Resistance Bands: Convenient Option for Exercise

by Claudean Boatman

by Danielle Dolin

“Resistance bands are versatile pieces of exercise equipment that are easy to use and have many benefits” said Maranda McMaster, BS, ACSM-CPT. “Resistance bands are generally a good option for most individuals, whether they want to complete a full resistance band workout, or just integrate a few moves into their regular routine,” she said.

Resistance, or exercise, bands are also a good option for those who work from home and may not have access to a gym, said Jonathan Ordonez, CPT. “They can take little break and use a resistance band to have a mini at-home workout,” he said.

Different bands have specific functions. Therapy bands are good for injury recovery. They have a flat surface and no handles on the ends. Physical therapists use these.

Tube bands are hollow and have handles. “They are mostly used for training the upper body. You can do … chest press, back rows, curls, shoulder press, and other exercises. They can help increase range of motion and muscle endurance,” said Ordonez.

Mini bands are flat loops of about 10-12 inches and are used to train the lower body. Ordonez uses mini bands to build stability and activate core, glutes, and the hip complex.

Bands are color-coded by thickness indicating resistance level. “They work effectively through linear variable tension, meaning that the further a band is stretched, the more resistance an individual will feel. As you return to the starting position, the resistance lessens, and the movement becomes easier,” McMaster said. Generally, one should begin with the lightest resistance and work up to the harder bands as one gets stronger, she said.

Correct use of resistance bands increases strength, flexibility, endurance, and stabilization, Ordonez said. They can be used by beginners and advanced weightlifters alike. Ordonez believes those who need to work on stabilization and core activation can especially benefit. Maintaining good form and remaining stable requires core activation. Watching yourself perform the exercise in a mirror may help with form.

Other benefits include cost and storage. They can be found in many stores and online,” said McMaster. “They are lightweight and easy to store in small spaces. This also makes them a great travel option. They are easy to use in any setting that offers you a little open space!” Sets with attachments—anchors, ankle straps, and door hooks— allow you to work all muscle groups.

The downside to bands is their durability. Over time, the band will start to show signs of wear. It’s good practice to check your resistance bands prior to each use for cracks or tears. To avoid injury, you will want to replace old bands when you start to see a few of these small cracks or tears,” McMasters said. Fully secure anchors. Make sure door anchors are properly locked. If standing on the band, make sure it is positioned so it does not slip from under the feet.

There are many online sources for band exercises. Choose sites that are reliable, offer modifications, and appropriate safety instruction.

Claudean Boatman lives in Northern Colorado where she enjoys walking her dogs, doing step workouts, and exercising under the direction of her Cancer Exercise Specialist.

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