Wed | May 22, 2019

Fit 4 Life | Don’t resist the bands

Published:Thursday | April 11, 2019 | 7:22 PMMarvin Gordon/Contributor

Resistance bands might seem like just another 'glute exercise' fad among women but there might be some method to the madness. In fact, adding resistance bands to your training can provide huge benefits for men and women alike. From improving strength over a full range of motion to torching calories, there are numerous reasons to stop resisting the bands.

Before we explore the benefits, let us look at what resistance bands are.

They are bands of strong rubber designed to provide resistance for exercise without the size and weight of free-weights and machines. Resistance bands fall under a category of training equipment called variable-resistance technologies.

The main feature of this type of equipment is that the load or resistance changes during exercise. With resistance bands, the further you stretch them the higher load they offer.

Variable-resistance training provides a major advantage: towards to 'top' portion of most resistance-training exercises, the weight becomes easier to bear because leverage improves. Variable-resistance devices such as bands increase their resistance as they are moved, thereby keeping the muscles under tension. 

Take a bicep curl, for example. When using dumbells, it starts out hard at the bottom of the movement, but at the top, it feels easy. With resistance bands, on the other hand, the movement remains hard from start to finish as the band changes the load with movement. 

This results in:

• Greater strength at all points through the range of motion. 

• Greater muscle endurance.

• Greater active range of motion - improved flexibility.

• More calories burned.

There are other reasons to use bands.

Easy to use and store: A resistance band that offers up to 180 pounds of tension can be stored in a fraction of the space it would require to store four 45lb weight plates. And, you can use it anywhere for a variety of movements without any help. 

Costs less: Exercise equipment is not cheap, but, resistance bands allow you to work at high loads without the massive costs.

Versatile: Resistance bands are so much more than women's glute builders. They can be used on their own for a variety of exercises. Further, bands can be combined with other equipment for killer workouts.

Variety: Bands come in a range of shapes, sizes, and resistance levels. Whatever your goal, there is a band designed to help you achieve it. Pull-up bands, for example, are designed to make doing pull-ups easier by providing a boost with each rep.

BAND SAFETY

Be sure to choose bands of the highest quality. Bands do break and, as such, can pose a threat.

For safety:

• Don't place the band handles over feet. They can easily slip off and strike the user.

• Don't stretch bands more than two-and-a-half times their length.

• Begin movements slowly to ensure band strength.

• Don't release a resistance band while under tension.

• Bands should only be used in the exercises for which they were designed. 

• Avoid storing bands in hot areas or in direct sunlight.

- Marvin Gordon is a fitness coach; email: marvin.gordon@physiqueandfunction.com; yourhealth@gleanerjm.com