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The use of bands and chains or “accommodating resistance” has been popularized by Louie Simmons at Westside Barbell.  But what does that terminology mean anyway and why do we do it at Battleship CrossFit?

Accommodating Resistance is a fancy term that means that resistance increases throughout the range of motion when we use bands (or chains).  For example, when using a band on a deadlift, the tension on the band increases as it gets pulled off the floor and stretches.  In this way, the resistance on the barbell (or the weight of the barbell) increases as you get closer to the top of the movement.  There’s a few reasons why that’s a good thing!

  • Teaches Explosiveness:  As you move through the full range of motion on a lift, the band gets more tension and therefore does not allow you to relax or slow down at any point of a lift.  For example, in a squat, the hardest part is the reversal to get out of the hole at the bottom.  As you go up, the movement gets easier and you can somewhat relax after you’re about halfway up.  With a band, that’s not the case at all.  There is less tension at the bottom of the squat (which is the hardest part/sticking point anyway) and more tension at the top as you stand (which is the easier part).  This trains people to remain explosive and push hard through the full movement.
  • Overloads Your Body:  Using the banded deadlift as an example, let’s say you have 200# loaded on a barbell with a band added for tension.  At the bottom of the deadlift when there’s no tension in the band, the weight remains 200#.  As you pull the barbell off the ground, the band stretches and pulls on the barbell, making it weigh more.  Because of this, the barbell may weigh closer to 250# at the top of lockout, depending the band used.  This is a great way to train your body to support a heavier load at the top than you could pull off the floor.
  • Less Wear And Tear On Your Body:  On the flip side of the above example, using bands/chains can allow you to train with submaximal loads on the barbell, but with added resistance through bands. Using the same example above, to work on speed, it may be a good idea to load up a barbell with 150#, but still add bands.  At the bottom of the lift, an athlete is well below their max, but, at the top, the load increases to a near-max.  At the top is generally where an athlete is already strongest anyway, so it won’t beat them up as much but will still provide a good training stimulus.  This method is perfect for athletes to learn how to continue accelerating the bar as it moves through the full movement.

Of course, this doesn’t mean that you should only use bands and chains and never use straight-weight, but it’s a good tool to have to mix things up…which is what CrossFit is all about!

 

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