It has been a while since I have pissed off the powerlifting community by giving them something to to use to belittle me. This column should keep me covered for a while.
I will ask that you consider this is coming from a bodybuilder and not at all an opinion on powerlifting, but that kind of disclaimer usually doesn’t matter when it comes to the powerlifting community. My opinions often evoke an emotional response from a lot of people. Is this completely by accident? Rarely.
Trends come and go in this industry and rarely does anything new stick. This trend of using resistance bands and chains seems to be sticking longer than what is typical. I will go on record as saying I do not like resistance bands or chains and will not use them. I'll pause to let the badmouthing begin.
Before your panties start bunching (as if they weren’t the moment you saw my article), I did not say that bands and chains don’t work, nor did I say they are stupid. They play a more vital role in powerlifting or strength sports because they can provide focused work on a specific part of a movement that might be weak. For bodybuilding purposes, I don’t see the appeal other than it being, “Just a little something to break the monotony.” (I couldn’t resist the opportunity to go all Will Smith on you).
Yes, these trendy new aids might be a nice change of pace and afford you the opportunity to hit a muscle with a slightly different stimuli (slightly) but is the investment in time really worth it?
If you are training chest, I see little advantage to making the top portion of a press, where the shoulders and triceps start to take over, harder. The bottom portion of the press is easier; this is the part of the movement with the most chest/pec involvement. Shouldn’t it maybe be the other way around?
In powerlifting, the top portion of the movement might be a weak point, so these aids could be valuable for lockout. In bodybuilding, if your shoulders and triceps are weak and you struggle to lock out benches, take a closer look at your shoulder and triceps workouts. Problem solved. I just saved you a lot of time setting up. You’re welcome.
Want an easier way to finish reps if you are weak on the lockout? Use a spotter! Novel idea, I know. Another option? Three-quarter reps utilizing only the bottom three-quarters of the press, stopping short of lockout, thus keeping continuous tension on your chest during the entire set. (This option has been around since Joe Weider was nine-years old. It wouldn’t be long before Joe claimed the concept as his own and put his name on it as one of the Weider Principles. That was around the time he turned 10.) A bodybuilder trying to circumvent a Weider Principle could be considered sacreligious.
When I leave the house to go to the gym, I am reminded each and every time that I have too much shit. My mind often wanders back to the days when I knew nothing (some of you would say that day was yesterday – FU), and didn’t have to take a jug of intra-workout magic with me to the gym, along with knee wraps, a belt, wrist straps, headphones...*big breath*...ipod, wallet, cell phone, and whatever crap I cannot recall that I take to the gym on a regular basis. I damn sure don’t want to add resistance bands and chains to this oversized load of cargo. Before you say that gyms have chains and resistance bands: nowhere near as many bodybuilding gyms have that stuff as powerlifting gyms do. This would be about as easy as taking your own elliptical machine to the gym to do cardio. I ain’t feelin’ it.
If you are willing to drag this added load of gear to the gym, what about set-up time? What about one resistance band being slightly tighter on one side than the other? I don’t know about you, but I can tell when a forty-five pound plate is not forty-five pounds. I am damn sure going to notice a resistance band being tighter on one side than the other. Hey, this is bodybuilding; my symmetry might go to shit and I can’t have that. It is hard enough getting heavy dumbbells into place for dumbbell presses, but now I have to loop my hands through bands, too? To top it off, I have to press in a squat rack or on a regular bench because I need to hook the bands to something? I am sure Mr. Monday-Evening-Bencher will be happy to wait while I put on a little show of “look at me, I can’t just lift weights like the rest of you.”
When push comes to shove, you can use bands and chains all you want. I just feel this trend will pass, just as the Arm Blaster did and just like Otomix and Zubaz did (thank God). I hope it grabs Occlusion Training by the neck and takes it out with it, kicking and screaming. Everything is cyclical, and as much as I appreciate those that think outside out of the box, it is funny how most of the time we venture outside of said box we end up coming back inside the box. Why? Because that is where a lot of the tried and tested shit will always remain. In the end, what matters is that we train our asses off by picking up shit and putting shit down, repeatedly.
If I see you in the gym or in pictures on Facebook using bands or chains, I won’t judge — it’s your prerogative. It's just not for me. Now, if I see you in the gym with an oxygen deprivation mask on, your pic is going straight to social media with the caption, “LMAO, look at this asshole.”