Many people are using resistance bands with their workouts both at home and in the gym because they provide so many benefits. They are more popular now than ever before because they are inexpensive and you can take them anywhere.
What are Resistance Bands?
Resistance bands are made of material that will stretch such as latex rubber. They are lightweight and strong and as the name suggests they provide additional resistance for exercising. Sometimes you will see resistance bands called by another name such as:
- Exercise bands
- Toning bands
- Strength bands
- Tension bands
- Physical therapy bands
At the end of the day they are all the same thing. Exercise bands are very versatile and you can use them to perform many different exercises and we will cover some of these in this article for you.
You can purchase resistance bands with different levels of resistance. This is good because you can use the different resistance levels as an alternative to using dumbbells, machine weights or barbells.
If you like to exercise at home then resistance bands are a really good idea. They are not heavy and don’t take up much space like weights and dumbbells do. If you are traveling then it is easy to take your resistance bands with you.
So do resistance bands really work well? Yes they do. You will get out of them what you put in. If you work hard with your resistance bands then you will feel the benefit. Think of resistance bands as an inexpensive and lightweight alternative to using dumbbells and weights.
Normally you will find that resistance bands are colour coded to denote the level of resistance. As an example it is common to find the lightest resistance bands to be yellow, followed by pink or red, then green, then blue and the heaviest resistance bands are often black. In some cases really heavy bands come in a silver or gold colour.
The Benefits of using Resistance Bands
Resistance Bands are Inexpensive
One of the most obvious advantages of resistance bands is that they are a lot less expensive than buying kettlebells, dumbbells and weights. Think about it – you are just buying stretchy material rather than specially made metal equipment.
To give you an idea it is likely that a good quality set of resistance bands would be less than 10% of the cost of a set of kettlebells or dumbbells. And when you compare them to buying a barbell and different weights then the cost is a mere fraction.
Resistance Bands are Versatile
Although resistance bands are a pretty simple concept they offer a great deal of versatility. This is certainly the case if you go for a mixture of light, medium, heavy and very heavy resistance bands. You can buy a set of bands that include one of each resistance level. Use the different resistance levels to match your fitness goals.
Another thing that you can do with exercise bands is vary the amount of slack when you use them to either make the exercise easier or more challenging. If you already have other resistance equipment such as dumbbells then you can use your strength bands as well to get better results.
Convenience and Portability
Because resistance bands are small and lightweight you can store them easily at home. It is also very easy to take your exercise bands with you when you travel. They will take up very little room in a suitcase or other traveling bag.
Whole Body Exercising
You can target every single muscle group in your body when you use resistance bands. It is possible to perform a whole body workout with exercise bands in around 20 minutes which is great news if you don’t have a lot of time.
To exercise a lot of different muscle groups with weights you would be looking at a much longer session. With the versatility of strength bands you can learn new types of total body exercises which will provide variety to your routines. Using exercise bands really is the easiest way to perform a whole body workout wherever you are.
They are Safer
If you follow the rules and don’t overdo it then weight training should be safe for you. But there is always the chance that something could go wrong and cause you a serious injury. This is especially true of you are weight training alone with nobody around to assist you.
There are no such concerns with exercise bands. You are a lot less likely to suffer an injury by using a set of resistance bands. OK there is a risk that they could work free from where you secured them and slap you hard. Is this painful? Yes it can be but it is nowhere near as serious as an accident involving heavy weights.
Latex Resistance Bands
Latex resistance bands are the most common type of exercise band. They are usually available in packs of three or five and have varying resistance levels. This is a good thing as you can use the different resistance levels for different types of exercises.
One of the advantages of a latex resistance band over a non latex resistance band is that they will stretch further. It is a good idea to use a latex resistance band for abdominal exercises as well as upper and lower body workouts.
Latex resistance bands will mimic weights in terms of the resistance they provide but they will not place additional pressure on your joints. This is good news for people of all ages and particularly for those that are recovering from an injury or have some kind of muscle pain issue.
One of the only issues with latex resistance bands is that they have a tendency to roll up. We would definitely not recommend using a latex exercise band on bare skin as the rolling up can stick and pull any hairs on the skin. You can easily clean latex resistance bands by wiping them down or rinsing them off.
Latex Free Resistance Bands
You will usually find latex free resistance bands made from fabric. You will not be able to get the same variety of resistance levels with latex free exercise bands as you can with their latex counterparts.
A latex free resistance band will not stretch as far as a latex one so it is best to use them for different exercises such as squats, hip thrusts and carb walks. We do not recommend using latex free resistance bands for upper body exercises.
