Hello & Happy Fitness Friday!!
This week, I wanted to share with you this great new thing I've been adding into my workouts: Resistance Bands. They are a great alternative, or addition, to any strength-training routine. I personally use them on days I'm just not up for driving to the gym. Resistance bands are made of strong rubber with handles on each end, and come in a wide variety of sizes, lengths, and resistances to accommodate your strength-level and exercise needs. These are very inexpensive, ranging anywhere from $10-$30 depending on what you're looking for and how many you buy. Amazon has a great selection but if you're not sure where you're at strength-wise and don't want to make the investment without being 100% sure, then there are plenty of stores that sell them!!
Before you purchase, I have a few things I advise you to consider. It is important that you know your current fitness level. I would recommend that you purchase a band that is suitable to that level, and work your way up as you build strength. If you start at too difficult of a level, it will be easier for you to become discouraged and lose motivation very quickly. And if you have too easy of a level you could easily find yourself becoming bored with the lack of a challenge. So, it is key to get a resistance band that is just right.
Most often you will find that the bands are color-coded to their resistance level. There are some brands that do stray from this general guideline, but at least this list can get you started with an idea in mind for what resistance-level you might go with.
Yellow- these are very light resistance that are only equal to a few pounds of weight and used primarily for rehabilitation after injury.
Red or Green- light to medium resistance but some companies use green for heavy resistance to make sure you read the label!! These are good for beginning exercisers or those who are interested in increasing their muscular endurance by doing high repetitions with a lighter weight.
Dark Blue or Green- heavy resistance for advanced exercisers and work larger muscle groups.
Black, Blue, Purple- extra-heavy resistance, which can sometimes be broken down by certain companies into extra-heavy, super-heavy, and ultra-heavy. And these are for very advanced exercisers.
Aside from a variation in colors/resistances, there are also an abbundance of styles that offer multipurpose use:
Therapy Band- No handles and are used for rehabilitation and stretching
Compact Resistance Band- Most common and most versatile; plastic handles attached at the end of a rubber hose. Used for both upper and lower body exercises
Fit Loop Band- Continuous flat loop, used for lower body exercises
Figure 8 Band- Short bands in the shape of an 8 with two handles that are used for upper body exercises
Ring Resistance Band- Circular band with two soft handles that work lower body
Lateral Resistance Band- Velcro ankle cuffs connected to the band and are used for lower body workouts
My tip to you: pick a variety of resistances and styles in order to make a well rounded routine!
Choosing two different resistance levels, ideally your current level and the next level up, allows you to work various muscles to various capacities, as well as make it easier to level-up once you're fully ready!
At this point, you might be wondering "How can I benefit from this?" Aside from the cost-effectiveness, adaptability for multiple fitness levels, AND effective whole-body workouts, there are a number of benefits that you get from resistance bands that you don't get from free weights!
Range of Motion- You have a greater ability to work your muscles in more than just a vertical plane. Because free weights rely on gravity, it isn't as easy to do. So with the resistance band you can do exercises on a horizontal plane as well as vertical! By doing this, you can put emphasis on muscles that you might not be able to work if you are using free weights.
Reduced Risk to Injury- If you are not trained and are not using proper form, it can be easy to injure your muscles when you're working strictly against free gravity.
Builds Better Form- When you aren't working against gravity, you are actually mimicking natural body movements. Free weights, especially those that are too heavy, can cause you to use other muscles that are not the target of the exercise to aid in lifting the weight. This essentially defeats the purpose of the exercise because you aren't working the target muscle(s) as heavily and efficiently as you are looking for!
As I had mentioned, these are a great addition to your workouts for the convenience and versatility. You won't regret this inexpensive purchase!!
Have a happy and healthy weekend!
Fitness Friday Guru + NHHN Intern