How chains and bands can help you increase your bench press and squat performance.
As you prepare for the season, it’s vital you train to be powerful and explosive, regardless of the sport you play. Why? Because what sport do you know of where the athletes aren’t looking to get bigger, faster and stronger? Right, that’s what I thought. Well, if you’re looking to take your game, or training, to the next level incorporating bands and chains into your training, especially in the bench press and back squat, may be exactly what you need if you’re looking for.
Much like the Olympic lifts and plyometrics, bands and chains force you to be explosive as you increase the rate of force by moving the weight as fast as possible. Research shows that if you’re training for power, training needs to be performed at high speeds. Bands and chains allow us to do that and add a new stimulus to the nervous system.
So how do the bands and chains add resistance and how do you get started? Glad you asked. The chains and bands add resistance when the bar is at its highest level. As you lower the bar to your chest or begin the descent into a squat, the resistance from the bands or chains will decrease. As you raise the bar back up, the chain links start to come off the floor gradually increasing weight and resistance.
The bands act in the same way as the chains by increasing resistance on the way up as they continue to get stretched. The greatest amount of resistance is going to occur at the “Sticking Point” which is why you’re forced to be explosive. Keep in mind that you’re trying to develop as much force as possible so that you can drive through the top portion of the lift where the resistance is the greatest.
When training with bands and chains, it’s always important to remember that the ultimate goal is speed. So in order to accomplish that we need to limit the amount of actual weight we have on the bar. I usually have my athletes train with 50-60% of their one rep max for squats and 60-65% of their one rep max for bench. Listen tough guys (yeah, I’m looking at you), that’s all the weight that needs to be on the bar. If you feel like you need to add more weight, add more chain weight or a thicker band, but don’t let it slow you down, as the overall goal is speed.
Now that you have an understanding of the basis behind training with bands and chains, it’s time to incorporate them into your training. You should perform between 4 and 6 reps of 3 to 4 sets, but technique should always be maintained throughout these high speed lifts. Additionally, proper rest time between sets should be 45 seconds to 60 seconds. Throughout your sets keep in mind that you’re trying to jump through the roof when performing band or chains squats (without actually leaving the floor) and trying to throw the bar through the roof on the band or chain bench (without actually throwing the bar). That should help improve your power and explosiveness throughout both exercises.
In terms of set up be sure to attach the chains on the bench and the squat so that 2 or 3 links remain on the ground when you are at the start of your lift and if you’re using bands, make sure that they’re securely fastened to whatever is anchoring them to the ground or the rack. The bands and the chains should be the first thing to go on the bar, then whatever weight you’re adding to the bar goes directly over the band or the chain. Once the bands or chains are secured safely and the weight is on the bar, you’re ready to start training for power and explosiveness.
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