Resistance Bands vs. Weights
July 12, 2012
By Rebecca Green, PFT
Exercise and strength training of some sort is an important component of any exercise program. Adding lean muscle can help to boost your overall metabolism, allowing your body to burn more energy at rest or in your case while you’re driving down the highway!
While there are many different ways to strength train, the use of resistance bands and free weights are among the oldest. As a matter of fact, Jack La Lanne, longtime exercise guru began using Elastic Exercise or Resistance Bands as an exercise tool back in the 50’s – so they’ve been around along time!!
Resistance training with the use of an elastic resistance band provides a consistent force throughout the entire range of motion and movement while using free weights such as dumbbells can result in varied changes during each movement. The reason resistance training works so well is that your muscle only knows resistance. It cannot identify the type of resistance.
Unlike free weights, resistance bands also provide the muscle with constant tension, which dumbbells or barbells can’t. This constant tension allows you to focus 100% on both parts of the motion, the concentric (such as the upward motion of a bicep curl) and the eccentric (the lowering or downward motion) part. The constant tension of the band can also make the exercise feel harder. And bands offer more variety because you can create resistance from all directions, the side, overhead and below – which mimics the use of cables.
Truly effective weight training stimulates the entire muscle, while using as many muscle fibers as possible. Your muscles have many fibers; as your muscles contract, you work the muscle fibers. The more you contract the muscle, the more muscle fibers you work.
The muscle being worked actually shortens during the concentric phase of the motion, and lengthens during the eccentric part. Users of free weights almost always completely neglect the eccentric phase of a particular motion and let the weights fall, which can result in injury.
With resistance bands, the constant tension helps you to achieve results in movement that is much more controlled than you’d get using free weights. As well, free weights can never give your body the same level of full-range motion and flexibility that resistance bands can. Indeed, no other form of exercise comes as close to emulating the natural movements your body performs in real life as resistance bands.
If you’ve trained with free weights in the past, then you might be familiar with the pressure they place on your joints while doing an exercise such as a bench press or shoulder press. The use of resistance bands can help to eliminate that uncomfortable feeling and allow you to work the muscle more directly while improving your range of motion and overall flexibility.
Resistance bands come in a variety of tensions. The color usually denotes the tension of the band, light colors indicate light tension and dark colors indicate heavy tension. There are resistance bands on the market with handles, without handles, with Velcro, and enclosed circles to fit around the ankles.
I like the Heavy Handle Gym Kit. It has everything you need to work every part of your body, including your legs, and the 3-pound handles can be used individually as well as with one of the clip on bands. The heavy handles increase the overall resistance of the exercise making it the best of both (bands & weights) combined.
Resistance bands are a great option for consistent and frequent workouts on the road. They’re easy to pack, easy to use and take up very little space. And they can be used at home as well. The Heavy Handle Gym Kit comes with four individual bands that offer a variety of tensions, a door and rail attachment so you can move it around to mimic your cable moves and an ankle cuff so we don’t forget about those legs! It can provide an excellent workout for the beginner or the heavy lifter.
So get busy and get moving. Remember to always work within your limits, if you become short of breath stop and let your heart rate return too normal. Not only will you improve your overall Total Lean Body Mass you’ll gain a more Efficient Metabolism. A more efficient Metabolism will allow your body to burn more stored energy or fat resulting in weight loss!
If you have questions, are interested in a more personalized nutrition or exercise program or would like to purchase the Heavy Handle Gym Kit give us a call at 888-FIT-ROAD. If you’re a Facebook user, “LIKE” us on our Fitness Road page. The Heavy Handle Gym Kit is available on our website.
Next month, we will continue to add variations of all the exercises so we can expand upon the basics. Until then, get up and get busy. Together, let’s create the habit for a healthier tomorrow.Rebecca Green, PFT Fitness Road 888-FIT-ROAD (348-7623) www.fitnessroad.com