Having run a mobile personal training business for years I know how effective simple bodyweight calisthenics can be for helping folks get leaner, fitter and stronger and for a long time I have been extolling their benefits. However, if there is one supplement to bodyweight exercise which I am growing increasingly fond of then it is resistance bands.
These lightweight, durable training tools are taking pride of place in many of my fitness programs and have become regular travel companions when I head abroad. In this article I am going to take a quick look at the main advantages of resistance band training and encourage you to experiment adding them to your own workout regimen.
Whereas dumbbells and kettlebells generate resistance via the physical weight of the object, bands and cables generate resistance through elastic tension. This makes them very light and exceptionally portable. Armed with some bands and your own bodyweight you have a everything you need for a comprehensive full body workout.
Most bands and cables can be hooked up to a door, tree, post or simply pinned down by your own body making them an extremely versatile indoor/outdoor fitness solution. Depending on which set up you choose there are tons of different lower body and upper body movements you can perform including strength exercises, muscle building exercises, endurance exercises, power exercises. assistance exercises, flexibility exercises and rehabilitation exercises.
SUITABLE FOR ALL FITNESS LEVELS
Resistance bands are perfect for the fitness novice yet can also be scaled to the highly advanced. Believe me, working with thick heavy bands is no joke. As with any other form of strength training it is simply a case of choosing the exercises and resistance level appropriate for your level of fitness.
+/- TO BODYWEIGHT EXERCISES
You can use resistance bands to add assistance to certain bodyweight movements like squats, lunges and pull ups. Perfect for the fitness newbie. Conversely you can use bands to add resistance to certain bodyweight movements like push ups. Perfect for the more advanced trainee.
+/- TO WEIGHTED EXERCISES
In a similar vein bands can be used to assist/resist certain movements in the weight room like squats, benches presses, arm curls etc. Proceed with a bit of caution here as the last thing you want is to lose control of a bar and have a resistance band hurtle the weight towards your exposed torso.
KIND ON JOINTS
My joints seem much happier when training with resistance bands. Unlike traditional weight training the resistance applied by a band is not uniform throughout the movement. The more a band is stretched the greater the resistance. From a biomechanical standpoint, your body is often weakest in the starting position of an exercises and strongest as you approach lockout. This biomechanical strength curve is mimicked by resistance bands. When your joints are in a weaker position, the resistance is less. When your joints are in a more favorable position for producing force, the resistance is more.
More of an economical advantage but I purchased my resistance bands over six years ago and, one band aside, they are still all in great condition. During this time they have navigated thousands of tough workouts with myself and my private training clients. That is a pretty good return on investment.
Whilst I am clearly a big fan of resistance bands they are not without their disadvantages too and in a follow up article I will address these areas of weakness. Stay tuned.