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Chest expanders (and strandpulling in general) and functional strength.

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Apr 4 16 12:49 PM

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I post some thoughts about strandpulling and functional strength in different topic, but I think it deserves it´s own (it is huge subject) ...

"Chest expanders are great for some things, no doubt about that. But the lack of functional strength (strenght, that is most visible and most utilized) is very bad if I take the time I dedicated to work out with them. Maybe some anchor lead to better ab/lower body resistance possibilities, but still - most of movements are isolation. I still concider them as best tool for morning workouts (if I am for example still tired for bwf/kettlebell stuff). I have great development of forearms from using them, but I think that my grip strength go up as I start to perform pull ups and catch kettlebell/stones now.
I believe in expanders in terms of stretching, rehabilitation and muscle building but... starting to ask if they aren´t over-matched in functional purposes with different tools, that provide more compound movement possibilites:
Alfred Danks comes to my mind as I thought about functional strength and expanders. Danks claimed he gathered all strength for weightlifting (he had been weightlifting champ, as far I know... but It could have been in times movement with weights above head was concidered weightlifting ... morern weightlifters are more about huge load in squats and cleans) feat with moderation use of chest expanders (he was also able to do lot of pull up max reps - so maybe he don´t work out only with expanders). I am thinking, where he gather as good functional strength with expanders as ones who performed weights and weightlifting workouts that time)?
I had read his course (I know he could use different excercises and he could be working out more than he stated - marketing is marketing = claiming in one thing, truth could be different) but there is no basic movement from his course I don´t do last moths ... my functional strength don´t go much up from then.

Maybe is more of question to Fred or others who use strands as tool for functional power - what do You concider as top suggestion (excercise, movement, scheme, etc...) for using expander (strands, tubes, ...) for fuctional purposes? = What You concider best way with expanders to boost functional strength?"

It is question to all (not only ones who train for functional purposes - however, one´s who do could have dírect answer what works for them best in terms of functional power granted by strand using. And as I though about that, it is not only mr. Danks... I know that Jack Reid (let´s put aside he did also bodyweight stuff) and Fred Rollon had great upper-body functional strength. I know some russian wrestlers back in the day train with bands for sport purposes.

Any secret of functional strength and strandpulling is appriciated
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#1 [url]

Apr 5 16 4:42 AM

I personally don't like the term "functional strength", because no strength is non-functional. "Functional strength" was for a while a marketing buzzword used by internet fitness celebrities to promote their products over those of the competition. This fad has thankfully died out in more recent times.

How to train for strength? Weight lifting exercises engage a lot of total muscle mass and develop strength through the entire body. You can cover every single muscle group with three or four basic weight lifting exercises. Lifting weights isn't limited to lifting barbells and dumbbells - you can "weight lift" with stones, concrete blocks, chunks of metal and any other heavy implement.

Cables will give you great upper body strength and target some of the smaller muscles that do not get much work in big, full-body exercises.

Bodyweight workouts can give you a lot of total-body strength and teach you how to use your body as a unit.

So the ideal workout would be some combination of all three - weights, strands, bodyweight.

In my opinion, the best "big" strandpulling exercises are:

Front chest pull
Overhead downward pull
Back and front press
Shrug in back press position

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#2 [url]

Apr 5 16 11:22 AM

Fatman 2 wrote:
I personally don't like the term "functional strength", because no strength is non-functional. "Functional strength" was for a while a marketing buzzword used by internet fitness celebrities to promote their products over those of the competition. This fad has thankfully died out in more recent times.


Thank You for thoughts.

I see. Although I agree with that statement ("functional strength" as marketing term, that is still used by many fitness trainers and companies), I think is clear where my question goes. Maybe term "conditioning", "everyday strenght", "farmer´s strength" or "all-around strength" would be better.

If I use it in example: Lately I had good results in adding number to my pull ups. That leads to better results if I use some pulling motions in everyday life (opening heavy doors is for example easier). When I help my friend month before with moving to different flat and another friend with carpet to 9th floor, they had better results in terms of tireness and easiness of picking things we move. It doesn´t suprise me with second friend (he is working out few years in combat sports gym), but it suprise my with first - he didn´t do nearly anything to work out, is heavier than me and have better "functional" power results in that case.
That lead me to question if it´s a better way to train with strands to that purposes: what´s a point of strength building when You couldn´t use that strength (or what´s the point when You still have worse results than untrained individual) - However: I thing is more of what we are training for and want to achieve and there always feats that one couldn´t reach by training (due to training specialization for example) = known "bodybuilders workout and results are/could be different, than powerlifters, as are different their goals".

As I agree on over-using term "functional strength" ("What is functional? Functional for what?" - right ), I still think we could divide strength (although it could be one term that embrace all-kinds of it) to different groups due to results, goals, methods, etc...
Strength and results of classic bodybuilder would differ from strength of calisthenics expert, as would differ their result in everyday activities due to their´s specialization. Strenght of powerlifter differs from fighters strength (maximal stregth and explosive strength)...

But I see Your points here.
Weighlifting (of any kinds) is proven as all-around strength method as is bodyweight fitness.
Strands are great for upper body strenght and filling some gaps, than other workout methods not cover so well: for all-around strength, it will be better to ad other activities or tools to them.

My question is however, concentrated only for strandpulling and this kind of strength (and methods to work this kind of strength with strands).

