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Jul 6 16 9:49 AM

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Gents (and whoever else might be present); been pulling the strands for a year and a half or so now, mostly thanks to this forum. I'm in my 40s, trained with heavy weights for about 12 years; hit the coveted 500/400/300 on the big lifts some years back, trained doggcrap and 5x5 style mostly; more or less a powerbuilding regime. Did brazilian jiu jitsu and karate at a decent level before I took up weights (weights are easier on ageing bodies than being triangle choked and kimura-locked by 22 year olds). My rasslin with the cables started off as a change in job description to "road warrior" and noticing "gee, most of them hotel gyms don't have olympic barbells." Lifeline strands, and "fatman's guide to cable training" kept me from dissolving into a blob of constituent organic particles.

Not on the road quite as much as I used to be at the moment, but inertia and a tough slog on a startup has kept me mostly training at home with strands, bodyweight and kettlbells, with once or twice a week to the gym to lift big iron. The bands have been a great blessing to my ageing joints, and frankly, I think they make me purdier in the upper body than powerlifting did. Probably the latter is due to the higher rep-ranges which my ego didn't allow so much when using barbells, and the fact that cables are upper body centric, but also I think the nature of the beasts gives nice cap to the delts, and amazing arm and upper back pumps.

The lifelines, I think, are very good tools; cheap, light and sturdy. I've managed to retire one set of handles (probably over enthusiastic curls; they were showing spider cracks), but the heavy strands seem to wear out very fast. Started with greens for base and wore out a complete set of 3 of those within 8 months: the greens seem to crack very fast. Now I'm working with blues, which are also starting to go, and which seem to permanently deform pretty quickly. On the other hand, all my reds and purples look just like when I bought them. What would be incredibly awesome would be lifelines with 5-6 holes so I could populate it entirely with reds and below. Alas, nobody makes such things. I figure the elastic deformation on a "too thick" piece of cable does something weird; some kind of elastic creep. Also, the knobs at the end don't really fit right into the handles on the very thick cables.

I'm not complaining about the durability of these tools -they're great for the price. I'm more worried about giving myself a german duelling scar from playing with rubber bands, and of course, it feels wasteful throwing them cables in the trash when they get cracks in them.

Right now the options are Samson cables and The Hook, but if there is anything else out there, I'd love to know about them. My main concern with either tool is insufficient cables for fun stuff like back presses and true archer pull, and very probably a different range of motion. Maybe I'll just get both.

Favorite exercises (with cables):
Overhead pull
Front chest pull
Curls
Right/left front chest anyhow
Lateral raise
Back Press
True archer pull
Whippets

Usually a workout is mixing these guys with chins, handstand push ups, free squats, back bridges, kettlebell swings, Farmer Burns calisthenics, snatches.

Main complaint in following this regime is the lack of lower back and leg stimulation. Everything else gets hit nicely. I used to be a nut about working my lower body all the time, so I kind of miss the feeling of a 20-rep squat session, deads or some heavy push presses, but otherwise I could happily substitute cable workouts for most of my upper body exercise needs.

Anyhow, this is mostly a long winded "hello" and "thank you, guys" but if anyone has a training idea or safety to share, or a cool obscure chest expander I haven't listed above, I'd love to hear about it.
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#1 [url]

Jul 7 16 4:27 AM

chimp wrote:
My rasslin with the cables started off as a change in job description to "road warrior" and noticing "gee, most of them hotel gyms don't have olympic barbells."
I got into cable training for the same reason. A job with a lot of travel motivated me to research "training without equipment", which led to bodyweight exercises, then to cables. Can't beat that upper body pump.

We discussed the Lifeline problem with "heavier" cables a few years ago on this forum. I went through several sets of yellow cables, and my greens and blues broke within the span of a few workouts. The oranges and reds, on the other hand, lasted forever - I might still have a few of them. Definitely a design problem. I was a big fan of Lifeline and hoped they would overcome their engineering issues and come up with a better cable set, but alas, that didn't happen.

The Hook is great, and so is Samson. IMO the Hook offers better portability and Shen also makes short cables for exercises like FCP and TAP. The Samson set is solid steel and can be used for heavy pulls. Resistance is not a problem, since you can load as many cables as you want on either of these sets. Having used all three, the Lifeline set is the shortest handle to handle, i.e. has the longest range of motion; the Samson set is slightly longer, just about the length of the short Hook cables, and the regular Hook cables are better suited for standing exercises like curls and overhead presses.

