Q: What’s your opinion of using bands and chains for improving the bench press?
A: I like both. Chains provide an even increase in resistance as the barbell is pressed off the chest; that enables the resistance curve to match an individual’s strength curve more closely. For convenience, I like lifting chains that are attached with a collar so you don’t need to use an additional outside collar.
I prefer bungee bands over regular bands for several reasons, but particularly because the tension can be more easily adjusted. These attachments teach trainees to accelerate from the start. They are not as stable as chains and as such require some practice to master, so always use an alert spotter. Also, I would use them at only one workout out of two, because using them too frequently tends to bring on tendinitis.
Eccentric hooks are also great assistive devices for the bench press. Originally a Soviet concept and further developed by East German strength coaches, eccentric hooks enable you to increase the load during the eccentric portion of the exercise. When the devices touch the floor, they release the additional weight from the bar so you can complete the concentric phase of the lift.
Editor’s note: Charles Poliquin is recognized as one of the world’s most suc-cessful strength coaches, having coached Olympic med-alists in 12 different sports, including the U.S. women’s track-and-field team for the 2000 Olympics. He’s spent years researching European journals (he’s fluent in English, French and German) and speaking with other coaches and scientists in his quest to optimize training methods. For more on his books, seminars and methods, visit www.CharlesPoliquin.com. Also, see his ad on page 131. IM