A bit about resistance bands
I’ve become a big fan of resistance tube/bands/straps/rings, and all of those other rubbery, stretchy items that are available as an alternative to weight for strength and resistance training. I bought myself a small set of resistance bands a couple of years ago, and for me the biggest plus has been that they are very strong, light, can be packed into the tiniest space, and this makes them extremely portable, so that I can take them literally anywhere. Whether you’re on a long distance trip and need to squeeze in a late workout after the hotel gym has closed, or simply out away for a weekend and you don’t want to miss your scheduled workout, resistance bands are the ultimate in ultra compact and portable fitness equipment.
One of the things I like about resistance bands is that they are easy to use anywhere. If you have a door, a pole, a fence or a park bench nearby, you can easily secure your bands to a fixed point, or you can simply use the bands detached and use your feet, knees, arms or some other creative positioning to use the resistance material to get a good workout.
Something else that I like about resistance bands is that they can literally replace an entire set of dumbells, because they offer varying levels of resistance. The more you stretch the band, the more resistance it gives you. If you have the bands which can be clipped to handles you can increase resistance by adding more bands to your handles, and with any resistance material you can also double the resistance of any band simply by folding it in half if it is long enough. Literally any weight training exercise that you can think of can be done with a little creative thinking, positioning, and an appropriate resistance selection. If you don’t believe me, have a look at the following video:
Now before you think I’ve given them up entirely, I really do enjoy using free weights and I’ll often use dumbells and barbell in my workouts. I keep a small set of weights at home, however I’m a minimalist and I prefer to stick to bodyweight and light weight exercises, particularly while I am still rebuilding my fitness. I also like to set an example, and I don’t want to be the sort of trainer that tells his future clients that they need to spend hundreds to thousands of dollars on expensive fitness equipment that will work just as well as a $50 weight set or a $30 dollar resistance band set.
One of the criticisms I have against resistance bands is that they can feel a little awkward to use when attempting certain compound movements, because the handles and/or the bands themselves can get in the way of certain natural body movements. My only other problem with bands is that you need a lot of little extras to make them really useful, such as anchors for doors, poles/trees and other places you might like to fix them to. These are really only minor problems though which are far outweighed by the versatility of the bands themselves. So while I will continue to use my free weights, I will also be using resistance bands to mix things up a little and ensure variety in my workouts.
My workout for today
For today’s workout, a did 3 sets of the following using 30 second intervals with 10 second rests between exercises:
- Left Leg Reverse Lunge + Row
- Right Leg Reverse Lunge + Row
- Forward Lunge + Chest Fly
- Arm Curl + Shoulder Press
- Resistance Squat
- Left Side Plank + Reverse Fly
- Right Side Plank + Reverse Fly
- Split Stance Tricep Extensions
This workout is a slight variation of a workout which inspired me to write this article, and which I found accidently on Youtube today while looking for something else:
What I really enjoyed about this workout is that it really gave my core a good going over, as well as getting me to do more lunges and squats which I don’t think I use enough. I also particularly like that nearly all of the movements are either compound movements, or combination movements. By the end of the workout, my heart rate was nicely elevated, I had a good sweat and body heat, and I could really feel the effect of each of the movements on my muscles. My only complaint today was that my shoulders are still feeling a little sore from a workout a couple of days ago, and I found that I had overestimated the amount of resistance I needed to use with the Arm Curl + Shoulder Press, so I dropped the resistance and then dropped the shoulder press so that I would not risk damaging my shoulder, which had a rotator tear a few years back and which still gives me occasional trouble.
I always make sure to hydrate well after my workouts. today was no exception, and I drank about 600 ml shortly after my workout. I also did some light stretching and mobility exercises for about 10 minutes to make sure I don’t get too tightened up in the shoulders, knees and hip. I followed all of this up about 30 minutes later with a smoothie made from bananas, a couple of hard boiled eggs, a little salt, water, and a little honey and cocoa to give it a nice chocolatey flavour, and blended on high speed for about a minute. I had a good high protein meal a couple of hours later, which was a paleo pizza inspired by this recipe, and loaded up with good iron and amino acid rich meats and vegetables. Yum!
- Resistance bands, my new love! (runfreeforever.wordpress.com)