Are resistance bands as effective as weights for building strength?
Syd Devis wrote a booklet called, "All About Strand Pulling". This was about a piece of equipment today known as the chest expander. A good chest expander has five springs or elastic bands to change the resistance. There are many exercises that can be done with a chest expander. The old time strong men used chest expanders. Sandow, perhaps the first and most noted of his time used an expander with elastic strands. The chest expander was a piece of equipment that Sandow used in his ‘physical culture" and strength building courses.
I bought mine in 1965. It has 5 heavy springs. I was a young boy at the time. In the 1980's I used it to rehab my shoulders. Resistance starts at nothing and increases as the distance that the expander is stretched increases. In the early 80's I don't think that rehab centers used bands or expanders, I could be wrong. If you were around at the time, the first selectorized machines to show up in gyms had chains rather than cables. They were first used in rehab centers.
Do chest expanders and resistance bands build strength? Of course they do. Top power lifters use bands on bars to increase resistance as the bar travels through the path of the lift to eliminate sticking points, weak areas in the lift.
A chest expander will develop a unique type of strength. A few years ago I handed my 5 spring chest expander to a friend who is a competitive amateur power lifter. I had just stretched it out 6X in front of my chest while holding it close to my body. My friend at that time out weighed me by maybe 60 to 70 lbs. and is about 8″ taller than I. He has deadlifted over 600 lbs. in competition. He was only able to stretch it out with 4 springs. Granted he has longer arms but resistance starts at the same rate initially and that is where he failed. I cannot deadlift nearly as much as he, especially now if I don't use straps. His bench was also about 100 lbs. more than mine.
I believe Bob Hoffman's Strength & Health magazine recommended using a chest expander. Bill Pearl, a noted bodybuilder used a chest expander.
A chest expander is a simple piece of equipment that is user friendly. Remember the rehab I did with mine? It is very effective at building strength as well as muscle and shaping muscle. If you are traveling it can easily fit into your bag. You can get a good upper body workout with a chest expander.
A chest expander nicely complements working out with weights. As an example. When securing one handle under a foot to do curls with the expander the maximum resistance is near the top of the arc of the curl. When curling with weights the resistance on biceps drops off dramatically as the bar passes 90 degrees. resistance is still increasing through much of the range of motion after the 90 degree point has been passed when using a chest expander. The chest expander places the more stress on the biceps in the opposite end of the range rather than the beginning.