Variable Resistance Training (Bands and Chainz)

If you follow my personal instagram page, you will notice I am a big fan of utilizing bands and chains as alternative resistance methods, but what’s the point? Yeah, they look cool, and sure they provide a little more resistance to the exercise (at certain points) but what’s really going on when you load up 50lbs of chains to the bar, or add 50lbs of tension with some bands? 

VRT provides altering amounts of external resistance throughout the movement. Bands are more versatile compared to chains in this aspect, due to the fact that they can resist or assist the movement. In a squat, with the bands pulling the bar to the floor, lowering the bar will result in a decrease in stretch of the band and a decrease in resistance. Standing up will stretch the band, thus increasing the resistance of the band. Bands hanging above the bar does the opposite. Do not over think these mechanisms! Chains provide no elastic qualities, so they only provide added resistance in this instance. When lowering the bar, the chains will coil on the ground and resistance from the chains decrease. Standing up will uncoil the chains and provide added resistance to the movement. 

There are parts certain points of every exercise that require the most effort to complete the task. Referring back to the squat, just above the bottom of the movement is the “sticking point” of the movement. This is where you feel the most amount of resistance, and this is where the majority of failed reps occur. Once you pass the sticking point, the ability to complete the movement is almost a given. Why attempt to make this more difficult by adding chains and/or bands? 

Of the many goals associated with strength training, one of them is to improve inter/intra muscular coordination. Intermuscular coordination is the coordination of contraction between different muscles, while intramuscular coordination is the coordination of the individual muscle’s firing pattern. Traditional free weight training (FWT) will provide the required stimulus to improve the neural adaptations listed above. However, let’s go back to the squat. The time between the “sticking point,” and the completion of the rep. The mechanical advantage we gain during this segment of the exercise is such that our muscles do not require the same amount of force production to complete the rep! This is where chains and bands come into play. They provide the extra resistance through the easier portions of the lift. So, this gap of mechanical advantage is now filled with added resistance that provide a greater stimulus, and inter/intra muscular coordination between these two points will increase as a result. 

This blog barely scrapes the surface of VRT implementation. This modality of training is a personal favorite of mine due to the fact that; VRT provides variation to commonly completed movements, and bands and chains are not expensive relative to other resistance mechanisms. I hope to dive deeper into this form of training and the role it plays in previously discussed topics, like plyometrics. 

-Thank you for your time! If you have any questions please let us know!

Coach Nate Garcia 


Instagram: tp_strength