Using Resistance Bands
By wlr Personal Trainer, Nicola Glanville PTI REPS L3
Resistant bands are an excellent piece of kit for strength training.
The general idea is that you secure the band around a fixed point, whether that be your feet, a table leg or other anchor point, and use it to resist your movement thereby making it harder. Much in the same way as using weight when exercising your muscles.
Resistance Bands, or tubes, can be used for a full body strength workout, exercising each of the main muscle groups.
It's easy to alter the intensity of the exercise by simply changing your position in relation to the origin of the band, for example:
- If you secure the band around a fixed point and are pulling on it to exercise your arms and back muscles, moving closer to the point will give the band more slack to make the exercise easier
- If you move away from the fixed point the band will become tighter and the exercise will be more challenging
- If you are using the band so that different parts of your body are pulling against each other, lengthening the band reduces resistance, shortening it increases resistance
Benefits of Resistance Bands
Resistance bands are great for beginners because you can start off at a very low level of resistance and build it up easily as you progress. That said, resistance bands provide a real, muscle building, strength workout - as good as weights at an equivalent level of resistance.
- Lighter than weights, very small, easy to put away and store
- Take them anywhere - they weigh less than your bikini
- Bands are very cheap compared to other exercise equipment. (We're not madly keen on this idea but, if they do end up unused at the back of a drawer when you can't be bothered, you won't have wasted a lot of money.)
- 1 band can provide varying levels of resistance depending on how you use it
- You get a more efficient workout because of the instability of a band - muscle fibres have to work a bit harder and in a wider range to keep your movement on track
How to Use Resistance Bands
Practice an exercise with the bands just under tension until you get the movement, then shorten the band length until you hit a level of resistance that feels quite hard for you. You're looking to get to the point where your muscles feel pretty exhausted by the time you've done 8-10 reps.
Keep a good posture:
- If you're standing keep your back straight, shoulders back, tummy pulled in and feet shoulder width apart unless the exercise instructions say otherwise.
- If you're on the floor, keep your core stable by tightening your abs and making sure your back doesn't arch or dip.
Keep knees soft and don't lock your elbows.
Breath! Your muscles need oxygen to perform effectively. Breath in before you do the resistance part of the exercise and out as you return to the the start position.
Use your bands 2-3 times a week to build muscle strength and tone. You can actually get a full body muscle workout in 10 minutes with bands.
- When an exercise involves using an anchor point, make sure that whatever you use is sturdy/heavy enough to stay in place throughout the movement
- If you're using a door, make sure it is closed and that it opens away from you - just in case someone opens it at the wrong moment.
- Never let a band take your full body weight. You don't want to be caught off balance if anything goes wrong with your band or anchor point
- Check your bands for nicks or worn out spots before you use them, replace them if damaged. Store them away from heat and sharp objects
- You can tie a single band into a loop, but don't be tempted to tie 2 bands together. The tension is different and the knot may not be strong enough
- Don't stretch your bands beyond 3 times their resting length
Resistance bands can be used in place of dumbbells or other types of free weights. Here's an example for a popular exercise normally performed using weights, the bicep curl.
Start position: Run the resistant band underneath your feet. Hold the ends of the band in each hand with your palms facing forwards. Alter the resistance so that there is some tension when your arms are relaxed by your sides. Ensure that your feet are hip distance apart and your knees are soft. Stand tall.
Movement: Keeping your elbows pinned into your sides, bend your arms, pulling the band, until your elbows are at right angles. Pause momentarily. Return to the start position.
Express Workout Using Resistance bands
This workout can be done in 10 minutes and provides a full body muscle workout with just 5 exercises:
You can track your exercise, with the Weight Loss Resources exercise diary and database. You can see how many calories you burn and how many you consume. Try it free for 24 hours.