Resistance bands are elastic and stretchy bands that let one add light strength training to ones' exercise routine anywhere, anytime. Resistance bands are one of the most used home gym equipment. They are an alternative to many gym tools and help build almost all body muscles. They're portable and easy to store, so be it home, hotel or park, one can have better command over their fitness regime everywhere they go. Fitness Enthusiasts, sportspersons and novice users can use these bands during the Covid lockdown to be in shape!
Firstly, the following checks will tell you how to use resistance bands safely:
- Learning how to use light resistance:
Resistance bands are an alternative to weight lifting. They work just like weights, instead of gravity pulling down the weights, one is fighting the tension in the band.
- Resistance workouts are great when one has joint pains and can't hold the weights comfortably.
- Tube bands just like skipping ropes have handles on the end for added convenience.
- Basic bands that don't have handles and need to be tied or gripped to work.
- Band's colour helps to determine the band's resistance:
Usually, resistance bands have colour coding to help users develop their workout. Though it is not a perfect system, generally, darker coloured bands have higher resistance.
- Bands with light resistance: 1.5-2.5 kgs of resistance
- Bands with medium resistance: 3.5-4.5 kgs of resistance. A good starting resistance.
- Bands with heavy resistance: 4.5-6.5 kgs of resistance
- Bands with extra-heavy resistance: 7 or more kgs of resistance
- Band's position needs to be adjusted to make the workout easier or harder:
A rubber band is tighter to pull as it is stretched more. Similarly, the band provides more resistance when it can be barely stretched anymore. There are some ways by which the resistance with the band can be increased:
- Tying a knot or loop to shorten the band
- Stepping on some of the band before grabbing the ends
- Moving further away from the band's anchor(the object to which the band is tied to or attached to)
- Do slow, controlled movements for perfect form:
Do each exercise slowly and rhythmically, avoiding jerks. This practice will help prevent cramps and also tone the muscle better. The right technique is more important than resistance.
- Practice timed, low-intensity sets:
Practise sets of 20-60 seconds each and try to feel the flex in the final 2-3 reps.
The myth in exercising is- no pain, no gain. If one feels pain, one should stop the exercise and see a sports health professional immediately.
- Learn how to tie a basic anchor knot:
An anchor is a prop to use the bands. One can use a tree, doorknob or a pole as an anchor.
Make sure the anchor is not moving when you pull the band to avoid injury.
We bring to you the most useful resistance band exercises to add to your fitness routine.
Lower Body Exercises:
- Front squats to build quads and hamstrings- Stand on the band and keep your feet slightly more apart than the shoulder width. Pull the ends of the bands up to your shoulders. You can also cross the arms across the chest while pulling the band. Now, go to the squat position, that is as if you're sitting on an invisible chair. Hold down for 5 seconds and stand up. Repeat this for 8-10 reps.
- Leg extensions to build quad muscles- Sit on a chair or a stool and in an inclined position as if you were sitting on a pool chair. Hold the band in both your hands. Now, bend a knee towards your chest and put your foot in the middle of the band. Stretch the leg straight in front of you. Get back slowly to the starting position and repeat for 8-10 reps before changing the leg.
- Standing bicep curls- Stand on the band and keep your feet shoulder-width apart. Hold the handles of the band on each side and keep your arms straight down, palms facing in front of you. Pull the handles of the band towards your shoulders, bending your elbows; until you get a good bicep contraction. Slowly lower the arms back down. Do 12-15 curls.
- Triceps kickback- Stand in a forward lunge position with the left leg forward, placed over the centre of the band. Hold each band end and position your arms on your side with palms facing behind you. Now, press your arms down behind the back until your arms fully extend. Bring your arms forward and stand straight to relax. Do this for 8-10 reps.
- Kneeling crunch to work on your abs- Attach the band to an anchor behind you at a position above your head. Kneel, roll your elbows towards your shoulders and hold both sides of the band on each side. Now, crunch down towards the hips positions while contracting the abs.
Slowly and gradually, return to the starting position. Do 10-12 reps.
- Reverse crunch- Lie down on your back with your face up. Bend your knees and bring them in line with the hips. Fit the resistance band that is tied to an anchor to your feet. Bring your knees to your chest, contracting your abdominal muscles with the resistance because of the band. Return to the starting position slowly. Do 12-15 reps.
- Bent-over row- Stand on the centre of the band and keep your feet shoulder-width apart. Bend your knees slightly and hinge your waist, keeping your hips back. Grab the handles of the band with your hands facing the outside of the knees. Pull the band up towards the hips, leading to the squeeze of the shoulders blades, till the elbows make a ninety-degree angle. Release from the position, Do 10-12 reps.
- Pull Apart- Stand with your feet shoulder-width apart and your knees slightly bent. Hold the middle section of the band with both hands at the shoulder level, with palms facing downward.
Keep the arms straight forward and expand to the sides, contracting your shoulder blades. Stretch and release for 8-10 repetitions.
- Push up Get in the plank position and drape the resistance band around your shoulders. Loop the ends of the band between your thumb and fingers to hold the band and get in the starting position with hands facing the floor. Do a push-up by raising your arms straight and with the resistance faced because of the band. Repeat 5-20 times. Slowly come down with your chest to the floor and relax.
- Standing Chest Press- Anchor the tube behind your back, at the chest height. Grab each handle and position the hands at chest height. With the elbows up and palms facing down, press the band straight out in front of you till the arms fully extend forward and the chest muscles squeeze. Slowly return to the starting position. Press on for 12-15 reps.
- Shoulder presses to work on your upper shoulders- Stand on the centre of the band with feet shoulder apart. Grip each handle, positioning the hands at the shoulder level with the palms facing each other so that the thumbs touch the shoulders. Press straight up, rotating the palms forwards as you extend the arms. Lower back down slowly and relax. Repeat 8-10 times.
- Forward Raise- Stand in the middle of the band with feet shoulder-width apart. Grip the band handles at your sides with palms facing inward. Next, without locking the arm, raise the left arm straight in front of you to shoulder height. Slowly go back down. Repeat 8-10 times before switching arms.
Always securely place your resistance bands before you start exercises so you don't injure yourself or the people around you.
Know that resistance bands may become too easy for you as you get stronger, so consider adding weights to your routine.
Never tie the bands around your joints or waist to tighten it up.
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