Authored by Andy Chasse’ in Education, Exercise
Published on 06-25-2009
Resistance bands are a little known method of exercise that may actually yield some fairly strong gains. In some cases, these bands actually allow for a more efficient and productive workout. Whether athlete or recreational lifter, everyone could stand to benefit from a few sets of resistance band work.
Resistance bands have existed for quite a while at this point, but are only recently becoming used more in the gym setting. While a number of fitness professionals may be seen using bands regularly with their clientele, everyday gym goers rarely make use of this essential tool. Resistance bands may be used to move an exercise from one plane to another, as a lighter and less challenging alternative to free weights, or even as a rehabiliation tool for physical therapy patients. While the list of uses runs on nearly indefinitely, those three categories encompass the major aspects of resistance band function.
Bands are found in a variety of colors. These colors actually represent the strength, or tension, of the band. There are a number of companies that have released these bands into the market with a number of different colors. Unfortunately, these companies chose not to color-coordinate. When purchasing bands, be sure to read everything carefully and understand the level of difficulty the bands provide.
As far as the actual exericises, there are too many to list. Following are a few of the most important and easiest ways to tie resistance bands into any training program.
1) Bodyweight movements are a perfect way to get a feel for a new set of bands and break them in a bit. Believe it or not, bands may be incorporated into a number of bodyweight movements including the pushup, situp, jumping jack, lunge, squat, and many others. However, the two easiest exercises to transition to bands are the pushup and squat.
- For the pushup, start by draping the band over the upper back. Allow it to come down through the elbows and grip each end tightly in each hand. Get into a normal pushup position and proceed to execute the movement as normal. Depending on the band tension, this difficulty of the pushup may be either slightly or drastically increased. 20 pushups with a band isn’t even near the same level of difficulty as 20 normal bodyweight pushups!
- Band training with the squat is just as simple. Stand straight with both feet on top of bottom of the band. Be sure to set a comfortable stance as this is done. Now reach down and pull the band up to the shoulders to the position where a barbell would normally sit during the squat. Grip the band with both hands just as if gripping a barbell. There should be a fair amount of tension in this locked position. Finally, squat down just as usual. The tension will kick in on on the way up and provide resistance just as a barbell and dumbbells do.
2) As mentioned above, bands are essential in the rehabilitation of injury. In addition, they function just as well in the prevention of injury. A couple of commonly injured areas include the elbows and shoulders. Injuries in both of these areas generally involves the overuse factor – just a little too much and a little too heavy in too short of a time. The bands may be used as prehabilitation exercises to combat both elbow and shoulder overuse.
- Band pushdowns are an excellent movement to maintain elbow health. This exercise is performed exactly as done with a cable apparatus. Simply hook one end of the band above your head onto something heavy that isn’t likely to give. Grip the other end with both hands. Extend the elbows until straight, just as in a cable tricep pushdown. Make sure to prevent the elbows from flaring too far out. Perform high reps with a light band.
- Band pull-aparts do a great job in preventing shoulder injury. Stand straight and lift the band above the head, directly in line with the shoulders. With elbows locked, simultaneously pull to the right and to the left with each hand. When the band is significantly stretched, allow both hand to move back inward and repeat. This movement will likely be felt in the shoulders and upper back.