Some posters here use a German (?) expander brand called Elastikon, which seems to be well made but the cables are too long (for T-Rex-armed individuals such as myself). Terry is a popular (and now defunct) brand of metal spring expanders. Forum member Ratazong had a spring expander custom made to his specs - you can find his post about it using the search function - and a website where he and another member, Wolf, demonstrate chest expander exercises and workouts (in German, but most pages are translated into English).

Welcome to the forum, and I hope you share more of your cable training experiences.

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#2 [url]

Jul 9 16 6:17 AM

I use The Hook but I use Iron Woody-style flat bands. These are too long for back pressing or TAP, but pretty much the right length if folded over. You could buy a few of these sorts of bands or many of the kind Shen sells and wouldn't have any problem getting to a very high resistance. For lighter exercises like curls I sometimes stand on the band two-third of the way down, or whatever, to give resistance over a longer range of motion.

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#3 [url]

Jul 9 16 9:30 AM

Thanks for your replies, guys.
I have a set of hooks on order, and asked Shen to narrow the bands down a bit. Samson handles require a waiting list, apparently; hoping to get a set of those as well. The Terry and Spenby spring exercisers, I have read about on here. I'd be a bit nervous about actually using them. Exploding bands is one thing, but exploding old springs could really hurt! Maybe I will follow the expanderkrank fellows example and construct my own from springs from the Grainger catalog. I have a combo lathe/endmill in my kitchen, so I could theoretically make some handles, should I decide on a long term project of this kind.

FWIIW, I noticed these on fleabay; a set of old Sandow springs! Somebody on here should provide them with a new home (I won't bid on these).
http://www.ebay.ie/itm/Sandows-Super-Quality-Chromium-Plated-Steel-Spring-Chest-Expander-/172264231977?hash=item281bbf9429:g:zPwAAOSwXeJXe8Yk

Something new is required; my lifeline handles are again getting hairline cracks in one of the handles...

Today's workout was more volume than "weight" -and more than I usually do.

1) light back presses with 2xR6, 7 sets of 10-12
2) OH pull down 2xR6x 6 sets of 10-12
3) front chest pulls 2xR6 x 4 sets of 10
4) chins 1,2,3,4,5,6,5,4,3,2,1
5) curls 2xR6, 5 sets of 10
6) reverse curls (ow, left forearm getting weak!) R2+R6x3 sets 10
7) RL chest anyhow R2+R6 3 x sets of 10-12
occluded curls, 54x10,10; 35x12,12,10; 25x15,15,

Been going high volume every day plus keto diet all week, so now that I am all puffed up like a distressed blowfish, tonight will be a heavy feed and tomorrow will be a rest day with no strength training.

I don't  always do high volume with bands; more typical is 3 sets of 10-15 reps. I do like the higher volume (this is almost GVT) with bands though, and unlike the weights, it's a lot easier on my joints.

The katsuu/occuluded curls are a lot of fun, again, super easy on joints, and they seem to shock the arms into growing. I use a kettlebell and some "blobs" aka the ends of sawed off hex weights. Unlike the bands, I figure I can only do this once or twice a week.

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#4 [url]

Jul 10 16 9:42 PM

Welcome chimp and perkurnos.

I am confused ..... are you two different people or one person w/ two user names?

Anyway, thanks to you or to both of you for sharing.

I have an old expander from the 80's w/ the red plastic handles, but I don't use it. I don't like springs now that elastic strands are so easily available and inexpensive.
My experience w/ the Lifeline bands was also very disappointing @ "rated" resistance of over 50#. I think somewhere on here I posted pix of the way they broke down after only a month or two.
All of the professionally manufactured bands I use now are from Sierra Exercise Equipment. I think I have at least one of every product that Bruce makes. I also use free bicycle inner tube takeouts from the trash @ the local bike shop along w/ some cheap bungee cords that I buy from Menard's, Lowes or Home Depot. I carry a 12" bungee in my kit that I use in my vehicle.

Like chimp, I don't limit myself to strands, but do BWE and use all kind of tools.

perkunos: I'm interested in occlusion training. It sounds like wherever you wrap the elastic, it needs to be between your heart and the muscle you want to pump. I wonder if there's a way to do this for pumping up pecks and back?

