Sculpting a better body is serious business for many exercise devotees. In the past, this was most often accomplished by hitting the gym, sweating it out with the machines and then finishing up with some cardio on the treadmill, bike or elliptical. Well, there is another tool that can sculpt your body, minimize stress on your joints, provide cardio conditioning and much more. More typically found in physical therapy studios, resistance bands are gaining momentum as a viable alternative to free weights and machines. These bands work the whole body. The bands sculpt, tone, strengthen, elongate muscles and increase cardio health, all in your own home - no gym needed.
Research comparing the effectiveness of resistance bands with weight machines showed that actual results are very similar. In a study conducted at the University of Valencia in Valencia, researchers demonstrated that in fact these bands offer a viable alternative to weight training, and provide results comparable to using machines and free weights.
Instruction manuals demonstrating hundreds of resistance band training exercises are prolific on the web. It is important to note that proper form is essential when using resistance bands. The bands must also be secured properly so they stay in place during the exercise. Jerky movements can hurt rather than help so it is vital that you use correct form when doing resistance band exercises.
Resistance training is counted in the same manner as free weights. If you are a beginner, start with a yellow or tan band and do 1 set of 10-15 reps for each exercise. Then progress to 2 sets of 10-15. When you can easily do 2 or 3 sets of 10-15 reps, it is time to move to the next level of resistance band training. In addition, if you move directly from one exercise to the next without resting, the circuit training raises your heart rate sufficiently so that you are doing cardio while doing the resistance training. The bands increase in resistance from 5 to more than 50 pounds as you progress. Higher levels of resistance are available at sporting goods stores. Be sure to work up to the higher level so you can maintain proper form.
Resistance bands have come so far, so fast, precisely because they can emulate the results of weights, but are so much easier and more convenient to use. The bands have also proven themselves in the realm of rehabilitation.
In fact, the resistance bands do so well that one study found “ comparable high levels of muscle activation were obtained during resistance exercises with dumbbells and elastic tubing, indicating that therapists can choose either type in clinical practice.”
Finally, although it has long been known that resistance bands are effective for smaller muscles in the arm, shoulder or knee, more recent research conducted in 2014 is proving that the bands can also sculpt larger muscles groups in the body. The research, which focused on the effects of resistance bands on large muscle groups was conducted in 2014. That study proved that resistance bands can and will build stronger muscles, making this type of exercise effective for knee, hip and back strengthening and stabilization.
As noted, resistance bands come in various colors that denote the level of force of the band and indicate for the user which particular band is best to start a resistance training program based on the participant’s fitness level. Just check the packaging and instructions to learn which color is the beginning resistance band if you are new to this type of training or a beginner to exercise.
Resistance band sets can easily be purchased either online or at pretty much any store with a fitness section. So go get your gym in a box and get to work sculpting a brand new body with resistance bands.
Ramona Fortanbary is a Northern Virginia-based freelance writer and editor. Ramona has served as a writer in many industries. She has been a newspaper editor, corporate communications manager and public affairs specialist and senior writer-editor for the U.S. government. Ramona has studied at Chapman and Harvard universities. Her interests include fitness, reading, traveling and volunteer work. Ramona currently serves on the board of Heart Marks Art Therapy, a 501(c)(3) organization offering free art therapy sessions to at risk segments of our society.
Main Photo Credit: Lolostock/shutterstock.com; Second Photo Credit: Pornsngar Potibut/shutterstock.com; Third Photo Credit: Stuart Jenner/shutterstock.com; Fourth Photo Credit: Mark Herreid/shutterstock.com