Athletes commonly use elastic bands as a training method to increase strength and performance. The purpose of this study was to investigate the effect of elastic bands on peak force (PF), peak power (PP), and peak rate of force development (RFD) during the back-squat exercise (BSE). Ten recreationally resistance-trained subjects (4 women, 6 men, mean age 21.3 +/- 1.5 years) were tested for their 1 repetition maximum (1RM) in the BSE (mean 117.6 +/- 48.2 kg) on a Smith machine. Testing was performed on 2 separate days, with 2 sets of 3 repetitions being performed for each condition. Testing was conducted at 60% and 85% of 1RM with and without using elastic bands. In addition, 2 elastic band loading conditions were tested (B1 and B2) at each of the 2 resistances. No bands (NB) represents where all of the resistance was acquired from free-weights. B1 represents where approximately 80% of the resistance was provided by free-weights, and approximately 20% was provided by bands. B2 represents where approximately 65% of the resistance was provided by free-weights, and approximately 35% was provided from bands. The subjects completed the BSE under each condition, whereas PF, PP, and RFD was recorded using a force platform. There was a significant (p < 0.05) increase in PF between NB-85 and B2-85 of 16%. Between B1-85 and B2-85, PF was increased significantly by 5% (p < 0.05). There was a significant (p < 0.05) increase in PP between NB-85 and B2-85 of 24%. No significant differences were observed in RFD during the 85% conditions or for any of the measured variables during the 60% conditions (p < 0.05). The results suggest that the use of elastic bands in conjunction with free weights can significantly increase PF and PP during the BSE over free-weight resistance alone under certain loading conditions. The greatest differences are observed during the higher loading conditions, with the B1-85 condition appearing to be optimal for athletic performance of the ones we tested. The strength training professional could use variable resistance training (VRT) to increase PF and PP more than the traditional BSE can. VRT could also be used to train these 2 performance characteristics together, which might be especially useful in season, when weight-room training volume can sometimes be limited.
(C) 2006 National Strength and Conditioning Association