If you know anything about working out, you must have heard of resistance bands. These simple-looking, lightweight bands have grown in popularity because of the many benefits they offer. Also known as rehab bands or fitness bands, these originated in the early part of the 20th Century and are extensively used in physical therapy as well as general fitness.
Resistance bands are excellent for use by people new to exercising or someone who is recovering from a physical injury, as these are much safer options compared to other strength training equipment like dumbbells and weights.
Since these bands help in the gradual rebuilding of strength and flexibility, resistance band workouts are often recommended by health professionals for people with muscular injuries and even for cardiac rehab patients. Resistance exercises are also common among sports professionals as they enable a person to work on specific muscles.
What are the advantages of using resistance bands for exercise?
Fitness bands are considered a stellar training tool and preferred for professionals as well as beginners. These are some of the reasons why these bands are so popular:
- Versatility: Resistance band workouts bring a much-needed variety to workout regimens, and there are several kinds of exercises that can be performed using these bands. Whether you use them for building core strength, focusing on a particular muscle group, losing weight, or for general fitness, resistance bands eliminate boredom while exercising.
- Affordability: Compared to most other workout equipment, fitness bands are inexpensive options giving people the advantage of exercising without having to join a gym.
- Effectiveness: Although simple to use, resistance bands are effective in working your muscles while also improving coordination and balance.
- Excellent for all fitness levels: Resistance band workouts can be performed by people of all skill levels from amateurs to professional sportspersons. It also allows the user to adjust the amount of resistance during a workout.
- Portability: Since resistance bands are compact and can be easily folded and carried everywhere, fitness enthusiasts do not have to miss their regular workout even when they are traveling.
Types of Resistance Bands
Fitness bands can broadly be categorized into two types- resistance tubes and flat bands. While the flat-type rehab bands do not have handles and are simple rubber latex strips that look like a massive rubber band, tube-type ones are available with clips or handles, as figure-8 bands, and also ones with Velcro ankle cuffs.
Each type of rehab band has its specific use depending on which part of the body you want to work on, and taking the help of a fitness expert to help you pick the most suitable one is recommended.
Resistance bands also come in different levels of resistance to suit multiple fitness levels among users. These bands usually follow a color-coded system to indicate the thickness and resistance level, wherein usually lighter colors are beginner level, with the resistance level going up with darker colors. Here is how different colors mean different levels:
- Yellow/Orange – Usually categorized as light resistance, these resistance bands are about 0.5-2.5 mm thick, and are meant to be used by beginners. Since these bands are quite stretchy (offering about 3lbs of resistance), they are easy to work with and are great for working areas like the shins and shoulders.
- Red, green, and blue– Rehab bands of these colors typically offer medium to heavy resistance for users, and are best for working larger muscle groups like the chest, back, and legs. Resistance bands that fall in this category usually offer resistance of approximately 8-12lbs and are appropriate for people who are used to working out regularly and building muscle strength.
- Black – Black fitness bands are ones that offer the highest amount of resistance, which means these are the thickest and difficult to pull. Only experienced users are meant to use bands of this color as these can offer resistance of more than 20lbs.
The classification given above is only a typical one as different manufacturers may have specific color codes and resistance levels in their rehab bands. Always check carefully before buying one to ensure that it suits your needs.
Benefits of Resistance Training
Resistance training is usually defined as a form of physical exercise that entails using some external resistance (like resistance bands) to contract your muscles. The American Sports Medicine Institute (ASMI) defines the goal of such training as “to gradually and progressively overload the musculoskeletal system so it gets stronger.”
Health and fitness experts consider resistance training to have many health benefits, a fact that has even been published in studies such as this one. So let’s take a quick look at some of the advantages of resistance band workouts:
- Such exercises can increase the metabolic rate in your body, which is vital to maintain a healthy body weight.
- Resistance exercises improve mobility and balance, and give users a better posture.
- Regular resistance band workouts build strength and tone in the muscles. This is particularly helpful for people who are aged over 30 as every decade after this age the human body loses about 5lbs of muscle.
- Such workouts are known to build bone density and make the bones stronger, which can even reduce the risk of developing diseases like osteoporosis for both men and women.
- Since resistance exercises work towards protecting your joints, you have a reduced chance of injury. Rehab bands are lightweight and low-impact training equipment, which helps rehabilitation from sports-related injuries without causing pain—this makes them excellent tools for active sports professionals.
- Resistance exercises have also been found to enhance a sense of general well-being by improving mood and boosting self-confidence.
- Resistance band workouts build stamina, which lets you do more every day without having to battle fatigue.
- Such exercises aid better sleep at night and can help people who are struggling with insomnia.
- Proper and regular exercises with resistance bands can even fight or reduce the risk of several chronic health conditions like arthritis, diabetes, obesity, and depression.
Tips to Maximize the Use of Resistance Bands
Now that you know the many uses, types, and benefits of rehab bands, you can buy a few for yourself and incorporate them into your workout routine. Keeping the following tips in mind will help you get the best out of your resistance bands:
- If you are new to resistance band workouts, do not go all out at once and instead start slow. Like any other training equipment, fitness bands may take some getting used to, so talk to your health practitioner about the right kind of start for you and take time to build confidence and learn the proper techniques.
- Remember to breathe evenly during resistance exercises. Do not hold your breath. It is always a smart decision to understand the technique from an expert and then try it.
- Choose a fitness band that lets you perform 2-3 complete sets of 10-15 repetitions with mild tiredness setting in only during the last set. Do not move onto a band with greater resistance before you can complete such sets comfortably.
- Check the band before use for any damages on the latex to avoid mishaps. In addition, remember to check twice when you fasten a resistance band onto a door or other objects for certain resistance exercises.
Resistance bands serve multiple purposes and can be used by people of different fitness levels. However, choose one according to your comfort level rather than competing with anyone and listen to your body in case of any pain. You are not Ivan Drago!