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You can make your exercise band workout better by increasing or decreasing the difficulty when needed. You can do this by your choice of band, your grip on the band, or your choice of exercise. Another way to make an exercise harder is to slow down. Exercise bands work your muscles in both contraction and lengthening. That means you should resist the motion and return the band slowly to its resting length. You can do your exercises rapidly, but this will give you more muscular endurance than strength.
Exercise bands give more resistance at the end of the movement when the band is stretched farthest. If you have anchored it at one end you can make the exercise harder by stepping back so the band starts in a more stretched position. If your resistance exercise band is so long it doesn't give you any tension at the beginning of a short-range movement, you can grasp it further from the end to start. So shorten it up, let it lengthen, or anchor it differently to get the resistance you want.
You can exercise your whole body with exercise bands, but they are especially good for some exercises. Do biceps curls by stepping on the far end of the band. For triceps overhead extensions, hold the band behind you with your free hand. For pec flies, place the band behind your back and grab it at both ends, or far enough in to create tension. Rows work well with bands. Loop the band over your feet or anchor it to a doorknob. Do a leg press one leg at a time, holding a heavy band in front of you with both hands while seated. For abs, tie the band to the back of a chair, bring the ends over your shoulders, hold and curl forward.
Chair exercise classes for seniors often use exercise bands for resistance training. Bands are versatile and easy to use, so there is no need for a lot of equipment. Participants can loop the resistance band around the chair back for some exercises. For others, they can sit or put their foot on the band to anchor it. A band can be adjusted to be shorter or longer to provide appropriate resistance. If it's not long enough for something like shoulder raises, it can be adjusted for one arm at a time.
You might think an elastic band is an elastic band, but there are different types. There are flat bands, where you just grab the end with your hand, and bands with handles. You might prefer flat bands for tucking in your suitcase, but the ones with handles are more comfortable. You may want to use a specialized exercise band for pilates workouts. Bands also come in different resistance levels, so choose according to your strength. It's a good idea to get more than one level, so you can use a lighter one for rotator cuff and something heavier for stronger muscles like chest or back.
Exercise bands are used for strength training. Sometimes called resistance bands, they just use a different kind of resistance. To increase strength, you have to work your muscles against resistance, but the resistance doesn't have to be "iron." Weight machines and free weights are one kind of resistance. With pushups and sit-ups, your body weight is the resistance. Exercise bands just offer a different mode of resistance.
There's no reason you can't figure out new ways to use your exercise bands. This is an extremely versatile piece of equipment, so it lends itself to innovation. Just remember your goals,and don't neglect any important body parts. Any time you change the angle of an exercise, you change the exercise. So there's no excuse to get bored with your resistance band workout.
If you want to work your pecs with exercise bands or tubing, bring the band around your back and hold the ends one in each hand. Now you can do pressing movements, as if you were doing a bench press but sitting, or flies. Adjust your grip on the band so you have enough resistance to cause fatigue in 8-12 repetitions.
Exercise bands are better for upper body than lower body workouts, unless you have special heavy duty bands. If you want to work your legs more you can add some dumbbell squats or lunges to your resistance band workout. You may want to have a piece of aerobic equipment and use exercise bands for strength training. Other light equipment also makes a good complement. Travel with your resistance bands and a jump rope and you can get a full workout.
|Jennifer Mathes, Ph.D.|