Why Resistance Bands May Be The Fitness Game Changer You Need
Why resistance bands?
While weights are all well and good, when it comes to versatility, there are some distinct advantages to resistance bands, especially when it comes to mobility and health.
First of all, exercise is the act of applying resistance to the body in order to cause positive changes. There’s a broad range of things that can constitute exercises, from hypertrophy training to strength building to cardio to anaerobic training to balance to etc. and beyond.
Weights are great for building size, and can even be used to some utility for mobility work, but your body adapts to moving an object. This brings us to our first great advantage from resistance bands:
Instability. Your body adapts to stress but it likes to be as efficient as possible. When you introduce an exercise, your body will adapt as quickly as possible and ingrain specific movement patterns and specific muscles. This doesn’t mean that all the right muscles are used, or that everyone will use the same muscle groups to do the same exercise. The major muscle groups, sure, but only some of the small muscle spindles. This leaves parts of your body to neglect when otherwise you could be get more strength and stability out of them. This is also how over-use injuries occur. With resistance bands, however, this problem is greatly reduced by the instability of the band. As you perform a movement, the loading is uneven with a resistance band, whereas a weight stays the same. The more you pull a band, the tighter it gets, changing the resistance as you perform movement. Resistance bands are particularly good at targeting small muscle groups, especially inside the joints to correct bad movement patterns.
Next, variability. There are a small handful of weight movements you can’t replicate with a band, but for that small variety, you can adapt almost every other exercise in the world to use a band. Add a loop band to an air squat to create knee stability, and if you’re particularly adventurous (and experienced) you can even rig resistance bands to barbells to add their effects to full body loaded movements like the back squat or the jerk.
Third, and we’ve partially mentioned this, but mobility. Resistance bands have an uncanny ability to open up new movement patterns and loosen tight knots, closed movement systems. Resistance bands are a phenomenal way to rehab old injuries. There are tons of exercises you can do to activate the back and inside of the shoulder to repair rotator cup issues. You can also stabilize your knees, open your hips, even mobilize your ankles.
Hardly the least but finally, resistance bands are cheap. To get access to weights, either by buying them or through a gym membership, you’re going to spend hundreds (possibly monthly!) In order to offer people cheaper home options, companies have gone out of their way to make extravagant devices like the bowflex adjustable dumbbell set. Even so, you’d be spending $500 or more to get access to a wide range of resistances. For less than a tenth of that, a mere $50 bucks, you can get a full set of resistance bands including handled bands, flat bands, and loops.
Actually, last reason, portability. You can bring a bag of resistance bands anywhere. Try doing that with a couple dumbbells.
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