What did they test? The researchers looked at how the addition of accommodating resistance to traditional resistance training affected strength or power and how it compared to traditional resistance training.
What did they find? The addition of elastic bands did not aid much in strength or reps to failure but it did have a positive effect on Wingate peak power.
What does it mean for you? Bands do not seem to hurt your gains and can be a useful tool when specifically looking to improve rate of force development. However, they are by no means a magical strength builder as often portrayed.
What’s the Problem?
Resistance bands are like the cool kids' addition to the weightlifting party, especially when talking about accommodating resistance. You throw these stretchy bands into the mix, and suddenly, you look like a strength and conditioning expert. Picture it: you're squatting or benching at your commercial gym and while you’re resting in between sets you start adding attaching bands to the bar. First a thin red band, then a thicker yellow band and so on and so forth. Everybody on the gym floor is looking at you like some mad scientist-evil genius, while you casually do your set pushing through the end portion of each lift where the band ends up adding resistance. You finish your sets and walk off to the changing rooms while everyone else stares in awe. Joking aside, resistance bands, and other forms of accommodating resistance, are commonly used by strength enthusiasts and powerlifters with previous research exploring its effects on strength and power even in trained athletes 1.
Accommodating resistance involves the integration of elastic bands or chains with traditional barbell and plate-loaded resistance and unlike conventional strength training, which concentrates resistance in specific phases of a movement, accommodating resistance uniformly loads the barbell across the entire range of motion. This makes accommodating resistance particularly suitable for exercises like the barbell back squat or bench press, where joint positions and length-tension relationships can affect force production. People in commercial gyms have also started to use resistance bands in an attempt to manipulate the resistance curve of certain exercises (eg: hack squat) in an attempt to further maximize hypertrophy and strength, with some of their practices often relying mostly on speculation rather than direct scientific evidence.
Despite existing studies on accommodating resistance in both acute and chronic settings, there is a lack of research specifically focusing on trained female athletes. Previous investigations have mainly involved untrained individuals, male athletes, or mixed cohorts, leaving a gap in understanding how accommodating resistance impacts the performance markers unique to female physiology. While there is some evidence suggesting positive outcomes in power, rate of force production, and maximal strength with the incorporation of accommodating resistance 2, the applicability of these findings to trained females remains uncertain.
On a somewhat unrelated note, the involvement of women in sports has seen a significant rise, with a notable increase in female representation at major sporting events such as the Olympics. Despite this surge in participation, female athletes remain underrepresented in sports science research, constituting only a third of the studies conducted in comparison to their male counterparts. With a limited focus on effective training strategies tailored to enhance performance in females, there exists a research gap that necessitates exploration, something that this study sought out to do.
Enter the study by Parten et al looking at the effect of accommodating resistance via the addition of resistance bands on strength, power and muscle endurance in trained females.