Resistance Band Training
Can Be A Real Bargain
Resistance band training is one of the most affordable and versatile exercise options, a very portable alternative for muscle building and all around fitness. Nearly any weight training movement can be duplicated with exercise bands. And because they are compact and portable, they are convenient and perfect for both home gyms and traveling. Seniors, especially, who have downsized to smaller quarters, or others with limited space, will really appreciate a compact set of resistance bands.
Will your results differ from using free weights?
Expect band resistance to feel a little different than using free weights. But adjusting to them does not take long at all. And when you do, your muscle fiber won’t know the difference between bands and free weights. This is not meant to slam dumbbells and barbells. Free weights are the gold standard. Yet in some ways bands actually have the edge. As mentioned above, they are so compact they are practically invisible. Storing them in a small drawer is easy. Compare that with having to find a spot for an exercise machine or barbells in a bedroom or elsewhere in the house. Another advantage over even free weights has to do with gravity. When you lift free weights gravity plays a role. With bands, however, the tension is constant, which tends to be easier on your joints. Seniors, especially, often prefer bands because of this. When you try them, you will feel the difference right away.
But seniors are not the only ones who like bands. Many top amateur and professional athletes use them. The Dallas Cowboys football team is one example. Pro-football star Terrell Owens is a bands advocate. A recent Wall Street Journal article and video of Owens’ workout showed him using resistance bands as his primary equipment.
What to look for . . .
Generally, the bands are color-coded according to the resistance level, ranging from very-light resistance to light, medium, heavy, and extra-heavy. Most companies also indicate on each band the resistance equivalent measured in pounds. I don't know what formula they use to determine the pound measurements. Experience with the bands I have used is that they provide more resistance than the pounds indicated. However, I find this unimportant. You quickly learn which bands, or combinations, offer the resistance you want on any exercise. A beginner, of course, starts with light resistance and works up in the same progressive method used with free weights. The already fit and strong person may attach more than one band to the handles for added resistance. Add more than one of the heavy resistance bands to the handles and, believe me, you will be challenged.
I recommend buying the accessories such as a door anchor attachment, ankle cuffs, and a strap to wrap around poles. These greatly increase the variety of exercises you can do. As mentioned above, practically any exercise you can do with free weights or machines can be duplicated with bands. Many companies sell complete workout packages that include a variety of resistance level bands and all the accessories at about $100. Single bands run from about $6 to $20, depending on their thickness and resistance level.
In brief, resistance bands are safe, effective, fun to work with, and inexpensive. They can be integrated into free weights routines, used for variety, or as stand alone equipment.
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