Are Resistance Bands the Best Way to Tone Your Body?

Portable, versatile resistance bands make it possible to work out virtually anywhere.

Portable, versatile resistance bands make it possible to work out virtually anywhere.

If you don’t want to wait to use weight machines at a gym, using portable resistance bands is one of the best ways to tone and firm muscles virtually any place, any time you want to exercise. Versatile resistance bands can be used to perform many different exercises that are compatible with your fitness level. Bands also provide an effective way to build functional strength, facilitating the ease of daily activities, according to exercise physiologist Jim Stoppani.

Resistance Band Benefits

If you don’t have a flexible schedule, resistance bands give you the flexibility to work out where and when it's convenient for you, and still be able to increase muscle strength and decrease body fat in a manner similar to free-weight training programs, according to a University of Kansas study published in the "Journal of Applied Sport Science Research" in 1990. The bands provide various levels of resistance and range of motion when stretched, enabling you to perform full-body exercises in a multitude of different directions. Because your body has to stabilize against the force of the resistance, the bands can efficiently recruit muscle groups and help build core strength. The American College of Sports Medicine also recommends using resistance bands to help increase coordination, improve balance and create exercise variety.

Choosing Resistance Bands

Your favorite band could be one with handles attached, or there are also bands without handles that come in loops or strips, requiring you to wrap the ends around your hands for use. The band best for you depends on the exercises you want to do, how challenging you want the resistance level to be, and if you want bands with attachments such as ankle cuffs and door anchors. Resistance bands are usually color coded to distinguish between lower and higher resistance levels. Keep in mind that not every body part will require the same amount of resistance. For example, you may want to use a lighter resistance to perform triceps extensions and a stronger resistance for back rows.

Resistance Band Exercises

Multitasking resistance bands make it possible to perform upper-body and lower-body exercises recommended by the American Council on Exercise including seated rows for the back; bench presses for chest; military presses for shoulders; triceps extensions; biceps curls; squats for quadriceps, hamstrings and glutes; and kneeling crunches for abs. Resistance bands can also be used to perform power exercises such as jump squats and side-to-side giant steps.

Exercise Tips

If you get on the resistance bandwagon, perform exercises with slow, controlled movements, working against the resistance level when you’re pulling on the band and also when returning to starting positions.

Considerations

To prevent muscle adaptation and to keep workouts fresh and challenging, expand from bands and periodically use other forms of resistance such as free weights, machines, medicine balls or your own body weight. The American College of Sports Medicine recommends incorporating a complete, well-rounded physical activity program into your lifestyle to improve muscular fitness, cardiovascular endurance, overall health and agility. Before working out, consider health concerns, injuries and consult a health-care provider to determine which exercises are best for you.

 

About the Author

Bari Auerbach writes a fitness column and has won trophies in fitness shows. Since graduating from Florida International University in 1984 with a degree in communications, she has written for national clients; interviewed dignitaries and celebrities for magazines; and has covered topics including business, politics, fashion and food.

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