Accommodating resistance, in short, is the use of bands or chains to elicit a stimulus in which all muscles involved have to do progressively more work throughout the full ROM of a movement. This training technique excites everything from primary, ancillary, and stabilizing muscles as well as the central nervous system (CNS) at a level untouched by straight weight alone. Whether raw or equipped, the advantages in using AR are so immense that I highly believe in the inclusion of them to the programs of intermediate to advanced lifters. In this post I am going to list just a few benefits and a quick summary to back up the reason behind my statement. If you wish to learn more, you can find a handful of great sources at the end of this post on accommodating resistance, with the use of both bands and chains, to further your knowledge in this strategy.
1. AR strengthens ancillary and stabilizing muscles
With the addition of bands or chains to the power lifts, secondary muscles to the lift will be forced to “pitch in” so to speak, to a further extent than in the straight weight/traditional lift. If you have weaker ancillary muscles or muscles that act to stabilize the core/pelvis/shoulders/etc, then the addition of nonlinear weight from bands and chains will elicit a response from those weaker areas, forcing them to work throughout the movement. This ultimately provides a progressive overload stimulus to these tiny yet important and often overlooked muscles involved in powerlifting.
2. AR improves technique, helping to reduce sticking points whether from muscular or technical Issues
I don’t consider sticking points to be a true dysfunction to a lift, but just another name for technical or muscular weakness(es).
That being said,
In consideration of muscular weakness as the issue:
This just furthers my previous point that the nonlinear addition of resistance in accommodating resistance work will cause the ancillary and stabilizing muscles involved to constantly be at work during the lift. Even more so as the lift progresses and reaches the end. The areas in which athletes tend to feel slow in their lifts, and termed ‘sticking points’, are the mid-regions and lock outs of a lift. Dialing in on these areas more frequently and progressively will produce a more efficient and effective power lift from beginning to end, reducing the event of ‘sticking points’.
On more of the technical side:
With the use of bands especially for accommodative resistance training, your body is placed in the correct position of a lift to begin with and because of where the bands position is pulling, your body will be forced to move through the correct range of motion of the lift and forced to correct any compensating habits in the process. By performing AR in a program consistently, your body will be trained to automatically adjust to a load with the correct movement pattern and negate its previous inefficient technical patterns as the load increases.
3. AR increases control in the decent as well as power output/acceleration in the accent
- During the decent with AR there has to be an increase in control and stability as to not allow the resistance to pull you down faster than gravity
- During the accent the body has to work against an increasingly amount of resistance with drive and force to get to and complete the lock out
Control of a movement is imperative in the decent of a lift, but coming out of it requires power. Speed is power, so focusing in on that drive in your programming amplifies the ability to complete a lift at heavy loads. Adding resistance to the powerlifts, forcing one to work harder in the accent, will increase the acceleration of the bar and mental drive of the athlete when faced with heavy straight weight.
4. AR adds intensity to training without applying more weight, giving the CNS a break from heavier lifting without decreasing intensity.
Albeit, a powerlifter must be well acquainted mentally and physically with heavy loads, otherwise their CNS with be ill-equipped to handle it come game time (meets). However, no athlete will serve themselves well to constantly push more and more weight day after day in their program without allowing their bodies adequate recovery and time to perfect other technical aspects of lifting at max effort. Using other methods, such as AR, to work at sub-max efforts without throwing more plates on the bar gives the athlete the ability to work through difficulty and challenges without wearing their CNS out too thin and, as we have seen, perfect other important pieces of the puzzle of powerlifting.
Author: Alyssa Parten