Working out at home has never been more popular, especially in the past few years, and resistance-band exercises are in the forefront because of their affordability and portability.
They look like a big rubber band and are usually made from latex or rubber. They are looped around legs or arms, for example, to create more tension in a workout.
As we age, strength training helps to slow muscle deterioration, increase muscle mass and build strength. And all this is achieved by creating resistance, which is where resistance bands come into play.
When using a resistance band, it stretches and creates tension and oppositional force that your muscles must overcome — your muscles work harder, giving you a stronger, more defined body. A 2019 study found that using resistance bands in training delivers similar strength gains to using standard gym equipment.
As people age, resistance bands can help improve balance, flexibility and body composition.
A good set of bands can cost as little as $25 and can be used at home as well as thrown in a gym bag. Check ahead, your gym already may have them available.
But don’t just stay home, resistance-band exercises can be done at a park or beach and take up little real estate in a suitcase for hotel-room training. Loop them onto a bed frame, tree or sturdy gym equipment to instantly enhance your fitness routine.
There are five chief types of resistance bands. Choose a set with varying tension levels and type best suited for your workout needs.
Tube bands with handles look like jump ropes with handles attached to long rubber tubing. These are good for upper body work like bicep curls and shoulder presses.
Large loop bands are usually flat and thin at about 40 inches around and are good for banded pull-ups and power squats.
Mini bands are wide, thin bands that are the smallest of the bunch, used for over the knees and thighs for glute bridge workouts or single-arm rows when under your foot and pulled up.
Figure-eight bands form a number eight in shape and are great for upper-body workouts.
Therapy bands usually are made of the same material as large-loop bands, but are thinner and do not form a loop. They are great for shoulder rehab and physical therapy mobility help.
Bands usually get darker in color the greater the tension. A good rule of thumb is to start on the lighter color/lighter tension and move up from there. If you can get through 15 reps of an exercise easily without tiring, try moving up to the next level of tension to challenge yourself.
When starting out with resistance bands, it’s best to find a personal trainer, physical therapist or reputable resource to determine the right exercises, proper technique and which bands are best for you.
There are a great many resources online with videos outlining resistance-band exercises, so do your research and find out what works for your needs.
So go grab your bands, challenge yourself and make it snappy.