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Exercising with Elastic Fitness Bands (Resistance Bands) - The Lunch Hour Athlete

Training Log For: 12/07/09

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Posted by Matthew

Usually guys aspire to fitness goals like benching twice their body weight, curling small engine sized dumbbells or doing more push-ups than other guys. It's pretty safe to assume that out of all the routines and goals that guys make for themselves regarding fitness, incorporating and becoming proficient at using elastic fitness bands is not on the list. During my recent trips to a physical therapist for neck/shoulder problems I was told I had a weak back. My first reaction was shock and horror, but the Physical Therapist quickly ran me through some exercises to prove that specific muscles in my back/shoulders are in fact weak and contribute to my daily pain. I don't have easy access to free weights but I did have an elastic band lying around.

After finding some creative ways to attach the elastic band to a closet door handle I proceeded to perform several exercises the PT recommended:

Part of the male aversion to resistance band exercises is undoubtedly due to the prevalence of imagery where women are performing the exercises. It sounds sexist I know, but when was the last time you saw a woman benching 400+ pounds in a men's fitness magazine. Below I will explain why elastic fitness bands (resistance bands) can provide a valuable addition to your normal resistance training.

The typical free weight uses gravity as the only source of resistance. As a result, there are certain points in the exercise where the gravitational pull against the weight stresses the muscle less than at other points. To illustrate this point perform a standing bicep curl. The greatest resistance using a free-weight is when the arm is bent at 90 degrees with the forearm parallel to the floor. At the peak of the bicep curl, the resistance on the bicep is less.

When you use a weight machine with cables or a resistance band, the resistance on the muscle is more constant across the entire range of motion. The resistance is coming from a constant tension on a band or cable and is not related to the position of the weight relative to the angle of a particular body part. The other benefits of resistance band training include portability and versatility. You can easily take several bands of different resistance on vacations and trips, and these bands can be used to perform multiple exercises on almost every muscle group. Give it a try, with honest effort you'll immediately see the benefit of including resistance band training in your fitness routine.