Accommodating resistance for an increased vertical jump is using a progressive resistance that matches the athletes strength curve throughout the lift or jump. During a squat we are much stronger and able to handle much greater loads at the top than we are at the bottom. With free weight alone we have exactly the same amount of resistance at the top that we do at the bottom, so technically we are mainly training the bottom half of the squat as we will fail here before we would fail with the same resistance in a quarter squat.
What the bands do is provide accommodating resistance or progressive resistance throughout the lift. So we may have 225 lbs on the bar and two 50 lb tension bands attached. At the top of the lift, where we are strong enough to handle it, we have 325 lbs. At the bottom of the lift, when the bands are relaxed and we are weakest, we have about 225lbs!
This provides our body with the correct tension throughout the whole range of motion, not only to train the bottom half, but the top part as well. So what about chain? Don't they do the same thing? Well, although chains do provide accommodating resistance as you raise them off the floor, the weight increases, but there is no kinetic energy on the eccentric that the bands provide.
Jump Stretch bands are probably the most useful tool in our arsenal of methods of accommodating resistance for jump specific training. They not only provide progressive resistance throughout the entire range of motion, but also add kinetic energy on the eccentric portion of the lift.
The kinetic energy I am referring to is the overspeed (faster than a normal free weight resistance) effect that they have on the bar (see below video for an example). This overspeed eccentric loading can have a huge training effect on both maximal strength, and explosive strength.
To replay the video just click and drag the time bar back to the start.
Bands are basically teaching your body to load the eccentric portion of the lift and the jump harder and faster! This is great news knowing the direct correlation studies have shown with the effect of faster eccentric loading on vertical jump performance.
Basically the jumpers that descended or load the jump the fastest, jumped the highest! Bands are great at training this aspect. Another thing the bands do in regards to maximal strength training is trick the body into thinking it has a heavier load than it does. At the top of the lift when the bands are pulling down maximally, the body senses a much heavier weight than it will have to deal with at the bottom or the hard part of the lift. The body then responds accordingly by recruiting more of its motor units to do the job.
So even though you may only have to actually lift 225 at the bottom of the lift, the body thinks its going to be 325 and responds accordingly, making the 225 a much more explosive lift! This is great news for us as athletes. So now the question is, how much band tension and how much free weight? Well read on and I will explain a progressive system that works very well for implementing band tension in your training.
When you first begin using bands its important to realize just how much tension you need to add to the bar to get the maximum effect of the bands. Different sports like powerlifting will have different requirements for tension values but as athletes is actually pretty simple. A good rule of thumb when starting out is to not let the bands make up over 20 % of the total load on the bar. For example, if you were using two, twenty pound stretch bands on the bar loaded with 200lbs, you would be right on the money. If you had 400lbs of free weight on the bar you could use two, 40 lb. stretch bands and be right on again.
The stronger you are at a given lift, the higher the band tension will be but it still should only make up around 20% of the total load. Now keep in mind these are just guidelines and are definitely not set in stone. More experienced athletes will be able to use a higher percentage of band tension and I have done this many times myself. The key is to not use so much band tension that you cannot perform the lift explosively throughout the entire range of motion.
Using higher band tension and less free weight will slow the lift down tremendously and cause significantly more CNS drain and delayed onset muscle soreness (or D.O.M.S,), so don't get caught up that. They are a wonderful tool if used correctly and can take your training to another level. Hopefully this will help some of you interested in using these wonderful tools in your training and clarify some of the reasoning behind their uses.
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