Resistance bands are often used to do similar exercises as free weights, and sometimes used in unique routines as well. Why choose a resistance band over free weights? It has many advantages for a great strength training workout — convenience, safety, adaptability and variety to name a few.
Instructions for using a resistance band
1. Place one end of the band under your foot, hold it, or otherwise secure it.
2. Hold on to the other end, choke up or down on the band depending on how much resistance you want.
3. Now pull. See how simple it is?
The specifics will depend on the exercise you’re doing, of course. For example, if you’re doing bicep curls, you’ll place one end of the resistance band underneath your foot, hold the other end of the band with your hand, place your elbow on your knee and curl your arm. Here are seven benefits of going with a resistance band:
Resistance bands are great if you’re traveling. If you don’t know whether your hotel will have a gym, it’s easy to pack a resistance band and do your workout right in your hotel room. They also take up less room in your house than free weights, so if you don’t have a room in your home that you use as a dedicated gym — which, of course, many of us don’t — resistance bands can be a good space-saving option.
It’s not impossible to injure yourself with a resistance band, and you should always be mindful of your physical safety during any kind of workout, but there are certainly fewer risks. For example, the risk of dropping weights and injuring yourself disappears when you switch to resistance bands. This is important if you’re working out on your own and don’t have a spotter.
As you build strength, it’s easy just to choke down on the resistance band to increase the difficulty of your workout. On the other hand, if you’re using free weights, you’ll need to buy heavier weights when you’re ready to progress. Aside from the financial expense, the weights will take up more room in your home. This may not be a significant issue if you’re someone who regularly works out at the gym, but if you prefer to exercise at home, this is a factor to consider.
Resistance bands are so simple, yet they can be used for a wide variety of exercises. You can work many different muscle groups, both upper body and lower body, using just a resistance band. So in addition to the convenience, resistance bands also offer a lot of variety. This is especially important for those who alternate arm and leg workouts on different days of the week.
5. Horizontal resistance
Because free weights depend on gravity to offer resistance, they can only be used to work your muscles when you move your arms or legs in a vertical motion. Imagine holding a weight and moving your arm from the right side of your body to the left — there won’t be any resistance. But bands can be used to offer resistance when moving arms and legs along a horizontal plane, which can help to work different muscle groups, and mimic movements you’d do in your day to day activities, or while playing particular sports.
6. Targeted training
Again, since bands rely on gravity, they can be used to change how you target specific muscle groups during a workout. For example, you can use a resistance band to more specifically target your hamstrings while doing squats. This is beneficial if you’re trying to build a particular muscle group, or if you have an injury and you’re trying to rest a specific part of your body.
7. Consistent tension
Imagine again doing a bicep curl. When you get to the top of your curl, gravity is pulling the weight toward your shoulder, which means your bicep is not being worked like it is at earlier points of the curl. With a resistance band, however, you continue working the target muscle group throughout the entire range of motion of a particular exercise.
Clearly, there are a number of benefits to using a resistance band. It can be an easy way to maintain a strength training routine, and it’s something you can do practically anywhere. That doesn’t mean that free weights are not a good option, though. There are benefits to each, and it’s important to take a range of factors into account when determining what kind of workout will be right for you. And of course, you can always switch it up — alternate free weights and resistance bands. It’s a good idea to add variety to your routine to stave off boredom and give you the motivation to keep going.
Have we missed any benefits for resistance bands? Let us know why you like to use them!
— Sarah Cooke