“…You have to make sure also that those bands are in good condition. Because after use, it’s like a rubber band, it breaks.”
– Lori Michiel on Senior Fitness Safety, AirTalk with Larry Mantle
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Choosing and Using Resistance Bands
Resisting Resistance Bands
Some of the problems people often have with resistance bands include:
- The resistance feels different. When you use free weights, gravity decides where the weight comes from, so you get more resistance during one part of the movement (such as the upswing of a bicep curl) than the other (the downswing). With bands, the tension is constant, which makes it feel harder. But, think of it like a cable machine, because it works the same way, only cheaper.
- Resistance bands aren’t as challenging as machines or dumbbells. With weights, you know exactly how much you’re lifting. With bands, you can only go by how it feels and the tension on the band. That doesn’t mean you’re not getting a good workout, though. If you use good form and the right level of tension, your muscle fibers won’t know the difference between weights or bands. Plus, bands offer more variety because you can create the resistance from all directions–the side, overhead, below, etc.
- You don’t know how to use them. It can be confusing trying to figure out how to use a band. Keep in mind that you can perform the same exercises as you do with free weights–the difference lies in positioning the band. For example, you can stand on the band and grip the handles for bicep curls or overhead presses. You can attach it to a door and do lat pull downs or tricep pushdowns. You can wrap the band around a pole for chest exercises or shoulder rotations. The possibilities are endless and you’ll find there are a number of exercises and workouts available.
Why You Should Try Resistance Bands
- They travel well. You can easily pack them in your suitcase for travel and do exercises in the car or in your hotel room.
- They increase coordination. Because there’s tension throughout the exercises, you have to stabilize your body. This helps with coordination, balance and it also helps you involve more muscle groups.
- They add variety. With weights, you’re often limited as to how many exercises you can do. But, the resistance band allows you to change your positioning in multiple ways. This changes how your body works and how an exercise feels.
- They’re cheap. Bands range anywhere from $6 to $20, depending on how many you get and where you buy them, which is nice for the budget-conscious exerciser.
- They’re great for all fitness levels. Depending on how you use them, bands can be great for beginners as well as more advanced exercisers. You can use them for basic moves or to add intensity to traditional moves.
Choosing the Right Band for You
Tips for buying bands:
- Buy a variety of bands. Most bands are color-coded according to tension level (e.g., light, medium, heavy, very heavy). It’s best to have at least three – light, medium and heavy since different muscle groups will require different levels of resistance.
- Buy comfortable, easy-to-use-bands. Try to buy bands with padded handles and make sure you don’t have to change them out.
- Buy accessories. One key to using bands is having different ways to attach them. If you have a sturdy stair or chair (if choosing to do seated exercises) in your house to wrap the band around for exercises, you may not need much more than bands. But, if you don’t, you may want a door attachment.
- Keep it simple. If you’re just getting started, stick with your basic long tube with handles. Once you figure out how to use it, you may want to buy other types later for variety.
Resistance Band Workout for Beginners
This resistance band workout targets the entire body – chest, back, shoulders, arms and legs. These are basic exercises suitable for beginner or intermediate exercisers. If you’re new to strength training and/or resistance bands, take your time with each move and perfect your form. Start with one set of 8 to 16 repetitions of each exercise using a light or medium resistance band, adding sets gradually. For each move, there are suggested band levels – light, medium, or heavy. Some exercises may require a heavier band while upper body moves may require a lighter band. For many exercises, you can control the tension by your positioning and/or by where you grab onto the band.
- Warm up with five to ten minutes of some type of cardio exercise
- Cool down by stretching
- Do this workout two to three nonconsecutive days a week
- Do this in addition to your regular cardio exercise for best results
- Exercises do not have to be performed on a stability ball
Rear Delt Fly
Lateral (Side) Walks
Keep in mind that if you have any injuries or unique physical requirements, some exercises may need to be altered.