For today’s focus on post, I want to talk about a pretty versatile piece of fitness equipment: resistance bands!
At first glance, bands may not seem like anything crazy, but don’t let their simplicity fool you! I believe that they can be a valuable fitness tool and make any workout challenging.
Here are just some of their many benefits and why I think they are a great option for people of any age or fitness level:
> Bands are lightweight, portable, and compact, making them simple to travel with and/or store at home. I speak with many women who believe that they can’t get a good workout in while on vacation, traveling for work, or even from home because they don’t have access to any decent equipment. Bands literally nip this excuse right in the bud!
> Bands are cost-effective. I also speak with many women who aren’t sure how to strength train if they do not have access to a full gym full of equipment and if they cannot afford to purchase a ton of equipment for home. A variety pack of resistance bands is pretty inexpensive, no gym membership required! Seriously, almost any exercise you’d perform on a cable machine at the gym can be done with a band instead.
> Bands are low impact and easier on the joints than other training equipment such as dumbbells, kettlebells, and barbells can be. This makes them an excellent option for those with issues such as arthritis.
> Bands give you more time under tension, as resistance must be maintained throughout every part of the movement. This also requires an extra stability component to maintain the correct movement pattern for each exercise.
> Bands are very easily adjustable. Typically they are sold in packs so that you can get an entire set of bands with different resistance levels. Not only can you change the difficulty of a move by increasing reps, or simply swapping out or doubling up on bands, but you can also maneuver your own positioning to make an exercise harder or easier. For example, in movements such as standing band rows or standing chest presses, the further away you position yourself from the band’s anchor point, the more difficult the exercise will be. On the flip side, the closer you position yourself to the band’s anchor point, the easier the exercise will be. You can also adjust your feet if performing a movement standing on the band such as lateral raises, or you can adjust your hands in exercises such as single leg deadlifts or chest presses.
> Bands can kick your traditional in gym strength training up a notch by helping out with both progressions and regressions. For progressions, bands can add more RESISTANCE during the phase of the movement that would normally be easier. For regressions, band can add more ASSISTANCE during the most difficult part of the lift, such as getting up and over the bar in a chinup.
A couple of things to be mindful of when incorporating resistance bands into your training:
To ensure you are properly training the different muscle groups of your whole body, it’s important to invest in a few different bands so you have a variety of resistance levels to choose from. For example, I know I will typically need a lighter resistance band for shoulder exercises, whereas I typically need to use much heavier/thicker band for leg work. Sometimes I’ll double or triple up to feel a more challenging resistance, so it wouldn’t behoove me to only have one band level at my disposal.
It’s hard to accurately measure the resistance of resistance bands. Since most bands classify by light, medium, heavy, extra heavy, etc. as described above, and not by a numerical weight like you’d find on dumbbells, you have to gauge personal progression by how you feel. I find that people tend to underestimate how much resistance they are actually capable of using, and they also find it difficult to quantify and measure their gains.
There are a couple of different types of bands out there, and I often receive questions about which are the “best” to use. I recommend continuous flat loop bands, tube bands with handles (plus the door anchor), and minibands.
Bands aren’t the best for your low rep workouts or max lifts… just not the best modality for that!
Finally, as people adjust to using resistance bands as part of their training, some find it challenging at first to figure out where to anchor the bands, especially at home. Around any rack or fixture is perfect, and many of my distance training clients will anchor their bands around banisters and porch legs at home or around poles at the playground while their kids run around. However, many variety packs of bands that are sold online also come with door anchors to make this process less cumbersome. Highly recommend!
Want to try a resistance band workout? Do a 5 minute dynamic warmup, and then give the following a go!