BandBell for Bodybuildingby Jim Seitzer on June 30, 2015
BandBell for Bodybuilding
By Jim Seitzer
“If you want to find the secrets of the universe, think in terms of energy, frequency and vibration.”
Since the introduction of the first BandBell ‘Bamboo’ Bar in 2008, there’s been a constant push to get as much Oscillating Kinetic Energy (OKE) as possible from different combinations of the Bar, the bands and the weights. After all, high-energy, chaotic bar movement using 25-lb. kettlebells was fixing and managing people’s shoulder problems as they were recovering from sport-related injuries, bursitis, osteoarthritis and post-op shoulder surgery. By constantly experimenting with different bands, different kinds of weights and all types of band configurations, the number and complexity of these setups got to the point where it was all pretty darn confusing. That’s when I realized there was a lot more to this simple-looking Bar than most people would ever imagine. During training demos, I starting using the analogy of driving vs. flying – once you get off the runway and into the air, you now have a whole ‘nother dimension to deal with. That’s pretty much the way it is with kinetic energy program development, too. Because OKE is so diverse in what it can do – rehab, prehab, functional training, agility and strength development – you have to choose the right setup for exactly what it is you want to accomplish. You might have noticed I didn’t mention bodybuilding just now. That’s because since the beginning, OKE training didn’t seem to resonate with bodybuilders unless they were using it to fix an injured joint or doing some prehab to keep it healthy. As the guys in my training group and myself pushed harder and harder to get more and more energy out of the Bar, it seemed that bodybuilders cared less and less about doing any monster-kinetic exercises because they just couldn’t get what they needed – serious pumps. Having been a competitive national champion bodybuilder in my day, it was particularly disappointing to see this really cool training concept – one that worked so well and in so many ways – essentially lay a big, fat goose egg in the one sport I love the most.
Everything I need to know in life, I learned from playing solitaire.
Sounds pretty stupid, but I swear it’s true. If you play that goofy game on your computer long enough, it teaches you that there is more than one way to win, and there is more than one direction to look for solving a problem. So, about eight-months ago, while I was getting my butt whooped in the middle of my 10,000th game, it finally hit me: try going the other direction with OKE just to see what happens. And…Bingo! We started cutting back on the energy by using heavy bands (1-1/4″ wide) instead of mini bands, and then switched from kettlebells to good old-fashioned 25-lb. plates, typically considered low-energy producers. Right off the bat, we noticed the Bar didn’t shake nearly as much and actually resembled a hybrid mix that was half-barbell and half-BandBell. It also allowed us to handle a lot more weight – closer to 90% of what we could do with straight steel. But the big payoff came in what it was beginning to do for the bodybuilders. They started goovin’ on it because the pumps were freaking them out… chest, biceps, shoulders and even tri’s. The reports were looking better and better. And, it was none other than Marcus Perry, the current Mr. Ohio, who started leading the way by coming up with new low-energy (low-e) variations for standard exercises on a regular basis. He also started mixing low-e kinetic lifts with standard steel movements to get really freaky pumps. Chest, for example: He was doing 15 to 20 reps of flat to slightly inclined BandBell bench press, then going right into medium-heavy dumbell flies/presses for what he calls a “Double-Blood” workout.
The beauty of the low-e, high-pump scenario is that even a small amount of OKE still works to prehab and bulletproof the shoulder/pec tie-ins, while slamming tons of blood into the muscle at the same time. The same combination works for biceps: mix low-e standing BandBell curls with regular preachers, dumbells or cables. For shoulders: try low-e seated front presses and/or BandBell upright rows with any combination of your favorite steel/machine/cable movement. Same thing for triceps, rear delts, etc., which we can more thoroughly cover in another blog. You’ll find that just about anything you do with a standard barbell, you can do with a BandBell. So, let’s re-cap this new concept: low-energy setups on the BandBell, used in combination with standard bodybuilding movements, will pound blood to the muscle like crazy and act as an insurance policy for your shoulders at the same time.
But why is this happening? What mechanism in the body is responsible for allowing this clearly noticeable difference to the muscle? Right now, research is being done on the why’s and whatnot’s of OKE at The Ohio University Exercise Physiology Department in Athens, Ohio – one of the most recognized group of ex-phys scientists in the country. But, there are other really knowledgeable folks out there who have a pretty good idea of what’s happening. Guys like Greg Mack, AHFSc, MATm, RTSm, CPFT, nuclear engineer and the owner of Physician’s Fitness, www.physiciansfitness.com, a Columbus, OH based company specializing in the toughest rehab and problem solving therapy you’d never want to attempt. They don’t come much smarter than Greg and he’s been kind enough to lend us some of his high-octane brain power to analyze the situation. Below is the Summary from a hypothesis he penned last year:
“An external force system (BandBell Bar) that produces force vectors that change directions and magnitudes in very brief time intervals against a bio motor system that is moving and attempting to maintain positions, will stimulate large arrays of the sensory afferent system, particularly the muscle spindle network. The dynamic nature of this system produces rapidly changing torques, therefore creating rapid changes in muscle length and tension and the various other tissues, thus requiring the system to adapt by producing more afferent information to improve the precision of muscle tension development. As this information is generated, it may restore or normalize the entire information set and result in less pain or a decision of the system to not conclude pain. As well, motor control and output may be enhanced. This is reflected in the H-wave and possibly F and M wave amplitudes and latencies and carry over to increases in skeletal muscle electrical properties.”
Ok, let’s put this into basic layman terms. When the body tries to deal with and control the OKE coming from the Bar, it not only has to work harder, it has to work smarter by telling the muscle fibers to get to work in a way they’re not use to working. That little part where Greg talks about, “…motor control and output may be enhanced.” And, then again when he says, “…increases in skeletal muscle electrical properties.” He’s telling us this is a whole different whammy to the body – a lot tougher – and will result in increased blood-flow due to the increase in the body’s neuromuscular and electrical responses to the bouncing, oscillating weight.
And you can clearly feel the difference when you down-shift to a lower-energy orbit for bodybuilding workouts. The smaller stabilizing muscles hand-off to the big boys to let them handle the bulk of the lifting…with just enough Bar shake to open the blood gates!