Variable Resistance Training - the future of weight training
December 14, 2017
Yesterday we launched the X3 Bar in London together with X3 Bar's UK distributors. The first shipment of bars are actually stuck on a boat in a UK port waiting for customs clearance, but hopefully they will be available to the UK market before Christmas! Yesterday, we made do with the demo equipment - the only set currently available in the UK!
The X3 Bar was created by the brilliant US biomedical engineer, medical researcher and inventor John Jaquish PhD. The X3 equipment was developed in response to some extremely compelling scientific research showing that variable resistance training (as provided by elastic bands) is far more effective than using other, conventional methods. In fact, variable resistance training creates muscle gains three times faster than conventional training!
Below is a quote from a study on Cornell student-athletes:
“Compared with C (control), improvement for E (elastic) was nearly three times greater for back squat, two times greater for bench press, and nearly three times greater for average power.”
When compared to regular weight training, variable resistance training led to double or triple the gains in one-rep max, and triple the 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.
Note that the elastic group in this study did perform combined variable resistance and resistance training, since the athletes used bars and plates attached to elastic bands. While the resistance varied, they always had to lift the bar, plate or other mechanical assembly. The objective of the X3 Bar is to closely replicate the experience shown in this scientific study.
Although the X3 is not very heavy, it provides a very similar experience, since the product is composed of a bar and a plate. For this reason, the X3 should be used with constant tension throughout the entire range-of-motion for each exercise performed. When used this way, X3 replicates the study conditions that led to the triple gains very effectively, as constant tension provides a baseline level of resistance similar to what there would be with a weighted barbell, with that resistance increasing as one goes through the range of motion.
The variable resistance component of an X3 workout is derived from the bands, so why not just get the bands?
The reason is because with X3, you can double over a heavy duty band, and perform an exercise at over 500 lbs of force. This would be difficult to achieve with the band twisting one's ankles, and applying all that torsion to one's wrists. Not only is there a risk of injury, but the body’s reflex is to limit muscle activation in the presence of this kind of discomfort, in a protective process called neural inhibition.
With X3, you avoid these limitations, letting you lift heavier, whist reducing the risk of joint damage. With X3, you have a normal barbell interface, allowing you to perform the same lifts you could do with conventional weights, but with the benefits of variable resistance.
Variable resistance training, such as when using the X3 Bar, provides a greater increase in serum testosterone and human growth hormone than regular weight lifting. These are key factors for anyone interested in embarking on an effective anti-ageing strategy. Weight training is not just for young people, but also for anyone interested in looking, feeling and staying young. Who doesn’t want that?
There is no need to be a skilled athlete to use variable resistance! There is research on a middle aged, sedentary population, where even low intensity elastic band training was found to be at least as effective as weight training.
Training with variable resistance gives you more force where you can actually recruit muscle tissue.
Allegations that "the weakest range of motion is where you really train the muscle” is untrue.
What the researchers have 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 likely 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.
If we cannot use the nervous system to obtain high levels of muscle tissue engagement during high load events in a weak range of motion, that muscle tissue is probably not getting much training benefit from that part of the exercise.
We are very excited about the arrival of the X3 Bar on the UK market and hope that the equipment will be released from the port soon! Please get in touch if you have any queries!