Considerations for Using Bands and Chains

BJJ athlete Nick benching with chains for improved power output. Nick’s next comp is approaching so this last training cycle utilized a chain bench as his horizontal push exercise for the development of explosive pushing power

Bands and chains can be useful for increasing your power output- think of this as your ability to generate high force quickly. Power is what athletes are after for those big hits, fast changes of direction, sprinting speed and high jumps. In order to to have power you first must strength – the ability to produce force. Once you have high levels of strength you can start using advanced means of strength training for the development of explosive power. You cannot have power if you do not have a strength foundation to produce high force!

Both bands and chains are forms of accommodating resistance – to put it simply the weight gets heavier as you lift it: this means you cannot rely on momentum once the weight starts moving – you will learn how to apply maximum force to the bar to keep it moving.

Some things to consider when using bands/chains in your training:

-If you are a rank beginner do not even worry about bands/chains, use straight weight and save these methods for when you have a decent strength base

-Bands are better at training reactive power /strength as when used properly they will activate the powerful stretch shorten cycle (SSC).  To elaborate when quickly stretched a muscle will store a large amount of elastic energy in some structures (mainly the tendon). This creates a stretch reflex like an elastic band which then increases the force of the following muscle contraction. To be trained correctly the transition between stretching and contraction must be immediate for the most benefit, otherwise the energy is dissipated within the muscle. You must reverse the weight as powerfully as you can as soon as the eccentric/lowering phase of the movement is completed. Training the SSC is vital for powerful sprinting, jumping, throwing etc – all these movement are preceded by a stretch of the muscle. Plyometrics are another method for training the SSC.

-Due to the quicker loading compared to chain bands can be quite hard on the joints so be careful if you have shoulder/elbow injuries

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