Resistance Bands: A pretty useful tool
All kinds of bands: ones with grips on the ends to big or small loops. They are great for stretching, rehab and warming up efficiently. They don't just add resistance but can add assistance as well. Pull ups for instance. You can use the super bands (full looped band) to help push you up if your pull up is a little weak. Most bands are also lightweight, inexpensive and easy to take on the go- so they are practical, safe, and effective.
Last week I had a curious client ask me about resistance band and why we used them as alternatives to cables and dumbbells. I don't typically use machines that have you on a fixed track. I prefer more open and fluid movements that we can load up to help translate outside of the gym- your every day type movement. Never during the day will you isolate one muscle. Every movement we go through recruits multiple muscle groups.
So why do I switch some movements to bands?
Outside of a giving the client some variety there are plenty of benefits to using bands. One of the main reasons I like using bands is that if the tension chosen is correct, you will have tension throughout an entire move concentric and eccentric contractions. Resistance bands deliver something called progressive resistance- meaning that it gets harder as the set continues by overloading the muscles in both directions. Many times when using free weights we forget to focus on both ends of the contraction. We use a lot of force to push or pull but can lose tension when releasing the contraction- bands allow you to slow movements down and focus on both aspects safely.
I like to use bands for beginners too. It's a great way to teach form and build strength. They allow an understanding of movements that could be tricky when thrown directly into weights. There's really no secret to why bands get used as an alternate for some movements. You could swing dumbbells or swing kettlebells- there's variety all around the gym and I believe that you should utilize that variety if you have it. I think its simply a safe alternative to hit muscle groups in a different yet effective way.
Bands are not better or worse than using weights, just a great alternative. Remember, resistance bands have been a staple in gyms and the rehabilitation field for ever. They don't cause as much pressure on joints like weights do. This allows everyone to utilize them- add more range to movements and develop at a safe pace.