JOIN THE RESISTANCE
The simple elastic band is making a comeback with top PTs – find out why
There’s no doubt that the workout world is becoming increasingly high tech. According to data from Compare Cover (comparecover. com), a whopping 27 percent of British Adults now owns a fitness tracker of some kind, and cutting-edge technology such as smart devices, on-demand classes and personal- coaching apps are being used to motivate everyday exercisers. But, while fitness fans spend small fortunes on the latest exercise electronics, a humble workout tool is coming to the fore as one of the most popular ways to work up a sweat – the resistance band.
Everyone’s using it – athletes, celebrity trainers and fitness influencers. Not since its heyday in the 1980s has the resistance band been so popular. The stretchy band is incredibly handy – you can slip it over ankles, thighs and wrists to work common trouble zones such as the butt and upper arms. It’s a great warm-up tool, often used to activate chosen muscle groups before a workout. What’s more, the resistance bandis cheap (Amazon sells them for as little as£2.49) and portable. Autumn Calabrese, creator of the 21 Day Fix fitness programme (beachbodyondemand.com), uses resistance bands in her workouts. ‘Resistance bands are making a comeback because they’re a great way to isolate different muscles,’ she says. ‘They’re so very versatile and easy to travel with, so you can take them anywhere and still get a good workout.’ What’s not to love?
Resistance Band Exercises and Workouts Photo Gallery
The question is: does the science stack up? Can you really reap results without weights machines? Bands may not look as intimidating as a loaded barbell, but research shows that fitness fans can get just as strong using resistance bands as they can when using more bulky equipment. One study from Truman State University in America, for example, reports that participants who added resistance- banded bench presses to their training programme had a greater increase in bench-press strength than those who relied on just free-weight training. And anecdotal evidence suggests that many feel a deep burn in the muscles when resistance band training, which experts put down to the fact that resistance increases as the band gets stretched.
The best bit is that these bands come in all shapes and sizes to suit a range of fitness levels and activities. Flat and thin bands boast different intensities (the thicker ones tend to offer a greater resistance) and are often used for exercises that need a bit more stretch, such as front raises or squat presses. Small looped bands are easy to carry around and handy for moves that require slipping a band around the legs, such as monster walks or banded glute bridges. Tubed bands often come with handles, making them great for curls and presses. And bungee-style bands make great pieces of power kit for broad jumps and on-the-spot runs, not to mention provide excellent tools for adding more resistance to press-ups, and aiding pull-ups. ‘Consider what your goal is,’ adds Calabrese. ‘If you want strength, use a heavier resistance band. If you want endurance, opt for a medium-to-light band that you can do lots of reps with. If you’re using the band around your legs, you might need a stronger band that won’t have any slack. But, if you need a full range of motion, lighten up.’ As with all exercise, remember form and technique is key.
Short on time? Grab a couple of bands (try a Powerband MINI and Powerband MAX) and do this full-body blast from letsbands.com
1. BANDED SQUAT
Strengthens the glutes, leg muscles and lower backPlace a small band above your knees and take a hip-to-shoulder-width stance. With your toes pointing forwards, get the band under tension by pushing your knees out. Put your weight on your heels and lower yourself into a squat position. Keep your back straight and your core tight. Come back up by squeezing your glutes and pushing yourself up through your heels.
2. FRONT RAISE
Strengthens the shoulder muscles Stand on a large band with one foot and an offset stance. Grab the band and have both arms straight down by your sides.Make sure the band’s slightly under tension. Extend your arms up to shoulder level, then lower them back down.Keep pulling your shoulders down and away from your ears.
3. OVERHEAD PRESS SINGLE-LEG RAISE
Strengthens the shoulder and leg muscles, while challenging the core Step on a large band and hold the other end. Find your balance on one leg and pull the other leg up towards your chest. Pull the band up to shoulder height and width. Engage your core and glute muscles. Press the band over your head until your arms are straight. Slowly lower back to the start.
4. BEAR MARCH
Improves core stability Place a small band around your wrists. Get on all fours with your knees lifted off the ground and bring the band under tension.Pull your shoulders down and away from your ears. Crawl forwards and backwards with opposing limbs moving at the same time. Keep the band under tension, your back straight and your hips as stable as possible without rotating to the sides. Keep Your knees off the ground the whole time.
5. SINGLE-LEG GLUTE BRIDGE
REPS: 10-12, EACH LEG
Activates and strengthens the glutes, hamstrings and calves Place a small band above your knees and lie on your back. Bend your knees and put your feet on the floor with your toes flexed. Put your arms down by your sides with your palms facing up. Lift your hips, then extend one leg out in front of you while keeping your hips in the same position. Keep your glutes tight and core braced, then bring your leg back in and swap sides.
6. CORE PLANK
Activates the core and leg muscles Start by placing a small band slightly below your knees. Get into a side plank position supported with one hand and the other arm reaching straight above you. Keep your hips high off the ground and your core braced. While maintaining a stable side-plank position, raise your top leg against the resistance of the band while keeping the leg straight.
BAND TOGETHER: For all your resistance band needs, try Let’s Bands (letsbands.com) which offers a great range of elastic-band training equipment and resistance-band exercise advice. We love the Power Set Max (£36.50; letsbands.com), which comes with three mini bands, one power band, a carry bag and a booklet full of moves. Amazing.
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