If you cringe thinking about lifting weights or working out on a weight machine, there’s good news. Using resistance bands, most strength-training exercises can be converted into workouts that are effective, safe and results-oriented.
“Band resistance is a low-impact, highly effective way to build muscle strength, no matter what your age or physical condition,” says Natasha Weddle, founder of TNB Fitness and The New Beginnings Center in Nashville. “The workouts can be customized by the band size and resistance level, and the investment in bands is much less than for weights or other types of equipment.”
There are several types of bands: loop power bands, tube resistance bands with handles and figure-8 bands. “Any type will work, but look for something that’s durable,” Weddle says. “Also consider how you want to train because the loop power bands and bands with handles can provide the most complete full-body workout.”
Band resistance has multiple benefits. From muscle endurance and strength-building to helping with flexibility and stability, they are an easy and portable way to train.
For instance, instead of using handheld dumbbells for bicep curls, secure the band with your feet and pull it up by bending your elbows and keeping your upper arms against your body. Use the bands from a standing position by anchoring them beneath your feet and pulling up over your head for an upper-back exercise.
The key, Weddle says, is to start slowly, and work initially with a professional who can assess your form. “You can also watch online videos to understand the different movements and proper posture.”
Band resistance training is low impact with less risk of injury because the linear variable resistance better mimics the strength curves of most muscles, providing less resistance at weaker points of the range of motion and more resistance at the stronger points, resulting in less impact on joints.
“Be in tune with your body,” she stresses. “If an exercise is painful, then don’t do it.”
Focused on specialized training for women, programs at TNB Fitness are custom designed for each client. “We help correct faulty movement mechanics, build strength and endurance, improve body composition and, ultimately, get them to a place that they would never reach on their own,” she says. “By including corrective exercises for proper movement from the beginning, we’re setting the stage for meeting their goals safely.”
With new clients just starting band training, Weddle begins with lower-resistance bands and aims for at least 15 repetitions of each movement. “If you can’t do 15 reps with the band you’ve chosen, drop down a band size,” she says. “Maintain a constant tempo or 2-count down/2-count up. And remember to breathe normally.”
The goal, she says, is to be able to do 40 reps with one size band, then go up to the next size. Doing a band workout two to four times a week is ideal, adding this routine to your regular trips to the gym.
“Just about any exercise can be modified for band resistance training,” she says. “And you’ll find that the more accustomed you get to using the bands, the more effective your workout will be.”
Weddle says that band resistance is a great way to improve fitness without risking injury.
“With the proper form, you can improve your range of motion, balance and coordination,” she says. “Plus you’ll end up burning fat, helping you build your core strength and improving your flexibility.”