Resistance bands 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.
Seniors are not the only ones who like bands. Many top amateur and
professional athletes use them. Former pro-football star Terrell Owens
is a bands advocate. A Wall Street Journal article and video of Owens’ workout showed him using 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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