Rubber stretch exercise bands are an effective alternative to free weights and resistance machines for toning and strengthening your muscles. Originally, the bands were designed to be used to rehabilitate injured muscles, but they are now commonplace in fitness centers and home gyms. Apart from being effective for toning your muscles, exercise bands offer other benefits.
Rubber Exercise Bands
Rubber exercise bands come in two main varieties: flat lengths of rubber and rubber tubes with handles on either end. Both types of bands come in several thicknesses and weights, with light bands offering little resistance and heavier bands offering more resistance. The more you stretch the band, the more your muscles are challenged and toned. Accessories including door attachments and ankle cuffs are available, which allow you to perform an even greater array of exercises.
A study published in the September 2008 issue of the "Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research" concluded that exercise bands offer significant physiological benefits comparable to those obtained from weight machines. A further study published in the February 2010 issue of the journal "Physical Therapy" concluded that higher levels of muscle activation were obtained during resistance exercises using elastic tubing than using dumbbells.
Hold the two ends of the band with your hands to perform dozens of different exercises. By placing your feet on the middle of the band and curling your arms up, you tone your biceps, while keeping your arms straight as you raise them will tone your shoulders. Placing the band behind your back and reaching your arms forward will tone your chest muscles, and holding the band across your chest and extending your arms to the sides will strengthen your back.
Bands are easy to travel with and much more affordable than free weights or weight machines. Bands are suitable for all fitness levels from beginners to advanced exercisers, and they are safer to exercise with since there is little risk of dropping them as you might a heavy weight.
Check your exercise bands before every use. Look for any signs of wear from repetitive use, including cracks or worn ends as well as any rips or damage; don't use damaged bands. Start using bands with little resistance and work up toward heavier bands as your strength progresses. Always speak to your doctor before beginning a new exercise regimen. Stop exercising immediately if you feel any sharp or sudden pains.
- American College of Sports Medicine: Selecting and Effectively Using Rubber Band Resistance Exercise
- Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research: Effects of a Short-Term Resistance Program Using Elastic Bands Versus Weight Machines for Sedentary Middle-Aged Women
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Andrea Chrysanthou began writing professionally in 1993. Her work has been published internationally by "The Cyprus Mail," MochaSofa and My Favorite Trainer, among other magazines and websites. She holds a Bachelor of Applied Arts in journalism from Ryerson University. Chrysanthou is a certified fitness instructor and personal-training specialist with more than 10 years of experience in the fitness industry.