If you haven’t noticed by now, people really like to perform the back squat, bench press, and deadlift. So much so that powerlifting has reached an all-time high in popularity and participation. The sport has certainly evolved into an amazing feat of strength as competitors continue to push the envelope of what we thought was possible. Just as the sport has evolved, so too have the training strategies that are used to get as strong as possible. One such evolution that has caught on as of late is the use of accommodating resistance in training. You may have seen those colorful bands and/or chains looped around the bar as people squat at your gym or on your Instagram feed. Although the use of bands and chains has only recently become mainstream, it isn’t a new concept. You may have heard of people like Louie Simmons or Dave Tate who were pioneers in the world of powerlifting. These two, along with many other successful powerlifters, have been using accommodating resistance in training long before you may have even heard of powerlifting. But just how beneficial can accommodating resistance be in your training? Well, the research is clear that accommodating resistance has some major benefits. But knowing how to use it practically is an important piece of the puzzle if you want to see results. So let’s explore the world of accommodating resistance so you can start applying it to your own training!


Benefits of Accommodating Resistance

When it comes to putting in work in the gym, we are all just looking to get bigger, stronger, and faster. Not a lot of research has investigated the hypertrophy implications of accommodating resistance, so it is tough to say whether an advantage exists in this realm. Certainly a case can be made from an exercise variety and tension standpoint, but we will touch on that more later on. The area where accommodating resistance seems to really shine would be the stronger and faster aspect of training.

If you are not familiar, the action of our muscles is dictated by a force-velocity relationship or curve [7]. On one end of the curve you have max velocity movements such as sprinting, bounding, or countermovement jumps. Shift to the other side, and you have maximum force movements such as a back squat or deadlift one repetition max attempt. Generally speaking, the faster the movement, the less force is required and vice versa. This is why a true 1-rep max takes so long to complete compared to a max vertical jump.

Force Velocity Curve

However, those slow grinding reps can sometime be missed because of a lack of speed. If you take too long to lift the weight, your muscles will fatigue under the load and you’ll lose force production. A good strategy to combat this in training is to try and shift the force velocity curve to the right such that greater speed is achieved at any given force production. If you are able to generate more speed while producing the same or more force, you have a much greater chance of completing those max effort lifts.

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