Scientific research on variable resistance training (elastic bands)
X3 bar was developed because existing scientific research shows variable resistance training (as provided by elastic bands) is far more effective than using other, conventional methods.
To be clear, bands alone do not permit people to capitalize on the benefits of variable resistance because properly varied resistance can allow even the relatively deconditioned to lift over a hundred pounds in their strongest range of motion, with the average person then achieving hundreds of pounds in that same position, and these levels of loading make it impossible to grip the elastic bands.
When attempting to use a heavy-duty band without X3 bar, torsion is applied to the wrists (and in some cases the feet), and high loads are applied to the fingers. In our testing, when a person can perform 10 to 20 reps using the X3 bar with a given elastic band, they typically cannot perform a single rep without the device.
The difference between exercising with X3 bar and exercising with bands is analogous to the use of a barbell during bench press, squats, or deadlift, as compared to just lifting the plates with one’s fingers. If one attempted to bench press with a handful of plates instead of a barbell, their workout would be tremendously compromised and as such nobody exercises in that way.
Variable resistance creates muscle gains faster than conventional training
Variable Resistance (such as the X3 bar) creates muscle gains faster than conventional training. To quote a study on Cornell Student-Athletes: “Compared with C (control), improvement for E (elastic) was nearly three times greater for back squat (16.47 +/- 5.67 vs. 6.84 +/- 4.42 kg increase), two times greater for bench press (6.68 +/- 3.41 vs. 3.34 +/- 2.67 kg increase), and nearly three times greater for average power (68.55 +/- 84.35 vs. 23.66 +/- 40.56 watt increase).”1
In other words, when compared to regular weight training, variable resistance training led to greater gains in one-rep max, and greater gains in average power, for the time period tested. This may be one of the most profound discoveries in the history of sports performance science. And the results in this study were not created by any device available for sale.
In fact, the elastic group performed what was described as combined variable resistance and resistance training, since the athletes used conventional bars and plates on existing strength training equipment that had been customized with the addition of elastic bands. This is defined as a combination of resistance and variable resistance because, while the resistance varied through the entire range of motion, there was always some baseline level of load imposed by the weight of the bar/plates/machine assembly.
The X3 bar design simplifies but replicates the variable resistance training experience
We designed X3 bar variable resistance training system, and its workout program, to replicate that experience without requiring thousands of pounds of iron and customized equipment.
The X3 exercise bar is comprised of a barbell component, and a footplate component, so when performing and exercise, the interface is exactly like that of traditional free weight training. But instead of providing baseline resistance by making the X3 resistance band bar extremely heavy, we configured every exercise so that the band is constantly under tension.
When the user exercises with the X3 12-Week Program, they start under load do to the position and length of the band, so it is as though they are lifting a baseline fixed weight, and then as they proceed through the range of motion, the band is stretched further and the load applied is increased.
In this way, from the perspective of force application, we follow with extreme precision the protocol shown in the Cornell study to provide faster results than conventional free weights. And we do it without requiring thousands of dollars of custom modified gym equipment, or the space that would take up. After all, muscle tissue certainly can’t tell if a force is applied by an elastic band, or gravity acting on an iron mass.
Physical benefits to variable resistance training
Variable Resistance also shows greater anabolic hormone responses over conventional weight lifting 2. If you view the linked study, you’ll see that variable resistance based routines have been shown to provide a greater increase in serum Testosterone and Growth Hormone than regular weight lifting. This is important from the perspective of weight loss.
It has often been shown that exercising to create a caloric deficit is incredibly difficult, however it has also been demonstrated that increased HGH levels lead to loss of body fat and increase in muscle mass even in the absence of dietary changes. Thus, it is of particular note from a weight loss perspective that variable resistance leads to greater growth hormone production than conventional weight lifting, suggesting that a hormonal weight loss effect is possible.
Part of the point of training with variable resistance is that you train against more force in the positions where you can actually recruit more muscle tissue. There exists a strength training myth that “the weakest range of motion is where you really train the muscle”, but this is totally untrue.
As an example, when one reviews research into muscle recruitment (potentiation) during maximum effort bench press exercise, they find that in the weakest range of motion, “the sticking point”, failure is not caused purely by mechanical disadvantage, but rather by the fact that muscle recruitment drops sharply as measured by electromyography.
One study specifically postulates that the sticking point in a weak range of motion occurs due to “diminishing potentiation of the contractile elements during the upward movement together with the limited activity of the pectoral and deltoid muscles”.3 What the researchers observed is that in the weakest ranges of motion, under high loads, the exerciser cannot recruit nearly as much muscle tissue as they can elsewhere in the range of motion.
This is probably a protective feature of the nervous system, meant to prevent a person from injuring their joints by applying too much force to them while in an awkward position. This dovetails nicely with the safety benefits of X3 bar variable resistance training system: by offering peak resistance only in positions where joints are well suited to handle loads, the exercising process is made not only more effective in terms of benefit realized, but also safer.
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