Resistance bands are a wonderful complement or alternative to free weights and other resistance routines. They have been around in one form or other since the early 20th century in therapeutic and fitness contexts. Bands come in a variety of flavors but can be broadly divided into two categories: flat bands and resistance tubes, each with its own subsets and accessories and specialty bands. Their popularity as fitness aides has been growing since the 1980’s and they are now found in gyms around world.
Bands are extremely versatile and this is probably one of the reasons why women like them so much: They can fit into or replace a wide variety of fitness routines from free weights to Pilates, yoga, circuit training, sports specific training and the list goes on. More importantly for women, however, unlike free-weights, bands are lightweight, easy to store or transport (especially without accessories) and you can work on your flexibility at the same time. They can even be used while pregnant. Another advantage is that bands tend to favor toning and strength and definition over bulk which many women prefer (although women don’t naturally bulk up like men). Even better news is that even high.-end bands are pretty cheap (single bands are customarily well under $20).
Bands are perceived as more gentle than heavy, hard-surfaced, metallic dumbbells; they are the “softer-side” of resistance training. This is no doubt why they have taken so long to gain wide acceptance among men, it is certainly not because they are inefficient, on the contrary they are a highly efficient and useful tool.
Resistance bands are a great way to get a quick full body workout just about anywhere and that is good news because it just isn’t always easy to get to the gym. Women, working women with children in particular, have pretty much no free time. So, if you are a woman, anything that will make it easier for you to get in shape is a Godsend! With bands, you can take half an hour and workout in your office, in your home, in your hotel room. You might even consider taking them on a road trip and using them when at rest stops along the way (a great way to loosen up and get the blood flowing during a long drive).
With bands as with free weights you have full range of motion, but unlike free weights you have continuous resistance that does not depend on gravity. This means that you have incredible freedom to move and change direction while maintaining resistance at all points. Like free weights that resistance varies depending on the point of extension.
You can stretch to warm up with or without the bands and then seamlessly switch to resistance exercises working on all large muscle groups: biceps, triceps, lats, chest, glutes, thighs, calves and bands are great for those essential core muscles. You can quickly and efficiently work on all of those problem areas that women tend to struggle with the most. With bands you can also add flexibility exercises. Then move on to cool down stretches.
Your exercise routine should be challenging but not so much so that you risk injury. Keep everything moving smoothly in a continuous fluid motion. No jarring, or twisting. As with free weights more reps at lower intensity will give you toning and definition. It is also easier on the joints, although properly used bands are easy on the joints anyway.
So go ahead pack your band or bands wherever you go and lose that flab on arms or legs and tighten that tummy. If you’re into sports like tennis, volleyball, golf, running, swimming you can do sports specific exercises and some of the better bands offer sports specific attachments and a variety of accessories to help you improve your performance (including Dura-Band and Bodylastics among many other well-known brands).
Just remember be safe, learn to use the bands from someone who knows your coach, trainer or sports health professional. Inspect your bands before using them to make sure they are in good shape and don’t skimp on quality, even the best bands are priced very reasonably, there really is no reason not to buy good quality. Once you’ve decided which type of band to buy: Flat or Tubular, wide or narrow etc. go out a buy good quality: chances are they will be safer, last longer and have better attachments and other accessories.