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COLUMN | Gooding's Guide To Fitness

While experimenting with exercise bands, how many of you have gotten frustrated and now use them in place of bungee cords? Have they made you feel clumsy and entangled? Some of you may have used them on occasion, but feel they aren’t anything to write home about. If you fall into one of these groups who have missed the benefits of exercise bands and tubing, please keep reading.

First, to clarify the difference between tubes and bands, resistance tubes are round pieces of elastic and usually have handles; exercise bands are flat pieces of elastic that tend to be several inches wide. Resistance tubing and exercise bands are becoming a popular rehabilitation and training tool because they are safe, convenient, portable, affordable and effective. Even better is that anyone can get a great workout by using bands and/or tubing—fitness novices and professionals alike.

Convenient, Portable and Affordable

Does your job require you to travel? Do you live in a small apartment?  No problem with bands and tubing.  They are flexible, small, and can easily fit inside a purse or small travel bag. Not only are they convenient, but they are affordable.  Depending on where you look, you can spend as little as $20-30 for a set of bands or tubing. Keep in mind that bands do tend to stretch out, and they lose their elasticity with use over time, so investing in a quality set of bands or tubing is best.

Safe and Effective

Even though there have been few studies comparing the effectiveness of tubing vs. free weights, exercise specialists agree that exercise tubing and bands, when used correctly, are effective for strength training and for increasing range of motion and flexibility. Bands are also considered safe.  If you happen to drop a band on your foot, it will not shatter a toe like a free weight might. However, like with all exercise equipment, there are safety factors to consider with bands and tubing. Before using an exercise band or tube, make sure there are no holes or worn parts which may cause the elastic to break while in use. Always make sure you’ve securely anchored the tubing, and lastly, keep tubing and bands out of children’s reach.

Levels of Resistance

Tubes and bands come in different colors to represent different resistance; higher resistance is achieved by making the rubber thicker. Unfortunately, makers of exercise tubes have not corroboratively decided which colors represent specific resistance totals. Before purchasing them, it is best to test the bands or tubing to ensure you purchase the appropriate resistance for your workouts.

Exercises using Bands or Tubing

Essentially, any exercise you do with a dumbbell you can also do with elastic. By standing on a long exercise tube with handles, you can perform bent over rows, upright rows, overhead presses, lateral shoulder raises, and bicep curls. While standing on a shorter tube or band, you can add resistance to stationary lunges or plie squats. If you are able to attach the bands to a door or another stable and elevated place, you can perform lat pulls, pectoral flies and tricep pull downs. With a little imagination, you can invent safe, effective workouts of your own.

Combining Weights and Bands

Exercise bands can be used in addition to weight training. As many of you know, during exercises with variable resistance, the amount of resistance changes as you move through the range of motion. For example, during a dumbbell bicep curl, the tension on a person’s bicep is less at the bottom and the top of the movement. To alter this, you can perform an isolated bicep curl using both a band and dumbbell by looping the band around the dumbbell and anchoring the band with your foot. By doing this, you are increasing the likelihood that the tension on your bicep will be more intense throughout the movement; in addition, you are required to control the “pull” of the band on the way down, rather than just controlling the “dead” weight of the dumbbell.  If the band is the right strength, you may find that the dumbbell and band work in conjunction to help you build muscle.

What are you waiting for? Try using workout bands or tubes for your next workout, and please let me know how it goes — I love hearing from my readers.  Best of luck, stay positive, and keep up the great work.

Angie Gooding is a certified educator, ACE certified personal trainer, IFPA professional figure competitor, published author, wife and mother.  She lives in Marysville and trains in either a private studio, or at Power Alley Fitness Gym.  Please find her on Facebook or inspirefitnessandtraining.com.

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