Bands, Bands And Beyond
Resistance bands also called exercise bands, strength training bands and sometimes loop bands depending on the style have gained a lot of popularity as a versatile and effective training tool for all fitness levels. With their different models and configurations, resistance bands provide different levels of resistance to target any muscle or muscle group making them an important resistance training tool in a fitness lifestyle.
Resistance bands also offer major flexibility when combined with free weights and totally stand on their own as a complete training option yielding impressive options, abilities and of course, results.
Different Types Of Resistance Bands
One of the key advantages of using “elastics” especially for resistance exercises at home is the variety of resistance levels they offer. I’ve personally used and trained clients with a variety of resistance bands for several years because it’s super easy to progressively increase challenge levels as endurance and capacity for load increase and it’s super fast to set which is an added bonus.
The most versatile of these fitness band sets especially for home gym or travelling applications are IMO circular shaped loop style bands which usually have several different resistance sizes, each with a different weight range to accommodate a variety of resistance training and band assisted mobility applications.
Having given away my go to favourite style of bands I use a variety of resistance bands styles including mini bands and tube resistance bands on a regular if not daily basis. None the less whats most important to most people is that their fitness band sets allow them to customize their workouts according to the their changing fitness goals and skill levels, especially as they’re programs progress. The common consensus in my circles is that a five band set is typically enough to provide the widest range of options and 5 band sets are coincidently pretty common.
When you’re new to using bands in your training you’ll appreciate that most bands are clearly marked with a weight range, these markings help you to quickly and easily identify single bands and select the right resistance levels for your exercises. The weight ranges are usually labeled using colour coding or numeric values and often both.
Can You Progress With Resistance Bands?
Another benefit of having a fuller set especially when you start out is that varying resistance sizes allow for different fitness levels, goals and importantly, skill levels. Beginning trainees, people with strength limitations i.e rehab or people who are just simply detrained probably want to start with a band that exerts the lightest resistance. Most of you know that progression in resistance training has a lot to do with skill acquisition. Beginning with lighter resistance gives you the confidence to master the combination of muscle recruitment patterns and technique in most movements and that is something that resistance bands excel at offering. There is a saying, “slow is smooth and smooth is fast”, which IMO expresses very well the relationship between progression and mastery in resistance training and resistance bands are pretty dang good at that. Having said, bands with higher resistance will come in handy pretty quick too. All around, the flexibility of bands allows both for as much progressive overload and modulation of intensity as anyone could possibly want in a workout. Your typical five band set will provide all the options and flexibility most trainees will ever need at whatever fitness or skill level you’re at.
Durability and Skin-Friendly Material for Long-Lasting Use
Apart from versatility, durability is a crucial factor in fitness equipment. The two main material options are rubber and latex. Rubber bands are non-allergenic and UV-resistant but have less elasticity and aren’t biodegradable. I’ve been using mainly a 100% latex set daily for about three years and they’ve done very well by me. Generally latex is stronger, has more elasticity and is biodegradable. I’ve put mine through lot’s of use and they’ve retained their original shape and full functionality over all that time. I’ve found the latex is easy on the skin, no irritation or discomfort during or after workouts and they haven’t cracked or show signs of drying in the last 3 years. My tube and mini-bands which get used about one quarter as often also perform very well but I do find they slide less easily across the skin (especially the mini-bands) and if I were to use them more often it might annoy me a bit.
Resistance Band Accessories
Resistance bands work perfectly all by themselves but there are a few accessories that can really make then feel higher value. Why do I think there’s a lot of stuff available, there two accessories in particular that increasing the potential of your resistance bands versatility and ultimately your results
The first accessory you’re going to absolutely want is a *door anchor.
*Door anchors are small, light weight and easily fit in your bag when you’re traveling, you can even bring it to work. You just pop against the frame of an open door, close the door on the anchor and you now have a solid anchor point anywhere around the door frame to connect your resistance bands and get to work.
The next accessory you want to consider is a set of handles, now if you have a set of resistance bands that came with handles that have an easy access clip that won’t damage you’re resistance bands, great, skip this part. If you have an older set of bands that may have come with small mouth karabiner type handles that are too small to accommodate the larger elastics, you risk damaging the band and making it useless and dangerous.
If you simply don’t have handles yet, using them with your elastics for biceps curls, deadlifts and cable cross-over type movements to name a few make s the movement feel gym quality at a super low price, check out these J hook styled handles. I love this design because of its ease of use and in contrast to fiddling around with a tiny karabiner opening and possibly damaging your band it’s immediate access, hook it in and bang you’re ready to go. Handles are time saving, equipment life extending and offer an overall improvement to your connection with the band, just makes sense (IMO) especially if resistance bands are you primary equipment.
Full Body Potential
A key aspect of resistance bands is their ability to provide a full body workout. With the help of door anchors and handles, resistance bands can target a variety of upper body muscle groups, including the chest, waist, back as well as the quads, hammies (hamstrings), glutes and lower leg. This versatility makes them a no brainer choice for so many exercises and training programs. Whether it’s for prehab, mobility, rehab, strength or increasing muscle, resistance bands are a comprehensive set of tools for your entire body.
Resistance Bands Are Your Anywhere Gym
One of the biggest advantages of resistance bands is their portability. Unlike even the smallest of bulky gym equipment, resistance bands are super compact, lightweight and highly portable. You might use them most often at home but you can take them literally anywhere. They’re the first thing in my travel bag (second actually after my supps) meaning you can enjoy a near full gym quality workout experience anywhere, anytime. Resistance bands give you the ability to stay consistent with your training regardless of your location or access to traditional workout facilities, big win for resistance bands.
Are Resistance Bands Safe?
Yes, resistance bands are designed to be used over and over again. Properly maintained resistance bands are very safe. Like any piece of equipment, the key is to work within their range of resistance and not stretch the bands beyond their specification. If you store them properly, exercise safely and replace them whenever they show signs of wear like abrasion, cuts or loss of elasticity, you can expect several enjoyable years of gains from your investment.
Best Home Exercise Investment
In conclusion, resistance bands offer a complete training solution with a ton of benefits that we’ve only begun to touch in this article. With the versatile resistance levels, durability, portability and wide availability of accessories, resistance bands provide an effective and convenient way to improve strength, flexibility, and overall fitness. I hope you do add resistance bands into your fitness lifestyle and enjoy the options they add to your fitness journey.
Coach Neil D
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About the author:
On a mission to improve wellbeing and quality of life through
training and nutrition, Neil blogs at iSmart Nutrition
and is a Gen-X Fitness Lifestyle Coach at Champion Fit 365.
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