Deadlifts With Chains Versus Superbands

Ever wonder what the difference is between deadlifting with chains versus bands for extra resistance? Chains - The idea behind using chains is that as you lift the bar higher off the ground, the more chains get lifted, and the heavier the bar becomes. Many use chains if a person’s bottom position is limiting, but they want to train their top ROM for the day. A study by Nijem et al (2016) looked at EMG, rate of force development (RFD), and ground reaction force (GRF) of quads, glutes, and back extensors. One group performed deadlifts at 85% 1-RM. The other group used chains contributing to 20% of their 85% 1-RM at top position. Study Findings - There was a decrease in GRF produced using chains since the average weight was lower and RFD was the same. - The chains group showed a decrease in EMG of the glute max and no significant change in vastus lateralis activation. - Regardless of position, back extensor (erector spinae) EMG was highest at the bottom in both groups due to the moment arm Practical applications - Chains may not be optimal for strength or power training compared to traditional loading due to decreased GRF with no difference in RFD and EMGs. It may be used for variety or deloading to avoid burnouts. Elastic Bands - Prior research of variable resistance (i.e. Bands) combined with free weights has shown short term power and strength gains in the bench press and back squat (2). Supplementing the deadlift with bands challenges the finish position (hips fully extended) more than the traditional free-weight deadlift without bands. A study by Galpin et al (2008) looked at the effects of combined elastic bands and free-weight resistance during a conventional deadlift at moderate (60%) and high (85%) intensities. Study Findings - Regardless of intensity, the amount of force produced decreased as the total amount of tension from the bands increased - Velocity increased as the amount of elastic band resistance increased - Overall power increased as the amount of elastic band resistance increased Practical Application - If you want to maximize power, you should implement heavy bands - If you want to maximize force, you want to use free-weights with little to no elastic bands
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