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    What are Resistance Bands and What Are Their Benefits?

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    Resistance bands are lightweight, portable, and cost-effective strength training tools that significantly enhance your strength training workouts. Adding resistance bands to your workout routine allows you to test out muscle-busting moves without feeling intimidated – it’s the best tool to use before trying out dumbbells or barbells to make gains. Plus, they are cute, colorful, and convenient equipment. In this article, learn the benefits of resistance bands and how they can improve your workouts. 

    What are Resistance Bands?

    Resistance bands are elastic bands that are typically used for strength training or physical therapy. They help tone the muscles and activate them, which helps build strength. Resistance bands offer a simple yet effective way to get an all-around strength workout at home, like kettlebells, dumbbells, or other free weights.

    Benefits of Resistance Bands

    You may wonder if resistance bands are worth it and if they can stand in for heavy-duty gym equipment. This simple yet versatile tool might have what you need to take your workout a notch. Here’s what you can get out of a resistance band:

    1. It can help tone and strengthen your muscles

    A woman using resistance bands while exercising in a living room

    Lifting heavy stuff builds muscle strength by providing resistance for the muscles to work against. Resistance bands can offer that benefit without needing heavy, expensive equipment. The more you stretch the band, the more intense the resistance gets and the harder the exercise becomes. You can also create more resistance by holding the band in a way that increases tension, like bringing your hands closer together while your arms move, for instance.

    2. It can help you keep your form while exercising.

    As we progress from an exercise and we start feeling the burn, it’s tempting to let your form fall to the wayside and let the level of effort decline. But with resistance bands acting as your accountability body, it can help you stop slacking off. If you are using free weights, it’s easier to just put them down when you already feel like quitting. However, bands naturally prevent you from cheating on the exercise because you’ll have to continue working against resistance when momentum would usually take over and finish the move for you.  

    3. It’s safe to use.

    An elderly woman using resistance band for physical therapy

    A reason why resistance bands are an excellent fitness option for older adults and people who were injured is they tend to be a safer alternative than traditional weights. Yes, you don’t need to worry about dropping a heavy weight on your foot, but that’s not just what makes it safe. Weight training can be very hard on the muscles, ligaments, and tendons, especially if you are starting out. With resistance band training, you will be in complete control the entire time, and you’ll not be worried about jerking weights since you will protect your tendons and ligaments by controlling your muscles the whole time.

    For instance, when you can no longer do another squat while using a heavy barbell, your muscles might give your before you have safely put down the weight. Enter painful injuries. But if your body can’t handle another squat on a resistance band, you need to slip out of it, and you’re good to go.

    4. It improves flexibility.

    Have you ever woken up feeling so stiff? If so, you can appreciate that having a flexible body is essential in how well your body feels and functions. Resistance bands can help with that, as they can help improve flexibility and range of motion. The tension in the bands may create space within the joints as you stretch, making them more flexible. It’s especially helpful with elderly folks because older people are more susceptible to accidents because of loss of flexibility, which can lead to a significant health decline.

    5. It’s great for stretching and warming up before a challenging workout.

    A woman using a resistance band while stretching

    Resistance bands can be your best friend for helping you stretch as you’ve never stretched before. If you have ever experienced pain in your neck, back, glutes, and hamstrings, resistance bands can be used to provide body pain relief through stretching moves.

    For example, if your hamstrings are feeling extra tight, you can loop a band around your foot rather than trying to grab your heel (and fail to do so) with your hand. And if you can’t reach for your foot behind you for a quad stretch, you can wrap the band around the top of your foot and pull it up towards your glutes. If you need a great upper back stretch, sit on the floor with extended legs and loop the band around your feet, then grab the sides of the band at shoulder width and curl your back away from the feet.

    6. It can help you modify or vary the intensity of your routine.

    A man using resistance bands for pull-ups

    Just because resistance bands are a lot cheaper than free weights don’t mean that they’ll give you an easy workout that you barely break a sweat. In fact, one of the key benefits of resistance bands is their ability to strengthen muscles by increasing the time they spend under tension. If you’re limited with the weights you have on hand, you can add a resistance band to increase the intensity when you need something heavier.

    On the other hand, if a workout is still too hard for you, you can also use a resistance band to help yourself. For example, if you can’t lift yourself up a pull-up bar, you can strap a long loop resistance band to the bar and step into it. It can help you get to the point where you can do a single rep on your own if you can’t do a full pull-up on your own. It’s not just great for adding resistance – it can also assist your progress in difficult exercises. 

    7. It can help you recover from injury better.

    Resistance bands are a staple recovery tool for those in rehabilitation from a muscle or sports-related injury. It’s great for physical therapy, along with proper treatment and medication. This is because the resistance bands don’t apply pressure the same way that weights do, which keeps your joints and everything else safe. Numerous studies also revealed that resistance bands are an effective intervention for pain and function – better compared to traditional physical therapy.

    8. It can enhance functional fitness training.

    A woman doing leg exercises on the floor using resistance bands

    Functional fitness means that your body has the flexibility, coordination, and strength to perform your daily activities. Resistance band training can help you build functional fitness better.

    A benefit of resistance bands is that they can be pushed and pulled in any way you want – unlike gym machines that limit your movement in one set plane of motion. It allows you to develop a degree of motor control and coordination as you use them, which is beneficial for functional fitness training.

    They offer more planes of resistance than free weights so that you can perform a wider variety of exercises with them. Free weights rely on gravity, so they only provide resistance in a vertical plane (the direction of gravity), while resistance bands don’t. They can offer resistance in more functional movement patterns that can be beneficial in performing everyday life tasks better, as well as sport-specific activities, like basketball passes and baseball swings.

    9. It can help protect your bones and joints.

    Resistance bands can help your bones get stronger in the same way they help strengthen the muscles. Generally, strength training can support your bones to build more cells and become denser to prevent conditions like back pain and osteoporosis. Since rubber bands offer extra resistance, they increase the effectiveness of strength exercises and start bone building. It can also help lower the impact of exercises, lessening the pressure on your joints.

    10. It supports physical fitness as you age.

    Resistance bands offer a lot of benefits for improving and maintaining the physical function of the aging population. When free weights are not a good option anymore, using resistance bands can be an alternative for older people.

    Regularly using a resistance band for working out can cause improvement in leg strength, flexibility, dilation of blood vessels, and reduced pain and fatigue. It can also offer bigger improvements in arm strength, grip strength, and gross motor skills. Resistance band training can also help older people avoid injury and improve their quality of life.

    11. It is super portable and affordable.

    If you want to travel while keeping yourself fit, resistance bands are the best option to train your target muscles anywhere. They take minimal space, are extremely lightweight, and can be easily stashed in your suitcase. Unlike traditional weights that need a space for storage, resistance bands are basically a pocket gym without letting you compromise on fitness benefits.

    Also, they are inexpensive and can cost anywhere between $5-10. Compared to average dumbbells that cost about $1.50 to $2.00 per pound of weight, resistance bands are comparatively cheaper. It’s best to choose a variety pack so you can have varying resistances to choose from.

     

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