Every balanced workout routine should include both cardiovascular exercise and strength training. Traditionally, strength training and toning came in the form of free weights or weight machines. Today, a cheaper, more portable and super versatile mechanism is replacing weight racks in gyms and homes.
The resistance band looks pretty simple, and it is. Made of sturdy, elastic material that can reach under and around various parts of your body, it’s a straight ribbon of fabric that may have a handle attached at either end. Originally these bands were used as rehabilitation tools, but they have gained the attention of physical trainers and active people everywhere. The key asset of the resistance band is its ability to stretch and strengthen nearly every muscle group in your body for full body fitness.
Types of Resistance Bands
There are two main types of resistance bands, the flat ribbon version and the tubing style.
The flat band is often used in pilates exercises, as it is easy and comfortable to wrap around bare feet and can be stretched and moved in a variety of ways. The tubing style is more often used in place of weights for more conventional and stationary lifting routines; it’s typically less elastic and therefore provides more resistance for a more challenging set of repetitions.
Aside from the basic style, there are a few things to consider when buying your band. First, the band must be long enough to give you a full range of motion. Next, find the right resistance for your level of fitness and type of activity, perhaps buying a couple of bands with different levels of resistance so you can adjust as needed. If you opt for the tubing variety, be sure the band has strong handles to help you maneuver it smoothly and securely.
Using Your Resistance Band
A strength training circuit is a great way to reap the rewards that your resistance band can offer, and it’s very easy to personalize your workout.
Your circuit should cover both the upper and lower body, targeting major and minor muscle groups. Incorporate exercises such as standing shoulder presses, seated rows, leg lifts and forearm exercises — these would typically require a machine or free weights, but can be done just as effectively with your resistance band.
With hand-held weights, you get more resistance at one specific point in the movement, but the tension is constant with the band. This means that more muscles will be working throughout each phase of the movement, which can take some getting used to. Also, it can be tricky to find the best way to use the band, so get creative: stand on the band, wrap the band around a pole or find your own way to use it.
The possibilities of resistance bands are endless, and if you pay careful attention to your form, you should not only be able to increase your coordination and balance, but also your strength in no time at all.