Arnold and Bill Kazmaier never used bands or chains
I guess the counter argument here is, if they had been available would they have used them?
Now I could ask them. I probably can have access to them both but I am sure they would both say unequivocally, 'Of course!"
When they were training at the heights of their careers, the 70's for Arnold and the 80's for Bill, they would have used ANYTHING to get better.
How did they train?
Now Bill was predominantly a Powerlifter and of course Arnold was a bodybuilder. Interestingly enough, Bill used a ton of bodybuilding exercises to get bigger and stronger and Arnold was a Powerlifter before specializing on building his massive physique. In many ways they trained the same except that for Bill his main aim was strength and mass and for Arnold it was size and symmetry. For Bill, looking good was very much secondary and for Arnold strength was less important.
So having established that they basically trained the same and didn't have fancy equipment and yet built massive strength and size without bands and chains what exactly did they use.
Well if you watch these videos you'll see they used basic barbells, dumbbells and pulley systems.
Bill Kazmaier training and seminar from 1988
Arnold and Co with some rarely seen footage from Gold's Gym.
You may think that Powerlifting thanks to Louie Simmons utilizes chains and bands more to accomodate the resistance of the strength curve in a particular movement. However, in recent times coaches like John Meadows have introduced them into bodybuilding with spectacular results.
Chains and bands certainly have their places in weight training these days and rightly so.
Dave Tate wrote this great article about them for Powerlifting HERE
John Meadows wrote about them for Bodybuilding HERE
I've actually used them myself many times. For me the jury is out as to how much I gain from using them but they are fun, look cool and make you really think about your lifting. Anything that makes lifting harder has to be better as far as I'm concerned.
One version that is easy to do in any gym is Chaos or Stability/Unstable Bench Presses.
Simply attach two bands to the bar and hang weights off the end. You have to fight to control the bar as it wobbles and you have to maintain good form or you'll lose control. I'm putting my feet on the bench to to make it just that tad harder.
Here's a video of yours truly doing 160kg/350lbs bench press with this set up (140kg straight weight plus 20kg hanging on bands)
The point here is that you don't NEED bands and chains but sure they are a nice variation from time to time and certainly may have an impact on the training of some people. Bill and Arnold probably would have utilized both but they never had them and they did pretty good with just good old barbells, dumbbells and pulleys…
…and so can you!