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Accommodating Resistance for Increased Raw and Explosive Strength

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Photo: Alyssa Parten

By Alyssa Parten |

Accommodating resistance (AR) is described as the attachment of elastic bands or chains to each end of a barbell during the squat, bench press, or deadlift – adding variable resistance throughout the movement’s full range of motion (ROM). This method has been around for many years, but the utilization of elastic bands as AR was popularized by Louie Simmons of Westside Barbell. Studies support the use of AR to improve lifters’ power, velocity, and rate force development (RFD).  Furthermore, there is evidence that AR can elicit higher muscle activation, improve joint stability, and enhance strength adaptions.

Among the various studies on AR, athletes from powerlifting, football, basketball, baseball, wrestling, hockey, and track, have demonstrated raw and explosive strength improvements through interventions incorporating AR, lasting anywhere from 5-12 weeks. The most common time to implement this method appears to be during the off-season phase in a traditional periodized scheme. A recent meta-analyses demonstrated that a program utilizing AR 2x/week for 7 weeks can expect to see greater strength gains when compared to traditional lifting alone. Integration of AR during this time period is logical, as the goals of most off-season strength and conditioning programs are to make the highest degree of strength and performance improvements in the shortest amount of time.

Lifts like the bench press can be performed using elastic bands.

However, my recommendation for beginners is to master traditional compound lifts prior to implementing AR. Simple, raw, and basic exercise selections focused on form and strength adaptations through technique and accumulation should be at the forefront of a beginner’s programming. Once an athlete masters the basics, AR can be an effective method to enhance programming.  In my lifting and coaching experience, AR can be a great method in teaching an athlete how to stay tight throughout a movement, accelerate as fast as possible throughout the concentric phase of a compound lift, and improve movement patterns, technique, and joint stability.

Here are a handful of my favorite exercises to incorporate AR with elastic bands:

  • Back Squats (safety bar or traditional)
  • Bench Press (Both your “normal” grip width and alternating grip widths)
  • Incline Bench Press
  • Conventional Deadlifts
  • Sumo Deadlifts
  • Box Squats (You can set bands up to pull forward if you have an issue with your chest caving in squats because the front vector will cause the erectors to have to work harder, “feeding into the dysfunction”)

You can find demonstrations of these exercises and many more on my Instagram.

Alyssa Parten is a NSCA and USAPL certified personal trainer and powerlifting coach from Birmingham, Alabama. She received her Bachelors in Exercise and Sport Science from The University of Alabama and is currently pursuing a dual Masters at the University of Concordia Chicago in Human Movement and Strength & Conditioning. Currently, she works in a private practice gym as a personal trainer and strength coach and also owns an online powerlifting coaching business, Ladybeef Inc. Additional certifications include: Precision Nutrition Level 1, TPI Level 1, and Human Movement Specialist. Follow Alyssa on Instagram.

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