How many of yall use resistance bands? I’ll admit, I was skeptical about them for a long while. Since I’ve always been a pushups/pullups/squats/heavy-lifting type of broad, I saw resistance bands as something that would only be helpful for people who are new at working out and needed to ease into it. A few months ago, when I was getting burned out and needed to switch up my training (and no longer had a free gym membership), I gave it a go…what do you know, resistance bands ended up being an even better workout than I’d expected.
People often taut the virtues of resistance bands for their portability (such as when traveling), price, and versatility. That may all be true, but resistance bands have another unique advantage for your training – they maintain the resistance throughout the full range of motion of an exercise. Whereas gravity will make the eccentric (basically, the lowering) part of the movement easier with a dumbbell/barbell, a resistance band will maintain even resistance throughout the movement. You can also incorporate resistance bands with your weight training to increase difficulty and change up the resistance through the path of motion, such as with a banded bench press or banded deadlift.
The other great thing about resistance bands is how they can be used for rehabilitation exercises. I recently tweaked my rotator cuff (while doing yoga, of all things…), and I spent a couple weeks using resistance bands to give my shoulder a break from the heavy stress and help strengthen those small muscles in the shoulder girdle. Not only are resistance bands suitable for a wide range of rehabilitative exercises, but they remove some of the risks that are inherent to training with an injury. You can’t drop a resistance band on your face when doing a chest press, you know? On the flip side, resistance bands can adjust the difficulty of certain bodyweight exercises, such as pushups and pull-ups. For example, banded pull-ups are one way that you can work into doing full pull-ups. If you’re looking to make pushups more challenging, you can incorporate a resistance band (don’t forget that you can change the fixed point, which in this case is your feet, to change the difficulty, as well).
Resistance bands are also great for targeting accessory muscles. I already mentioned using them to strengthen your rotator cuff, but banded squats and lateral band walks are great exercises to strengthen the muscles around your knees and hips. Incorporating resistance bands into these movements forces your muscles to engage in order to keep your knees from collapsing inward, which can be a big problem with the form/movement pattern of many exercises. This can be a great way to help with your squat form, and the strengthened muscles will provide additional protection for your joints.
All that being said, resistance bands obviously are not a replacement for free weights or bodyweight exercises. However, they can be a great complement to your usual training program. They can also be a refreshing change of pace when you have “lost your mojo” with the weights. Sometimes you need to push through those mental blocks to get your mojo back, and other times, it takes a temporary change of pace and/or a little extra rest to shake off that funk. There’s no shame in turning on some How I Met Your Mother reruns, grabbing your resistance bands, and going to town. Once in awhile, it may be just what the
doctor trainer ordered.
If you’re in the market for a resistance band or even a whole set, SPRI makes some great ones with handles. Check them out HERE. If you are looking for resistance bands without handles (such as the green “loop” style bands pictured above), check out THESE!