For many years, the resistance band has been the red-headed stepchild of exercise equipment. In the last couple of years, however, many serious exercisers, and many professional fitness trainers, have come to recognize the potential benefits of doing exercises with resistance bands.
Of course, like so many things, the first resistance bands on the market were novelties, and, more often than not, crudely made, not very adaptable to various exercises, and subject to failure. As time has passed, the quality of these exercise bands has increased, and simple, but important, pieces of equipment have come along which have allowed the serious exerciser to perform a wide range of exercises with a set of resistance bands.
In fact, the manufacturers of Ripcord resistance bands say that you can perform over 100 exercises with their products.
I have used resistance bands only occasionally over the years, preferring to work out with free weights, all in one exercise machines, bodyweight exercises, yoga, and isometrics. Primarily, I would use a couple of bands when traveling or to "fill in" when I didn't want to set up the weights, bench, etc., or when I just wanted to knock out a few exercises and did not have other equipment handy.
However, in the last few months, I have put more time and enegy into performing exercises with resistance bands and I have been pleasantly surprised by the experience...and the results.
WHAT CAN YOU DO WITH RESISTANCE BANDS?
Well, you actually can closely duplicate almost any exercise you can do with free weights, all in one exercise machines, or bodyweight exercises.
You may have to use one of the different methods of attaching the exercise band to a door or door frane, but, with these attachments, you can anchor a band of a given resistance, or combine more than one band for greater effort. You can also anchor high, low, or in the middle, in order to attack a muscle or muscle group in a specific manner.
WHAT'S THE LIMIT WHEN DOING EXERCISES WITH RESISTANCE BANDS?
I guess the real limit is how much force your door, or door frame, can withstand. You can combine several bands to achieve different levels of resistance. My own set of bands can, theoretically, be combined to create 150 lbs of resistance, or 75 lbs per hand.
ARE THERE DIFFERENCES BETWEEN EXERCISES WITH OTHER METHODS AND EXERCISES WITH RESISTANCE BANDS?
Well, of course there are.
Think about it. While push ups and bench presses are similar, there's differences between doing push ups and doing bench presses. But, on the other hand, there's differences between doing bench presses on all in one machines or doing them with free weights.
If you do a "bench press" exercise with resistance bands, you will probably be standing, and you will use your core and leg muscles to help stabilize your body. This will be similar to a push up, but a bit different.
Each form of exercise with have its strengths and weaknesses, and resistance bands are no different. However, by combining different exercises, you can perform a full body strength, or cardio, workout pretty effectively.
Will you be able to train for a bodybuilding competition using only resistance bands?
Probably not, but, if what you are seeking is a way to perform a wide range of highly effective funtional exercises with a minimum of equipment and expense, then doing exercises with resistance bands may be the option for you.
WHAT ARE THE ADVANTAGES OF EXERCISES WITH RESISTANCE BANDS?
1. As exercise equipment goes, they are fairly inexpensive. For example, the Black Sniper edition 6-pack from Ripcord resistance bands, costs only $55 online as I write this. While that's a bit more expensive than a set of free weights, you are actually buying the equivalent of a home gym. If you were to get a set of free weights with an exercise bench, you would have to pay almost twice that much, and still not have the additional exercise options offered by this set.
2. They take up little space and are easily transportable. They can be stored in a small bag and packed in your luggage to go wherever you travel...even overseas. They also take up little space when in use. All you need is a door (optional for some exercises), and a few feet of floor space...about the same size as a yoga mat.
3. They are a flexible exercise alternative to other forms of exercise. As I have mentioned, when doing exercises with resistance bands, you can pretty much duplicate almost any other exercise, whether normally done with bodyweight, free weights, all in one exercise machines, or specific exercise machines, such as a leg press or leg extension machine.
4. Individual components, or the entire set, are easily replaceable. Even if you lose the entire set, you are out only a few bucks. If a piece wears out, or gets lost, you can easily find a replacement online or, probably, at Walmart.
YOU MIGHT WANT TO GO AHEAD AND BUY A SET, NOT JUST ONE PIECE
This is just a recommendation, of course, but, here's my thoughts. If you buy one good band...just to try it out...you will not get the full experience, but, you will have spent an amount roughly equivalent to one fourth of the entire cost of a set.
The set of resistance bands I mentioned earlier, for example, costs a little over $50, while a good quality band of one resistance level costs nearly $16 by itself. If you buy six individual cords, it would cost you at least $96. When you buy the Black Sniper edition 6-pack from Ripcords, you not only get six bands of different resistance levels, but, you get the door hook and carry bag as well.
While this is specific to that particular product from Ripcord resistance bands, I just checked prices at the Walmart website. They offer a slightly lower quality set for a little over $30, while the individual exercise cables cost about $8 each. Buying those cables separately would cost an extra $18 over the cost of the set, and, you would still have to buy the door anchor and carry bag.
While no single exercise or piece of exercise equipment can do everything, a good set of resistance bands can be just about as versatile and effective as a home gym, which can cost hundreds, or even thousands, of dollars.
If you want to compete professionally, you will have to use different types of equipment and do things that you cannot do with resistance bands. However, if you are someone who wants to get, or remain, physically fit, exercises with resistance bands may be the best option for you.
RELATED ARTICLE: Resistance Band Exercises
ABOUT THE AUTHOR:
Donovan Baldwin is a 69 year old bodybuilder, and freelance writer on fitness and health currently living in the Dallas - Fort Worth, Texas, area. He is retired from the U.S. Army after 21 years of service. He is a University of West Florida alumnus, with a BA in Accounting, 1973.
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