Resistance Bands: Pros and Con
When COVID-19 made going to the gym impossible in many countries, most of us had no choice but to turn to home workouts. A lack of heavy exercise machinery meant that we needed to use what was available to us to replicate the same stimulus on our muscles that we would normally get at a gym. Although resistance bands have been around for a long time now, and are even the preferred method of training for some, their popularity and use increased over the last couple of months as we were faced with the closure of gyms.
Now that gyms are opening up in some countries, should we abandon our resistance bands altogether in favour of heavier equipment and free weights, or have the benefits of these bands won us over? We list the pros and cons of resistance bands and when is best to use them.
If muscle growth is your objective, resistance bands can be a great way to exercise, but there’s a limit to how much resistance they can offer. Free weights, on the other hand, can be increased gradually and are usually a better method to reach muscle hypertrophy.
Following this first point, it is noteworthy that resistance bands make it harder to monitor progress. Whilst free weights allow you to measure how much weight you are lifting and track gradual weight increase, with bands the progress is harder to quantify as the particular weight or resistance you are lifting is not always clear.
Compact and Cost-Effective
One of the main reasons why many people turned to resistance bands whilst gyms were closed is precisely because you don’t need a gym to use them. Bands are inexpensive, lightweight, and easy to take with you, whether you are travelling, fancy an outdoor workout, or even if training in between meetings.
Resistance bands are not just flexible in the sense that they can stretch, but they are also very versatile. You can exercise almost any part of your body to a certain extent by using the bands. Whether you are training your quads or your triceps, you can probably find an exercise to try out incorporating resistance bands.
Especially when it comes to beginners, bands may be less daunting than using heavy equipment or free weights. They remove certain anxieties when using weights as well as the risk of dropping heavy weights on your foot. However, make sure you purchase resistance bands made from strong materials to ensure that they won’t snap.
Whilst resistance bands do offer resistance as their name suggests, unlike with free weights, the resistance may not be equal for the full range of the exercise. The resistance gained from the bands may be higher at particular points of the exercise as the band is stretched closer to its limit, whilst as the band moves closer to its base point, resistance decreases.
Machines at a gym usually reduce the difficulty of performing an exercise as they help control your form. With free weights and resistance bands, this may not be so easy, so it is important to give particular attention to your form when working out using such equipment. Also, make sure to mark the centre of your bands to avoid muscle imbalances.
Stretching after a workout is a great way to help your muscles recover and improve muscle performance. Bands can help you perform certain stretches and help increase flexibility.
For any exercises that may seem too difficult at the moment, resistance bands can act as an aid to help you build resistance to accomplish that exercise on your own. Let’s say you cannot perform a pull-up on your own yet. Shifting some of your weight onto the band can help you perform the exercise until you can pull yourself up without any assistance.
Similarly, resistance bands offer extra resistance to certain exercises, which you can use together with other gym equipment. This is a great way to add resistance in between weights which are too light and too heavy for you.
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