Last Edited By: Lemmy01 Apr 5 16 1:18 PM. Edited 1 time.

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#3 [url]

Apr 5 16 10:58 PM

I understand now that your definition of "functional strength" is strength you can use for lifting and carrying heavy things.

From my experience, the only way to develop this type of strength is to train for it specifically - by lifting heavy objects (not necessarily weights). I don't know how you would develop this sort of strength only with strands, but maybe someone else here will know.

One thing that comes to mind is to use isometric exercises if you have no access to weights. E.g. pushing and pulling against doorways and immovable objects, etc.

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#4 [url]

Apr 6 16 1:51 AM

Yeah, if you want to build strength to lift and carry heavy objects, you just need to lift and carry those heavy objects. That's the only suggestion I have.

"Any problem in the World can be solved by dancing." James Brown 
"I don't even know if I'm doin' this right" John Mellencamp
Mastering principles, frees us from slavery to recipes.
Set a DIRECTION, not a goal.

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#5 [url]

Apr 6 16 2:08 AM

Fatman 2 wrote:
I understand now that your definition of "functional strength" is strength you can use for lifting and carrying heavy things.


Somehow, Yes. Lifting things, movimg them around, but also getting up from ground with ease and vice versa, walking up and down stairs, picking things above head, but "farmers" stuff like wood chopping etc... Maybe term "conditioning" or "farmers strength" would be better.

Unfortunately, You are right there with fact that best option for boosting that type of strength would be better with tools that mimic that stuff - as for example if one coud have better powerlifting numbers, best way is training powerlifting excercises with powerlifting routine).
But - one who is working out only with bodyweight (with calisthenics or gymnastic) could have better results in powerlifting numbers than untrained individual (that disprove in a way statement that only way to add that strength is specialization - specialization is from my perspective best way, but not only way).

However, I´m interested if that strenght could be worked by strandpulling too. I mentioned Danks and his weighlifting strength (as he claimed gathered only by strandpulling). Fred Rollon had some interesting numbers with weights.

Isometrics - that is interesting (nearly all excercises with chest expander could be isometrics).

I am thinking about stuff when You move with strands diagonaly also - that could lead maybe in some interesting results with core (that is concidered as source of all-around strength) and as far I know, that was highly used by russian oldtime wrestlers who used strands).
Changing angles often could have effect too maybe - that idea is using Fred (Crivello), if I am correct.

Last Edited By: Lemmy01 Apr 6 16 2:11 AM. Edited 1 time.

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#7 [url]

Apr 7 16 12:16 PM

Thanks, Jeff has some good ideas, as he always do.
There´s showed stuff that isn´t easily reacheble for me with classic expander with handles, but I could try incorporate some things anyway.
As for bands - yeah, they would be better for core strength and more "functional power" focus, than classic expander I thing (due to better possibilities of rotation and length of equipment). However, some band excercises could be dubbed with classic expander.

Interesting, that pull aparts = with expander more or less Front chest pull excercises is mentioned there too.
As I wrote in some post here at forum, excercise that is mentioned as one of best excercises for shoulder/scapula/upper back overall rehab (not only for that) nearly "everywhere".

To ad something on topic strandpulling and "functional" strength:
I almost forgot mention armwrestlers, who incorporates strands in their´s workout: some as primarly tool over weights as tool to work thei´r muscle functional capabilities for armwrestling sport - for dubbing movement of rival. strenghtening small muscles in forearms and shoulders, etc... :

Maybe that advantage of strands over weights in terms of functional purpose is that fact of another and different possibilities (angles, escalationg resistance) to hit smaller muscles and joint muscles. Based on that I thing that also "farmers" (or carry weight/move weight, and so on) strength could be worked with strands, as could be movement strength (getting up from ground easily etc...), but when one is working dirrerently than weights (and lot of expander excercises is different - for example ODP or mentioned Front chest pull).
At the other hand - progressing in basic expander biceps curl would lead to development of picked weight with dumbbell biceps curl.
Maybe is strandpulling for "functional" purposes more of combination of many different things (progression of resistance; chosen excercises and it´s angles, set and reps scheme, etc...).

Last Edited By: Lemmy01 Apr 7 16 12:41 PM. Edited 3 times.

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#8 [url]

Apr 7 16 8:07 PM

Yeah, in my opinion there are two main areas where strandpulling can be very useful, more useful than weights:

The ability to work different angles, especially if you attach one end to a doorway or other fixed point.
The ability to train relatively heavy over partial movements, up to the limit of isometrics.

Among other benefits, these strengthen the midsection and encourage better bracing.

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#9 [url]

Apr 24 16 5:06 PM

I think Dave hit on it. Bands can't replace heavy things, but they make an outstanding adjunct.

For me their best use has been as a prehab and rehab tool. Particularly for keeping all the scapular girdle and rotator cuff healthy and in balance.

Any time my shoulders start feeling off, they are the first thing I turn to and I've just not found anything as effective.

I've got a boatload of respect for guys like Fat Man who really push the raw strength side of bands. Just never felt like where I wanted to take them. I think getting whacked hard in the face after a mishap had something to do with that

The basic 'lifts' Fat Man described are excellent, I also like to do bicep and tricep curls, and prefer bands to this over weights, because I use them from more of an assistance exercise POV.

That and longer bands anchored to a door, or stall bars for various rotator cuff work.

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