Exercises bands are sold under many brand names: Xertube, Therabands, and Ripcords are among some of the most popular. They come in three styles: resistance tubes, exercise loops, and resistance bands. These simple devices – they’re little more than big, colorful rubber bands, some with handles – can provide a full-body workout when other options are unavailable.
Originally, they gained a small following among traveling fitness buffs. Since it is easy to pack a set of resistance bands in a suitcase or overnight bag, they’re the equipment of choice for anyone who needs to keep in shape on the road. Recently, TV infomercials, workout videos, and popular comprehensive fitness programs like P90X have brought resistance bands to the attention of the mainstream public.
Different styles of exercise bands
Several types exist, each with advantages and disadvantages over the others:
Resistance tubes look like colorful lengths of oversized surgical tubing.
They feature a handle at each end and they’re usually around two feet in length while relaxed. Tubes offer different levels of resistance and they’re color-coded for easy identification. Exercise tubes have a reputation for lasting longer than bands, although they’re usually suited for different purposes.
Most weight-lifting movements can be replicated with exercise tubing, but the resistance profile is different.
Unlike tubes, resistance bands generally don’t have a permanently-attached handle. However, most brands come with separate handles that can be attached to the band. For exercises that require a set of handles, tubing is the better choice.
Bands are usually longer than tubes. And, the thin, flat rubber is perfect for wrapping around the bar of a dumbbell or barbell to add extra resistance to the top of a lift. This makes them useful during weight-lifting sessions. They’re also more comfortable than tubes when it comes to wrapping them around the feet or body in various ways (unless they pull out some body hair).
For example, some bench-press specialists use bands when they’re training the lock-out portion of the movement. Or, for people who need assistance during pull-ups, band-assisted pull-ups are as simple as gripping either end of the band while hanging from a pull-up bar, then putting a foot through the resulting loop.
These are similar to bands, except they’re circular, like giant rubber bands. Although they’re probably the least-versatile of the three main styles of resistance bands, some workout videos exist which specify their use. There is virtually nothing that can be done with exercise loops that can’t be done with the other styles of resistance bands.
Can exercise bands or resistance tubing replace weight lifting?
The short answer is: no.
However, they are a viable, short-term alternative for folks who don’t have access to their usual gym equipment, and for people with a shortage of storage space or a limited budget.
Heavy-duty exercise bands are surprisingly strong. Even the biggest men can use them to get a decent resistance workout. But because bands offer the most resistance when they’re fully stretched, they do not mimic the effects of gravity on a dumbbell. Consequently, they’re of less use during a squat, for instance, than they are during an overhead press.
In short, they can complement a weight-lifting workout, but they don’t replace it.
Advantages of working out with resistance bands
Exercise bands offer an alternative to dumbbells for folks who need a low-impact, high-rep workout.
Furthermore, they provide a way to get maximum resistance at full extension, without the deceleration that’s necessitated by a dumbbell. This is of inestimable value to athletes as diverse as baseball pitchers and boxers. Trainees can mimic the full-power throwing or punching motion while holding a band, without fear of the joint hyperextension that would occur if a dumbbell was providing the resistance.
Do they break?
Don’t worry about it.
Unless you touch them to something sharp while they’re at full stretch, you’ll be fine.
Over time, the latex bands may weaken, especially if you expose them to oil. But you’ll get plenty of warning when this occurs.
So you say you don’t have the room to set up a weight set and pump iron? Want a resistance band system with all the equipment and attachment options necessary to get a full-body workout? And want all the detailed information you need to build up your strength and muscular endurance on DVD and photo-filled booklet? Check out this resistance band system at Amazon (free shipping)
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