Many people who lift weights will have the greatness of free-weights as the best mass builder. While free weights are excellent, the resistance bands can also have their place as well. In the past, some resistance bands have been given a bad name as they became seen as only for middle-aged women doing some aerobic workout with 5 pounds of resistance, which is not true. Many men incorporate resistance bands into their workouts especially when trying to regain strength in some regions of the body.
Some distinct differences in resistance bands can make them useful to anyone, especially those who will be away from any gym for a while.
There are many advantages to using resistance bands in your routines. The first and probably the most obvious advantage is how much easier they will fit into your luggage compared with free weights. There is also a mechanical advantage in resistance bands that resistance is maintained through every part of the motion while many similar free weight exercises are non-performing work during parts of the lift when movement isn’t against gravity at a large enough angle.
With your resistance band training, every part of both the concentric and eccentric part of the exercise has resistance, resulting in better range of motion strength and a complete stimulation. The downside to resistance bands is that you can’t perform near maximum lifts and the limitation of exercises (the latter of which I will try to help overcome).
Using Resistance Bands
When using resistance bands for your workout, the factor you should be thinking about is picking a band with a resistance appropriate to your strength and the exercise you are doing. When performing the exercise, the band should be secured in a way, so the length is appropriate to give resistance even at the bottom of the exercise.
1. Bench Press: For this you will need a bench of some sort with a leg you can lift. Secure the band under the leg nearest your head, lie down on the bench and press up like you would a barbell bench press.
2. Crossovers: Secure the band around a stationary post (a poll or something of the like), step back enough to begin tension. Stand to face away from the post with arms raised to sides, palms forward. Keeping your arms straight, bring them across your chest.
3. Curls: Stand on band with leg width appropriate so that tension will start with arms straight down. Holding handles palms up, curl as you would dumbbells.
4. Triceps Extensions: Stand on band with leg width set, so tension begins at the height of your hand with arms behind your back (over your head) and elbows flexed. Extend your arms as you would with Triceps extensions.
5. Skull-Crushers: Set up the band as you did with the bench press. Point your elbows forward and up, and perform skull-crushers as you would with a barbell.
1. Shoulder Press: Stand on band so that tension starts with hands by your shoulders. Hold handles palms forward with bottom part of the handle on the backside of your hand. Press upward as you would a dumbbell press.
2. Lateral Raises: Stand on the band, so tension begins with arms at sides. Keeping your arms straight, raise your arms out to your sides, so they are parallel with the floor.
3. Upright Rows: Stand on the band, so that tension begins with your arms at sides. Pull upwards as if you would with a barbell upright row.
1. Row: Fix your band, so it is around a stationary post or your feet. Then stand back, so that tension begins with your arms raised out in front of you. Keeping feet planted or by sitting, pull back as you would with a cable row.
2. Back Fly’s: Fix band around a stationary post. Stand back so that that tension will begin with your arms raised in front of you. Keeping your arms straight and feet planted, move your arms back, so they are extended by your sides.
1. Good Mornings: Stand on the band, so tension starts with hands clasped behind neck. Keeping legs straight or slightly bent, stand up straight, raising back as in a traditional good-morning.
1. Squats: Stand on the bands, so that tension begins with your hands by shoulders and in a squat position. Stand up and keep your hands by shoulders, performing like you would if it was a barbell squat.
1. Calf Raises: Stand on your band, so that the tension begins with your hands by your shoulders and by standing straight up. Make sure you’re standing on the band with your toes. Keeping hands by your shoulder, stand up on your toes as you would with a barbell calf raise.
1. Weighted Sit-ups: If you have a decline bench seat, you can fix the band around the base of the bench and perform the weighted decline sit-ups on the bench. Otherwise, adjust the band around a stationary post and lie on the floor facing away from the post. Holding your hands up by your head, perform the sit-ups or crunches.
Using the exercises from above, you can set up a workout routine the way you like. With the resistance band type based workouts, the best would most likely be three full-body workouts or a 2-day split with Day A on Monday and Thursday and Day B on Tuesday and Friday.
For example on Monday, Wednesday, and Friday
- 3 x 8 Bench Press
- 1 x 10 Cross-over
- 3 x 10 Rows
- 1 x 15 Back Flys
- 3 x 15 Squats
- 2 x 10 Curls
- 2 x 8 Skull-Crushers
- 2 x 10 Triceps Extensions
- 2 x 8 Shoulder Press
- 2 x 8 Lateral Raises
- 1 x 10 Upright Rows
- 3 x 8 Good-Mornings
- 3 x 10 Calf Raises
- 3 x 20 Weighted Crunches
Benefits and Worth of Resistance Bands
As with any exercise routine, the resistance bands will increase the strength of your muscles and stimulate growth in such muscles. The bands will also allow you to hit the full range of motion, also working many parts of a lift and muscle that isn’t often operated by the free weights. Free weight curls and triceps extensions aren’t working during the whole action.
This, in turn, will also increase your flexibility and your applicable strength and more muscle stimulation. So it becomes quite apparent that for anyone who really needs a way to work out on vacation but periodically can’t get to the gym, or wants something even extra to add to their workout, resistance bands are very worth it. And at such a low cost, there’s little reason not to invest in them.