Home Gym Buyers Guide – Resistance Bands and Chains

Everyone knows that the key to getting stronger is progressive overload whether it be more reps or more weight on the bar… although for most of us, we’d prefer the latter.

A method made popular by equipped lifters, namely Westside Barbell, is the use of accommodating resistance. They found that the different stages of resistance would mimic how the suits and shirts they wear assist them in their lifts when training raw, it would also create a new dimension in contrast to the linear loading of the big three.

Many raw lifters shun the use of accommodating resistance because they don’t wear gear, so they need to be able to lift ALL of the weight, ALL of the time. However, many have come to find that utilising accommodating resistance actually helps for improving explosive speed in their raw lifts.

The most common ways to implement this is with chains and bands. Both achieve the same effect of making the lift either easier or harder but I would say bands offer more versatility.

With chains, the more links that are freely hanging from the bar, the heavier it will be and vice versa. A chain with 10 links each weighing 2.5kg will weigh 25kg when all of the links are off the floor, it all weigh 2.5kg less for each link touching the floor. This is a fairly steady increment of loading. Chains are simply subject to gravity.

With bands, the resistance comes from actual band tension. As you stretch the throughout the range of motion, the band is trying to retain its original shape. This, depending on its thickness, width and elasticity will begin to generate ever increasing tension – which make the bar feel VERY HEAVY. There is a much sharper curve than with chains in how this resistance is felt. Obviously it gets to point where too much tension (stretch) results in the band snapping.

Pros of bands:
– They are relatively cheap.
– They can be used to add resistance or to assist the lifter.
– They are easy to transport around, you could use them in a home gym and then pop them in a bag and take to a commercial gym.
– They don’t make any noise.
– They can be doubled up with other bands and not take up much space on the bar.

Cons of bands:
– They can snap if abused.
– They need mounting points in order to be used effectively.
– They can really tax your CNS if used too often. The speed that the tension comes in is very taxing.
– They fix you to a plain of motion almost like a smith machine, which can cause problems to develop with form in beginners.

Pros of Chains:
– The weight is not subject to sharp tension curve, the loading comes in steadily, so not as taxing.
– Chains can generally be acquired from scrap yards for little to no cost.
– Plates or more chains can be tied to links to increase loading in certain areas of a lift. They are very easy to customise.
– They don’t tend to fix your range of motion like bands, the weight still feels very free.
– They look fucking bad ass.

Cons of Chains:
– They can only be used to add weight to the bar, they cant assist the lifter like bands can.
– They can take up a lot of space on the bar and in the lifting area.
– They are heavy and take up a fair bit of space so storage is an issue also they can’t really be taken to commercial gyms.
– They are very noisy which can be a problem if you have neighbours.
– To buy specific chains from a gym vendor, they are very expensive.

For me I find that if you have to choose one then I would go with bands every time. They fit my requirements for training and as mentioned are very versatile.

Of course, both have their benefits so it may be something to consider in the future to have both available for use.

Thanks for watching!

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