Using Resistance Bands Makes Exercise Simple and Stress Free
No matter the style, bands and tubes make at home workouts easy, practical and portable.
he excuses for not exercising are legion: I don’t have the (time, money, inclination) to go to the gym. My home doesn’t have room for exercise equipment. I’m bored with my workout video. I’m out of town all the time.
I’m too (old, out of shape, injured) to start an exercise regimen. Whatever the reason, there’s one form of fitness training that can give you a whole-body workout with a minimum of fuss and bother — resistance bands. They come in all forms and sizes, from as simple as a knotted piece of rubber tubing to what looks like a thick rubber band, to figure 8s, to braided bands with handles to pieces of stretchy “fabric.”
Whatever the style, the principle is the same: Resistance training is key to stimulating bone and muscle growth by providing a force your muscles must work against. Free weights or weight machines do much the same thing, but bands offer additional benefits for people at all fitness levels. “The nice thing about a band, compared to a weight, is that you’ve got a constant resistance that’s typically within the plane of the pull on the band versus a weight, which depends on gravity,” said Chris Stavres, clinical coordinator at Tallahassee Memorial Hospital’s outpatient Orthopedic Therapy Clinic.
“It offers you different levels of control so as you pull the band, the tension of the band increases and you have to slowly release that tension as well. You’re working different aspects of the strengthening where with a traditional cuff weight or a dumbbell, you don’t often get that.” Manager Jade Treadwell says Pure Barre often adds resistance bands to the studio’s low-impact workouts.
“Resistance tubes are a nice way to add a little external load to your muscles so you’re gaining all of that muscular endurance, strength and power principles, but it doesn’t add that heavy load on your joints,” she said. Kim Bibeau, owner of Sweat Therapy Fitness, concurs. “They’re so versatile that anybody can use them. They’re good for stretching, good for strength and good for cardio,” she said.
“You can adjust your band to make it harder or easier.” She’s also sold on the cost and convenience. “Resistance bands don’t take up a lot of space. We never leave home without one,” Bibeau said. “They’re easy to use when you’re alone. And you can do a lot of exercises, such as shoulder work, that might hurt you if you did them with weights.”
Exercises from the Pros
Jade Treadwell of Pure Barre offers an exercise that focuses on legs but with a few adjustments can provide benefits to your core and arms too: Double up a two-loop band and place it mid-thigh. Assume a wall-sit position and press your thighs apart. From this position, you can add more challenging moves. For example, you can rise up and down on your toes, either together or one at a time. Or, try to move your thighs outward in small pulses. Raising your arms above your head at the same time will engage your core even more.
Kim Bibeau of Sweat Therapy Fitness has an arm exercise that will help with posture and to help counter the hunching over we’re inclined to do when at a desk or driving. Grab the ends of a stretch band in each hand, extend your arms forward at chest level and pull. Relax as you bring your arms over your head and pull the band outward behind your head. To add a little cardio and leg boost, lunge forward when your arms are in front and bring your feet together to do the behind-the-head move.
Chris Stavres describes an exercise that can help with balance and stability. Loop a resistance band around one ankle and a pole or something sturdy like a table leg. Stand on the other leg and, with the banded leg off the floor, pull that leg back and forth while attempting to stand tall. For an added challenge, hold a ball and extend your arms forward. For those who are unstable, stand next to a wall or chair to help if you feel unstable.
For 33 more resistance band exercises, visit greatist.com/fitness/resistance-band-exercises.