How to use resistance bands and maximize your workout results?
With so much fitness equipment readily available these days, choosing the right tool for your workout can be quite tricky. And even once you’ve taken that step to purchase said equipment, knowing the correct way to use it can be just as daunting as treading into a gym for the first time.
So, in this How-To mini-series, we’re going to be looking at some of our favourite equipment, whether it be items you can buy for your home workout or those gigantic, terrifying machines you don’t dare use at the gym, and we’re going to tell you exactly how to make the most out of them.
And to kick off the series, we’re, of course, going to be diving into the world of resistance bands!
Resistance bands are portable, affordable, and have an unlimited plethora of uses. They can make an exercise harder, or easier, depending on how you use them, and they’re perfect for adding to any workout, cardio, or strength.
So, what are resistance bands? I hear you asking.
Resistance bands are thick elastic bands that come in a variety of shapes, sizes, colours, resistance, and thicknesses.
Each brand will vary on their exacts, but generally speaking, the thicker the band, the more resistance there is. Also, often, the colour of the band is actually an indicator of the resistance. Our resistance bands follow this colour code:
Navy Blue – Beginner Level Resistance
Grey – Intermediate Level Resistance
Purple – Advanced Level Resistance
Pink – Athletic/Profession Level Resistance
Choosing and understanding what resistance band is right for you is pretty straight forward. Always start with the lowest resistance and work your way up. There’s no point overworking yourself, putting a strain on your body, or injuring yourself for the sake of getting that body you want quicker. And if you’re ever unsure, you can always ask a professional, they’re there to help, and they’ll always answer your questions.
The one thing to remember with resistance bands is their name is a bit of a misnomer. They do help with resistance, but they can also help with assistance. For example, using a resistance band in a glute bridge will make it harder, and the stronger the resistance, the harder the movement will be, the more the muscles will work. But, take a resistance band and use it for a pull-up, and you’ll make your life so much easier! And, the thicker the band, the easier it will be.
Don’t worry if you don’t, we’re about to go into it in more detail!
How to Use Resistance Bands Properly
Resistance bands are perfect for every single person, at every second level of their fitness journey. Just as you would with free weights, you scale up, starting low and increasing resistance (or decreasing assistance) as you progress.
Pick a band that feels like your challenging yourself just that little bit every time you do a new set of exercises. If you’re just starting out, start with the bands with the least resistance. If you can do a set of reps, say 15 of them, without feeling like you’re muscles are getting tired, then move up a resistance and try again. Keep working up until you find the perfect match, and when you start to feel that lag again, whether it be the next day or a few weeks down the track, move up a resistance level again.
If you can’t keep control of the resistance band at any point during your reps, it’s probably a sign that the resistance is too high, and you should drop down a level. Don’t feel disheartened if this is the case, this kind of thing takes time, and they don’t happen by cutting corners. If it’s too high, you could be putting yourself at risk of injury.
And when it comes to the type of band, you’ll want to ask yourself how and why you’re using it. Have a think about the exercise you want to perform, and how using a band might give you more of a challenge in it.
If you’re not sure, here’s a helpful little summary on the types of resistance bands.
There are 5 main types of resistance bands:
⦁ Tube Bands With Handles – these bands look like jump ropes made out of cylindrical rubber. Each end will have a handle made of plastic or nylon to ensure a secure grip during use. These are perfect for exercises like donkey kicks and bicep curls.
⦁ Large Loop Bands – these bands are probably the most diverse in their potential of all the bands. They are large, closed-loop bands made of rubber, and are typically quite long. They can be used for just about anything, including assistance of push-ups, and resistance of lunges, squats, lateral band walks, overhead presses, the list goes on!
⦁ Hip Resistance Bands – these are the small versions of the large loop bands, and like their mother counterpart, you can get pretty creative with their uses. Put them around your ankles during side leg raises, wrap them around your thighs when performing squats. The possibilities stretch (pun very much intended) as far as your imagination can.
⦁ Therapy Bands – the final type of band is more used for physical therapy, to increase mobility and strengthen weakened muscles, but they can be used for general fitness reasons too. They are like large loop bands, but they don’t form a loop.
The Benefits of Using Resistance Bands
Finally, we’d like to finish off this how-to with a few benefits these little beauties have in your workout.
⦁ Unlike free weights, resistance bands force you to work hard in both directions of movement. That is, eccentrically (when the muscle lengthens) and concentrically (when the muscle shortens). This means your muscles will be working for longer, and you’ll be burning more calories, and gaining more muscle mass.
⦁ With improved function and strength of muscles, metabolism is increased.
⦁ As we mentioned before, resistance bands have the dual function of resistance and assistance. Exercises can become easier when needed, especially in the beginning with the aid of a resistance band.
⦁ Resistance bands are small and compact, so you can take them anywhere, and use them anytime. Well, maybe not anytime, but you get the idea.
⦁ The colours are cute as hell, so even if you feel like a fool using them, at least you’ll be using them in style!