Master Your Bodyweight Movements With Bands

Master Your Bodyweight Movements With The Anti-Chaos Band Method

Dr. Joel Seedman, Ph.D.

Want to learn how to master your bodyweight exercises such as pushups, inverted rows, dips, and pullups? Try incorporating the anti-chaos band method.  And just in case you were wondering I refer to these as the anti-chaos method primarily because you have to eliminate all of the chaotic energy and bouncing by moving incredibly slow and smooth.

This anti-chaos band method is one of the most challenging protocols I've ever used as it requires unbelievably strict mechanics and smooth form otherwise your body will literally begin to bounce and oscillate out of control. Although it’s similar to the traditional chaos pushups that have recently gained quite a bit of popularity thanks to Tony Gentilcore and Jim Smith there are some distinct differences.

First, with the traditional chaos pushup there will be small yet quick and continuous oscillations similar to a vibration platform.  Although this is very effective for waking up muscle spindles and other proprioceptive mechanisms, there is rarely any threat of completely losing control of the movement as there is only so much the band can deviate and shift from it’s anchor point. 

In contrast the anti-chaos method doesn’t necessarily provide quick oscillations but instead the bar and lifter will have a tendency to bounce, shift, and sway, out of control with large deviations, unless he or she performs these with incredibly strict, smooth, and precisely dialed in mechanics.  In other words, you’re forced to do these correctly.

Because the instability and potentially large oscillations can be so extreme it literally forces the lifter to perform the movements in the most effective method possible, namely the eccentric isometric fashion.  In fact, each time I attempt these or have clients perform them I notice that the eccentric isometric method is used out of pure necessity as anything less will result in an inability to control the load not to mention a potential face plant. The concentric portion of the movement also requires incredibly smooth and controlled tempos to avoid any additional bouncing.  Needless to say this is an advanced protocol so use common sense when applying.

Another factor that differentiates the anti-chaos method from the traditional chaos pushup is that most lifters tend to find the barbell version much easier on the joints and ligaments of the hands.  In fact a common complaint many clients and athletes will make about traditional chaos pushups is that it places strain on the hands.  That’s because the stretching of the taught bands against the hands tends to pull against the connective tissue and various joints making it feel quite uncomfortable. In addition, when placing the hands on a stretched band it's difficult to squeeze your grip and activate the various muscles of your hands and fingers maximally as there simply is not enough circumference area to allow a crushing or squeezing grip method.

As a result the muscles in the hands are not as activated and therefore cannot absorb the force, resulting in more stress against the connective tissue.  The combination of these factors can produce significant discomfort in the hands and fingers. This is something I’ve personally noticed as well particularly with weighted variations.  Fortunately the anti-chaos method eliminates that as the lifter is able to firmly and aggressively grasp a traditional barbell rather than simply placing their hand on the surface of an ultra-stretched and taught exercise band.

The final differentiating point is also related to grip and hand activation.  I’ve found that using the barbell has even more transfer and specificity of movement to other barbell exercises due to the similar dynamics of the exercise such as grip positioning.  Simply put, the lifter not only employs the same general grip positioning for both, but he or she can also implement similar cues used on the bench press such as “pull the bar apart” and “crush the barbell with your hands.”  As a result these variations, particularly the pushup and row, have a tremendous carryover effect to the bench press helping to dial in mechanics and maximize motor control.

What About Overload?

Although you won’t use much overload on the anti-chaos method you can still expect some significant muscle growth and strength gains.  That’s because the metabolic stress, overall pump, and mechanical tension produced in the upper extremities from this is quite intense.  So be prepared to feel a huge burn. In addition, your body will thank you as your shoulder stability, horizontal pressing mechanics, and motor control will be markedly improved.

The Isolateral Hanging Band Method

Some lifters may find the isolateral hanging band method without the barbell more shoulder friendly as the hands are placed into a neutral position rather than a pronated position.

The neutral grip often allows improved shoulder retraction and external rotation of the shoulder joint making it easier to centrate the shoulder and depress the scapula.  The stimulus to the musculature is similar to the anti-chaos barbell version however the transfer to other barbell movements such as bench press won’t be quite as strong.

Inverted Rows

As previously mentioned the anti-chaos band method can be applied to a number of bodyweight movements including rows. 

In fact, the inverted row performed in this fashion is unbelievably intense as the entire posterior chain from head to toe including the upper back, lats, rear delts, neck, glutes, hamstrings, biceps, and grip get absolutely pummeled. As a result this is one of the single most effective exercises for improving posture and spinal alignment as every segment of the body is forced to be perfectly aligned with no energy leaks or movement aberrations.  Just like the pushups the goal when performing these is as little bouncing as possible as this will require the most rock solid mechanics and the highest level of motor control.

Anti-Chaos Trap Bar Variations

The anti-chaos method can also be applied to the trap bar as demonstrated in the video below by one of my awesome clients Leslie Petch and myself.  Besides providing a slightly greater level of instability that the lifter must learn to control, it also allows the lifter to assume a neutral grip for bodyweight movements such as pushups and inverted rows.  

This can place the glenohumeral joint into a more structurally sound position and help the lifter pack and centrate the the shoulder.  Just like the barbell the key is to go incredibly slow as a means of reducing any and all forms of chaotic energy and bouncing.  In other words try to keep the bar as still as possible.

Single Arm Variations

Performing anti-chaos barbell band inverted rows in a single arm fashion as shown in this video not only exponentially magnifies the overload effect to the upper back, but your entire core musculature will be forced to work overtime to resist rotation and maintain semi-neutral alignment. As a result this is one of the single most effective exercises for improving posture and spinal alignment as you’ll be forced to eliminate all energy leaks and address any imbalances or movement aberrations.

Just like the other movements in this article, the goal when performing these is as little bouncing as possible as this will require the most rock solid mechanics and the highest level of motor control. The degree of mechanical tension and metabolic stress not to mention mental concentration during these is inordinately high. Just be prepared to focus your mind like a master Jedi.

What About The Traditional Chaos Pushup?

It’s important to point out that this method is not necessarily superior to the traditional chaos method nor should it completely replace it.  Instead it simply provides a slightly different and unique stimulus.  In fact I have and will continue to use both protocols in my training arsenal for my clients and athletes as each variation (the chaos method and anti-chaos method) has its own unique attributes and benefits.

Training Recommendations

Finding the appropriate band setup for the user’s height and bodyweight will take a bit of trial and error but generally speaking 1-2 thicker bands or 2-3 moderate tension bands should do the job. 

To successfully complete a proper eccentric isometric rep on any of the anti-chaos band exercises the lifter will need to use a much slower cadence with each rep lasting 7-10 seconds.  Because of the extended time under tension I recommend using much lower reps than normal by performing several sets of 3-6 repetitions.  

If you’re looking for a training program and instructional guide that teaches you how to incorporate different movements such as these into your training routine, check out my Complete Templates Series.