Muller, M. S., Bellar, D. B., Muller, S. M., Ryan, E. J., Bliss, M. V., Kim, C.-H., Ida, K., Barkley, J. E., & Glickman, E. L. (2009). Bench press strength gains with and without elastic bands: A 13-week training study. ACSM 56th Annual Meeting, Seattle, Washington. Presentation number 730.

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Elastic bands are frequently used as an adjunct to traditional isotonic bench press training. However, this type of training has not been studied in a controlled laboratory setting. This study evaluated the effects of bench press training with and without elastic bands on one-repetition maximum strength (1 RM). Untrained males (N = 11) participated in a 13-week training study. During an initial visit, proper lifting technique for the bench press was demonstrated. Ss then sampled the bench press and completed a 1 RM. Training consisted of five sets of five repetitions at 85% of the previous 1 RM two times per week. During weeks two through four, Ss trained with a standard barbell weight to allow for neural adaptations. Ss were retested on week five for 1 RM strength. Ss were randomly assigned to one of two conditions for weeks six through eight: 1) 85% free weight activity with 15% elastic activity, or 2) 100% free weight activity. During week nine, Ss were tested for 1 RM strength. Ss then completed weeks 10 through 12 under the opposite condition. A final 1 RM was obtained on week 13.

There was a significant treatment by time interaction and a significant time effect. There were greater gains in 1 RM strength during band training than free-weight training.

Implication. Training that combines 85% free weight and 15% elastic activities is more effective than 100% free weight training for increasing 1 RM in the bench press in untrained male weightlifters. [This study showed that in untrained individuals, any activity is beneficial and that activities that use more muscles are better than those that use fewer. Only when results are shown for trained athletes or individuals should generalizations be made.]

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