Latex free exercise bands are usually stronger than latex bands so if you are at an advanced stage with weight lifting you may find them preferable. Normally latex free exercise bands come with grips to prevent any slide around or slide up issues.
Some people prefer to use latex free resistance bands because they are more comfortable to use then latex bands. You can actually add your latex free exercise bands to the wash so cleaning can be easier. A latex free resistance band is more environmentally friendly than a latex exercise band as well.
Mini Loop Resistance Bands
Mini loop resistance bands are becoming more and more popular for good reason. Like standard resistance bands you can use the mini loop kind to exercise just about every part of your body.
One of the best uses for mini loop exercise bands is for warming up prior to a work out or playing a sport. You can use your mini bands to easily target you’re your glutes and they are great at stabilizing your thigh and hip as you take every step forward.
Making your leg muscles strong is very important if you do a lot of running or play intense sports. You need stability and strength in your hip area so that you are in perfect condition for running or sports and avoid injury.
Using your mini loop resistance bands as a warm up for your upper body is also a good idea. Here you can target your shoulders before attempting to do more strenuous exercise such as lifting heavy weights.
You can also use your mini loop exercise bands as an alternative to conventional resistance bands for your main workout as well. It will probably be easier for you to progress with loop bands and when you increase the resistance you can certainly challenge various muscle groups.
Resistance Bands for Fitness Training
Before you begin any fitness training using exercise bands you need to do a warm up routine first (you can use mini loop resistance bands for this) and then when you have completed your workout you need to perform a cool down.
Be careful to check your breathing and make sure that you are not holding your breath during your exercise bands workout. It is always good to challenge yourself by increasing the resistance but don’t go too far so that you experience pain.
It is essential that you get the form of the various exercises right. This is far more important than performing an exercise incorrectly several times. It is all about quality over quantity. Make sure that you keep a good posture and adopt a strong core muscle stance when you perform your resistance band exercises.
You can choose the number of repetitions for each exercise but as a guide we recommend that you go for around 10 – 15 reps for each exercise to start with. If you have the energy then there is no reason why you shouldn’t complete more than one set of each exercise.
Some Upper Body Resistance Band Exercises
There are a lot of advantages for using exercise bands and we kick off with two exercises to target your upper body and then move on to other areas. Here are some good examples of effective resistance band fitness exercises:
Bent Over Row
This is good for your biceps, back and rear shoulder area. To perform this exercise properly you will need to use your core muscles so that you provide protection for your lower back. Start with the resistance band under your two feet while you hold the ends in both hands. Now bend forward using your hips (don’t bend your spine) and draw in your belly button.
Next you need bend your elbows to pull the band back. Squeeze in between your shoulder blades and keep your elbows close to your sides. Keep your shoulders down and back throughout. Try to pull the band as high as you can (knee height is best).
This is another good exercise for your biceps, back and rear shoulder area. It will be best if you perform this exercise on a flat surface such as an exercise mat on the floor. Sit with your knees bent and the exercise band at your feet. Hold on to the ends of the band with each hand. Use your elbows to pull the band towards you while keeping them close to your sides.
While you are performing this exercise be sure to squeeze your shoulder blades together. Keep your shoulders down and back. Pull the band towards you as far as you can. Remember to keep your back straight.
To perform this great exercise for your shoulders you need to sit comfortably and make sure your back is straight. Now place the band at the back of your shoulders and hold an end in each hand.
Now move your arms out in front of you with your shoulders down and back. Next roll your shoulders forward and then upwards and back to the start position. This will be a full circular motion if you perform it correctly.
This is a great exercise for your lower abs and your legs. You will need to start off by lying flat on your mat and then wrap the resistance band around your foot holding the ends in each hand. It may be difficult for you to fully extend your leg when you are starting out so bend your leg a little to make this easier.
You need to keep your core muscles strong with this exercise and ensure that both of your hips are on the floor. Avoid rocking from side to side and keep your body straight. Now start to make small circles with the leg that has the band on it. Then do this in the opposite direction.
This is a great resistance band exercise for the sides of your body. The starting position is the same as for the shoulder roll. Sit comfortably and make sure your back is straight. Now place the band at the back of your shoulders and hold an end in each hand.
Now you need to extend both of your arms out to the side. Make sure your shoulders are down and back. Use your torso to perform the twist while you sit firmly on the floor. Return to the start position and then repeat for the other side.
We have shown you just a very small example of the resistance training exercises you can perform with resistance bands here. There are many more and you should look for new ones online to vary your routine.