Resistance bands may not seem like much, but underestimate the danger those colored rubber strips can pose to you. They can make your muscles disappear completely while fitting conveniently into your bag or pocket for training on the go.
While they are popular in physical rehabilitation, they can offer so much more: they can be a really effective way to build strength, and can even work in cardio, working some muscles on their own that free weight machines can't.
Whether you use one or multiple bands, experienced fitness enthusiasts can use them to improve the effectiveness of workouts you're already familiar with, and they'll also have better control over those movements to ensure you feel the full benefits. If you're not familiar with resistance training, this is a way to get the feel of the workout without having to invest and find room for the heavy stuff.
While they may seem like a relatively simple purchase, there are a few things to consider before you pick up a resistance band.
The colors represent different levels of resistance. Color coding is not universal, so check before you choose which color you want to use. Levels range from light to extra heavy. Lighter bands tend to be better for muscle groups such as the shoulders, while heavier bands are better for the larger muscles of the legs, back and chest.
Resistance bands are pieces or tubes of elastic material, usually made of synthetic or natural latex rubber. Both materials have their advantages and disadvantages. If you are allergic to latex, then it goes without saying which one is the better choice. However, latex bands do tend to have greater elasticity and should serve you well.
There are several different types of resistance bands that you can purchase, some of which are better suited for focusing your training on specific areas of the body.
1. Tubular resistance bands include handles, often with attachments that allow you to attach them to a door or other piece of fitness equipment. This allows you to expand the range of upper and lower body workouts they can provide.
2. Flat resistance bands eliminate the need for handles and look more like large rubber bands. These are the type designed for rehabilitation, but are great for exercises like bench presses, as well as yoga and Pilates.
3. Mini resistance bands are great for lower body exercises, support lateral movements, and can be used during weight training.
4. Figure-eight bands also provide support and improved stability for workouts and focus on conditioning, providing the feeling of using gym equipment.
The length of the resistance bands is important as some are better suited for larger muscles and some for smaller muscles, for example a 50 cm resistance band is primarily used for upper body workouts while a longer one is used for full body exercises. Investing in several elastic bands with different resistance levels and lengths will give you the freedom to move between different muscle groups and will also increase resistance as you feel comfortable.
Bands can break if not used or stored properly. Do not expose natural latex bands to direct sunlight or other hot, dry environments as they will dry out, become brittle and shatter. Also, instead of wrapping the band around objects such as rods or handles, consider purchasing special resistance band anchors that will reduce the stress.
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