Also, how do you use the combination of KB's and hex dumbbell ends?

"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]

Jul 11 16 7:24 AM

Sorry Mike: I logged in with an email address rather than calling myself ... da chimp! Fixed for future reference.
The lifelines started skeering me, and as of today I have my hooks. Loving the hooks; much smoother pull. Safer too; as there is less energy in any individual strand. I bought a Spenby on ebay for giggles as well.
For my occluded curls, I use what I have around the house. The hex ends were originally for pinch gripping (which I admittedly don't do much any more). When doing katsuu training, I do a two handed sort of drag curl (starting with the 54lb kettlebell). Occluded training wears out the muscle with a very light weight. I might try it with the hooks in the next few days.

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#6 [url]

Jul 12 16 6:37 AM

OK, thanks chimp.

Yeah, everything I've seen tells me that the Sierra stuff is tops. Plus, Bruce is a good human.

"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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#7 [url]

Jan 29 17 12:23 PM

Managed to get myself a set of Samson cables/handles recently. Apparently there was a backlog for a while, but Mike Brown is making them again. Beautifully made; I kind of wish I had tried to make my own in my shop. Quite enjoyed my first workout with them today. Like fatman said, their length is closer to the lifelines. It's nice to change up the expander from time to time. Samson's loops are a lot heavier than the hook loops (though about the same size), so if anyone decides to order them, keep that in mind. My only complaint is I really like the fat grips of the Hook. I feel like that adds extra strain to the exercise and builds hand strength. Maybe I'll build something in the shop one of these days. Fat-Samsons.

Also have a decent 4-spring set of Spenbys which I fool around with on occasion. The springs have a nice feel to them, and they seem to be of high quality, despite their age, but I can't imagine what would happen if they broke while under use.

Mostly sticking with the exercises listed above. I suspect I will be doing a lot more true archers with the Samson handles. They really seem to fit that groove perfectly, and it feels much more satisfying than it did with the other expanders I've used.

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#8 [url]

Jan 30 17 5:41 AM

DIY Lifehacks

Chimp wrote:

'My only complaint is I really like the fat grips of the Hook. I feel like that adds extra strain to the exercise and builds hand strength. Maybe I'll build something in the shop one of these days. Fat-Samsons.

I wrap an old bicycle tube around dumbells to make thick grips.

You can secure the last wrap with hockey tape.

I wrapped the whole thick handle with hockey tape myself.

'Also have a decent 4-spring set of Spenbys which I fool around with on occasion. The springs have a nice feel to them, and they seem to be of high quality, despite their age, but I can't imagine what would happen if they broke while under use.'

Why not just tie a length of cord  from end loop to end loop inside them, as in the Terry springs?

Last Edited By: squidjuggler Jan 30 17 6:21 AM. Edited 1 time.

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#9 [url]

Jan 30 17 6:09 AM

Hey there:
It would be tough to wrap the Samson handles with tape and such, as you need to unscrew the handles to insert the loops. They look like the letter "D" where you can unscrew and break apart the straight part of the "D" to insert loops. Like a giant carabiner where the clasp is replaced by a sort of collet that screws together. Could probably wrap in "fatgrips" for a hack. Or it gives me an excuse to use my lathe for something. Really, they're fine the way they are; if I hadn't had the Hook experience, I never would have noticed their lack of comparative thickness.

The Spenbys have a string like the Terry exercisers; I was just worring that the old steel springs may some day decide they don't want to be springs any more. One of them already has a short length which is hyperextended. Realistically these are a display item for me, except for doing an exercise or two where all 4 springs are appropriate. I guess they didn't have carabiners back when these were made; the gizmos for removing or adding a spring are pretty difficult to deal with. I could replace them with carabiners, but most of the time, using The Hook or the Samsons is going to get me where I want to go.

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#10 [url]

Jan 30 17 6:24 AM

Hockey Tape

Chimp,

If you have clearance, you could wrap both halves of the screw-together handle with hockey tape to the desired thickness.

You could then wrap them with a layer of tennis raquet tape, or of bicycle handle tape.

 

Last Edited By: squidjuggler Feb 3 17 7:18 PM. Edited 3 times.

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