These inexpensive exercise tools are a convenient option for people of any age or fitness level. But don’t let their simplicity fool you. Resistance band exercises are surprisingly effective and offer many benefits over traditional free weights.
Whether you buy them individually or as a set, resistance bands are an inexpensive addition to your home gym equipment. Some resistance bands are even are sold with a guided exercise DVD.
Resistance bands come in multiple resistance levels, usually light, medium or heavy. You can further adjust the amount of resistance during exercise just by giving more or less slack on the band, as well as by combining multiple resistance bands to increase the challenge.
Resistance band exercises are often based on familiar strength-training moves. For example, if you stand on one end of the cord and curl your arm up while holding the other end, you’ve replaced your standard dumbbell bicep curl.
Many resistance band kits come with suggested exercises for nearly every major muscle group in your body. Stepping on one end of a resistance band or looping it around a stationary object, for example, opens up many exercise possibilities.
When you don’t have a lot of room for a home gym, resistance bands are a great option that store in very little space. You can hang them on a hook after you exercise, or coil them up to store in a box or drawer.
Because they are so small and portable, resistance bands are a great way to take your workout with you when you travel. There are many resistance band exercises that can easily be done in the small space of a hotel room.
Over time, your muscles adapt to any new exercise routine. It’s a good idea to mix it up by cross-training with free weights, machines and resistance band exercises. Each will work your muscles in a slightly different way.
Resistance bands offer strength-training without the risk of dropping a heavy weight on your foot or crushing your fingers between weight plates. That makes them ideal for working out when you don’t have a personal trainer or exercise partner to spot you.
While resistance bands work great on their own, they can also be combined with other exercise equipment. Performing bicep curls with both a resistance band and a dumbbell will give you the combined benefits of each type of equipment.
Although there are differences between free weight and resistance band exercises, both are effective. Picture the arc motion your arm makes while doing a bicep curl. Free weights will feel heaviest at the beginning of that arc, while resistance bands make your muscles work harder at the end of the arc (when the band is most taut). Either way, your body is moving against resistance, and that will give your muscles an effective workout.
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LESS CHANCE OF INJURY
According to StrengthandConditioningResearch.com, training with elastics bands provides similar and sometimes even greater muscle activity as weight training. One major difference is that is involves a lower amount of force on the joints, which means that more stimulus can be provided to the muscles with less chance of injury. This is also good news for anyone with existing injuries or joint pain, because resistance bands may allow you to continue working out and performing exercises that you can’t with dumbbells.
ENHANCED MUSCLE STIMULUS
If you’re looking to gain muscle size and strength, you can use bands in place of dumbbells and machines to provide a new and challenging stimulus to your muscles for growth. You can also add them to barbell exercises to increase intensity and neuromuscular performance.
One major difference between free weights and resistance bands is the variable resistance applied through the full range of motion of an exercise. “The muscle is receiving greater resistance at its strongest point in the range of motion and therefore is receiving more adequate resistance to better stimulate strength adaptations,” according to Dr. Jim Stoppani. With free weights, there are actually parts of the movement when the muscles aren’t performing much work due to lack of gravity, such as at the top of a bicep curl.
One of the main advantages of resistance band exercises is the ability to provide continuous tension throughout the full range of motion. With free weights there’s always some part of movement when you don’t work straight against gravity. For example when doing biceps curl with dumbbells there’s almost no resistance when you get close to the shoulder. With elastic ropes there’s always resistance in every phase of the movement.of the main advantages of resistance band exercises is the ability to provide continuous tension throughout the full range of motion. With free weights there’s always some part of movement when you don’t work straight against gravity. For example when doing biceps curl with dumbbells there’s almost no resistance when you get close to the shoulder. With elastic ropes there’s always resistance in every phase of the movement.
The constant tension from bands adds an element of required stabilization from your body to maintain form during many exercises. This also means that you will often need to activate your core for balance. The need to control them from “snapping back into place” means greater stimulation and strength through the muscle’s full range of motion, and the pull of the bands reduces your ability to cheat by using momentum.
When using resistance bands, you can perform exercises in both the vertical and horizontal plane. For instance, you can do a chest press or back row in a standing position rather than having to use a bench. You can also train perform sideways movements, ideal for athletic activities like swinging a baseball bat or golf club, as well as and daily tasks like opening a door or moving a box. With dumbbells or barbells, you are limited to certain body positions in a vertical plane of motion to use the force of gravity.
Resistance bands have been proven to improve balance, strength, size, and function of muscles in the elderly as well as those undergoing rehabilitation. The stored acceleration energy of the band is ‘transferred’ into your muscles. The bands neurologically teach the body how to accelerate force and the end result is faster contracting muscles, all the time, without exception. And this translates into greater balance. Bands can provide very light or heavy resistance which can be used in targeted ways for specific muscles that also protects joints. Many physical therapists use resistance training to help treat arthritis. The additional muscle mass provides better control over your hands and reduces pain levels.
Resistance bands are great for both post-workout stretches, as well as pre-workout mobility work. Typically, you are limited during stretches by your level of flexibility and range of motion, and many effective stretches even require another person to provide pressure to the muscle. Instead, you can use bands to assist with stretching to extend your reach and provide pressure, such as with lying down hamstring stretches. Power bands are also excellent for mobility work when wrapped around sturdy object, such as improving ankle and hip mobility for squats.
Due to the fact that you can perform a variety of exercises with one band as mentioned in the examples above, it means you don’t need so many weights and machines. If you workout at home, a set of resistance bands can save you from buying so many expensive weights that also take up space.
It can be hard to fit in workouts or even find a gym when you travel. Bands are a perfect option to pack in your bag that allow you to workout in a hotel room or outdoors without heavy equipment. They won’t weigh down your luggage, but will still give you an effective, full-body workout. For this same reason, they’re ideal for bodybuilders and fitness competitors, as well as models who need to pump up their muscles prior to a show or photo shoot.
Power resistance bands are extremely effective for athletic training due to the increased load, variable resistance, and instability. According to one study from TheSportJournal.org, “Experienced power lifters and strength and conditioning professionals have claimed elastic band resistance combined with traditional training produces strength gains for several years”. One test using elastic tension for back squats and bench press demonstrated that the bench press increase was doubled, and the back squat one rep max improvement was nearly three times higher after using bands. “The [resistance band] group’s average lower body power increase was nearly three times better than the free-weight only group.”
Research also shows that using bands with weights improves neuromuscular performance and strength more than weight training alone. These bands can also be used for speed and agility drills for various athletic purposes.
Using a stretched elastic band as resistance, the stored acceleration energy of the band is ‘transferred’ into your muscles. The bands neurologically teach the body how to accelerate force and the end result is faster contracting muscles, all the time, without exception. And this translates into greater balance, speed and performance in football, basketball, baseball, soccer, tennis, golf, and just about any other sport you can think of. Linear Variable Resistance (LVR) means that the load progressively increases as the range of motion increases. One of the benefits of this is that the number of muscle fibers that are being used in the exercising muscle increases. The more muscle fibers used, the greater the muscle strength that can be achieved with the training program.