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6.10.2010

Chains, Cams, and Strength Curves

WorkoutKaylee Gittleson ran hurdles for Ann Arbor Pioneer High School. The team won three out of four Division I State Championships during her four years. Kaylee was told by her dad to write about training from her perspective on the Rogers Blog.

FROM THE COACH’S DAUGHTER

My Dad was a Strength Coach for 30 years. We literally live in a gym with furniture. You can’t always accept your environment. Sometimes you gotta ask questions.

We have quite a few chains that are hanging on the walls in our home. As a kid you kind of accept the décor of your house. You seldom ask ‘why is this picture here’ and ‘why do we have that vase’. I have never asked why there are big rocks on pedestals or why there is a huge Ironmaster Dumbbell in our living room. One day curiosity got the better of me and I asked my dad about the chains that graced our walls.

Chains

“Chains are crude cams for free weights, make no mistake about it.” he said.

WorkoutCrude cams for free weights? I looked up and read about cams on exercise machines. The purpose of the cam on an exercise machine is to vary the resistance based on the lever system of the targeted musculature. Cams allow you to maintain muscular tension. The exercise feels smooth and joint friendly.

Tension makes you grow.  Tension triggers protein synthesis and gets you strong.

Cams can vary the strength curve and make it harder at the top or harder at the bottom of a movement.

Hooking the chains over one of our barbells, I began my own experiment. Now it all made sense what people were doing. People were making exercise machines with free weights using chains. As each link of the chain comes off the floor, while lifting a given weight, the resistance becomes greater.

My father took me to the garage and showed me how you could make a cam with linkage or even thick rubber bands. He also showed me Tyler Hobson’s Pendulum method which allows you to make a machine that is hard at the top or bottom, which ever you preferred.  By preferential loading on Tyler’s machine any strength curve you desire could be made, even a curve that matches the free weight squat.

Workout on the Pendulum Squat Pro

Photo Courtesy of Kathy Leistner

He showed me the ‘yoke’ on the Pendulum Squat Pro and how it moved to accommodate the variations of the human lever system. This way tension is not lost and you Get Strong.

Pendulum Squat Pro

Wow, I learned some stuff about exercise. A few days later it dawned on me:

My father never answered why he had all the chains on our walls!

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