While most of us are familiar with free weights for resistance training, they do have some drawbacks. They’re large, bulky and relatively expensive. It’s highly unlikely you’re going to throw them into your suitcase when you travel – especially if you’re paying for your luggage by weight. For a far cheaper and more lightweight alternative, you might want to try resistance bands. Virtually any exercise that you can do with free weights you can also do with resistance bands. They’re also unique in that not only can they make an exercise more difficult, but they can also make certain exercises easier. If you’re wondering how to use resistance bands and incorporate them into your fitness program, we’ve put together this article.
What Are Resistance Bands?
Resistance bands are rubberized or elasticized bands that are used for exercise or physical therapy. They come in a wide variety of sizes, shapes and strengths which make them useful in a number of different exercises designed to improve strength. They’re often colour coded to allow you to differentiate their relative strengths and choose them according to the exercise you’re performing or body part you’re working. Although resistance bands are often used to provide resistance, they can also provide assistance during certain exercises such as pull ups or chin ups. The band provides support and allows you to more easily perform an exercise that may be impossible without. This gives resistance bands a versatility that free weights don’t exhibit.
Choosing the Right Strength of Resistance Band
Because of the variety of strengths of resistance bands that are available, they can be used for a number of different exercises by people of all strengths and abilities. Matching the resistance to the type of exercise you’re attempting is the first step in incorporating them into your workout. As you would when using free weights, you should start with a resistance band that provides enough of a challenge to make you work hard, but not so much that it affects your form. If you find you can do 12 to 15 reps of a certain exercise without feeling tired, you should try a stronger resistance band. Ideally you should be able to complete 12 to 15 reps of the exercise with proper form, but still feel tired afterwards.
How to Use Resistance Bands?
Resistance bands are good for not only providing resistance when contracting your muscles, they will also cause resistance when your muscles are extending back to their original position. In other words, your muscles are being worked in two different directions. Smaller resistance bands are typically used to work the lower body by wrapping them around the ankles, knees or thighs. Larger resistance bands are more often used for working the upper body – often by attaching it to an immobile object or pinning the band to the floor using your foot and using the muscles of your upper body to stretch it out. You can also use resistance bands to provide extra support during exercises such as chin ups. By wrapping one end of the band around the chin up bar and the other around your ankles or knees, the band can help you do chin ups or pulls up if you don’t yet have the strength to do them without.
Types of Resistance Band
There are several different types of resistance bands and each one has its benefits when it comes to certain types of exercises. Handled resistance bands are typically made of rubber tubing and feature handles to allow for a good grip. Sometimes the tubing forms a figure eight to provide extra resistance. Handled bands can be used for curls, presses and many other exercises associated with free weights. Loop bands look like large rubber bands and can help with the aforementioned chin ups and pull ups. However, they can also be used for resistance in a similar manner as the handled bands. Therapy bands are usually made of the same material as loop bands, but they aren’t looped. They’re more commonly used for rehabilitative purposes.