If you own just one piece of fitness equipment, let this be the one.
If you have never trained with any type of resistance band before, you might be surprised to find that resistance band training is very different from free-weights or body weight exercises. They can challenge your body in a different way.
When we use free weights we work against gravity, so we have resistance in one direction. With band training there is resistance in multiple directions. Being able to perform exercises in all planes of motion allows us to train more functionally. It enables us to train our body in movement patterns that mimic everyday life or perform sports specific movements, such as mimicking the swing of a baseball bat.
Unlike weight training, resistance bands provide continuous muscle tension. Additionally, the resistance will increase as you move through the range of motion. If we use a bicep curl, for example, the point of most resistance when using free-weights is at the mid-range of the movement. If we take that same example, the point of most resistance with a band is going to be at the top range of the movement. The resistance will progressively increase as you bring your knuckles up towards your shoulders. This ascending resistance requires a higher degree of stabilization which is needed to help prevent injury.
Training with resistance bands is easier on joints. When using weights, muscles accelerate at the beginning of the movement using momentum and decelerate at the end of the movement. As long as you are doing the exercises correctly, there is no danger to joints when weight training. However, it is easier for most people to perform exercises properly with resistance bands because they are not using momentum to move through the range of motion. For that reason, bands are often used in physical therapy to rebuild strength after injury.
Resistance bands are inexpensive and portable, and you can train your entire body with just the one piece of equipment. If you decide to purchase any resistance band, be sure to select one of good quality because, yes, they can break. They are easy to pack since they are small and lightweight. If you travel for work or don’t want to miss a workout during vacations, they won’t take up much space in your suitcase. No excuses!
Resistance band training can make an excellent addition to anyone’s workout routine. At the Plant City YMCA, we use resistance bands in our Active Older Adult classes. Various types of bands are used in circuit training and lower body classes to add an extra challenge, and our 30-minute LesMills CXWorx classes rely on resistance tubing to strengthen the core. Try one of these classes to have an experienced instructor guide you through the workout.
Angela Fulgieri is the Wellness Experience Director at the Plant City YMCA. Contact her at [email protected].