In the technology driven society that we all live in today, social media rules the roost. One thing that I love about social media is that it has popularized powerlifting. However, I have an issue with that. A lot of trainers and strength coaches (especially self-proclaimed gurus) are now indirectly forcing athletes to become powerlifters by training them as nothing more than a powerlifter. When it comes to utilizing powerlifting as a way of improving an athlete's performance, always remember that as a strength coach your job is first and foremost to create a better athlete rather than just a powerlifter. As stated in a previous article, you can be strong and not explosive, but you can't be explosive without being strong. One method that many powerlifters utilize to increase explosive strength is the Dynamic Method. However, everyone assumes that this means you need to use bands or chains. To put it briefly, the Dynamic Method can be effective by simply working with weights as low as 50-60% of your max without bands or chains. Although this method works, it's not always necessary when working with high school athletes. High school athletes have crazy schedules and are lucky to consistently train 2-3 times per week. While strength is never a weakness, just know that they are better off focusing their limited time in the gym on increasing force output as opposed to just maximal strength.
Plenty of the newly discovered, inexperienced gurus on social media using bands and chains on Dynamic Effort days are just bastardizing the Westside Method. Although I do agree with a lot of what Louie Simmons preaches, I do not believe that everyone should be jumping right into bands and chains. The speed and efficiency at which you execute your lifts is paramount to just simply looking cool on someone's smart phone.
Are bands and chains used for athletes at Overdrive Fitness? Yes, but instead of utilizing bands and chains to increase speed-strength for high school athletes, we'll use box squats, board presses, and block pulls at sub-maximal weights while emphasizing the intent to move said weight with controlled violence. We like to save the use of bands and chains for rehabilitation purposes. It may sound crazy, but the reason why is that we believe that when an athlete is cleared from an injury to slowly start getting back in the swing of things, chains and bands will get the athlete to slow down and focus more on the actual movement being performed due to the increase in proprioception.
Here we have Mike Dietze performing a Safety Squat Bar Box Squat with Bands 7 months after tearing his ACL and meniscus. After finishing physical therapy and being cleared to begin strength training, one of the focuses for Mike was to increase his eccentric quad strength. The Safety Squat Bar makes squatting a lot more quad dominant. The Box Squat above parallel ensures that there is constant tension in the quads. The use of bands with a slow eccentric helped pattern the squat back into Mike's training by adding more proprioception.
Remember, the goal in training athletes is to increase their force output. In such little time, we are expected to create strong, efficient, and healthy athletes. Sometimes you need to minimize the probability of screwing up a movement by shortening the range of motion to focus on efficiency in end range extension. Yes, we have all our athletes squat, bench, and deadlift. However, we are using those powerlifting movements to help them on their respected competitive fields. We are NOT trying to create powerlifters. If a squat isn't always breaking parallel, the DJ will not skip on the record as the walls start crumbling down for we fear criticism from the keyboard junkies who have accomplished nothing. No, we will focus on end-range hip extension, fix what needs to be fixed, then move on to more pressing matters. If an athlete does not fully bring the bar down to his or her chest, we will not scream at them about how much they suck at life. No, we will address the cause of the problem, probably move them to a board press to ensure a more successful movement, then move on. The use of bands and chains is not necessary to create great high school athletes. Instead, emphasize the intent to move efficiently with controlled violence.