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Regardless of the preference, all lifters have one thing in common: There are certain sticking points that we all have trouble breaking occasionally, whether you’re going for a new PR or trying to get that one last rep that always eludes you. Fortunately, there is a way that you can overcome this hurdle and get back on the road to gains.
A 2020 study published in the Journal of Sports Science and Medicine shows that the use of elastic bands can have a positive impact on moving past this sticking point. Specifically, the study used the squat as an example of how this would work.
The subjects in the study were examined while squatting on a Smith Machine with varying levels of resistance with weight plates. Once the sticking points were determined, elastic bands were then added to the Smith machine so that they would affect the lift just after each lifter’s sticking point.
Next, the weight plates were replaced with as many bands as it took to equal the same weight that the lifters previously used at the sticking point in the exercise. Keep in mind that the band stretched as the lifters were going up, so they were holding more resistance at the top of the movement. The overall conclusion was that the bands played a positive role in helping the subjects see improvement.
“In conclusion, elastic bands could reduce cardiovascular and perceptual stress depending on each type of application and are presented as a solid option to perform resistance training at high loads and volumes with no need to combine them with weight plates.”
It may take several elastic bands to replace the weight plates that you would use on some exercises, but it could certainly be done. The question becomes how would this work in the weight room you’re training at?
If you opt for the Smith Machine like the study, then you could place stoppers at the sticking point for you and start the movement from there. If you opt for the barbell squat version, then you could perform box squats with the bottom position being right above your sticking point and the safety arms high enough that the weight could stop when you’re on the box. Using dumbbells or band holders of the rack (if the rack you’re using has them) as the anchors for the bands can help you secure the other end to the barbell.
If you’re performing a bench press or deadlift, then placing the safety arms at your sticking point for those exercises would work in a similar fashion. In short, the squat rack with safety arms would be key in helping you apply this strategy to your own training.