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If you've never used or even heard of a resistance band, working out with one might seem a scary concept.
It might be hard to imagine how something that's essentially a reinforced rubber band can enhance your training, but when it comes to building strength effectively, switching things up is key. And a little change really can really go a long way.
Incorporating resistance bands into your workout can make a real difference if you're experiencing a plateau (or you're feeling a little bored of your routine), and best of all it's easy to do.
Now you’re probably wondering how to use resistance bands whilst you work out and what they do...
As the name suggests, they add that bit extra resistance to an exercise in a way that free weights can't. With exercise bands, the tension is constant through the entire movement and targets different muscle fibres.
The added resistance helps to build muscle more effectively and gets you working harder than you might normally.
ARE THEY BETTER THAN FREE WEIGHTS?
Both free weights and resistance bands are valuable tools for building muscle and creating positive growth in fitness.
When used correctly and with good form, resistance band exercises can offer as much out of a workout as conventional dumbbells.
Workout bands have the added benefit of being portable, inexpensive and convenient.
Whether you're using them in the comfort of your own home or adding them into your weights session to really feel that burn, resistance band workouts are a great way to change up your training.
WHAT STRENGTH SHOULD I CHOOSE?
Always choose the resistance that matches your current fitness level, not the level you're aiming for.
Light: Don't underestimate these bad boys. Perfect if you're a newbie when it comes to strength training, it's important to introduce your muscles to unfamiliar movements at a lighter strength to avoid injury. Remember, it's a marathon and not a race.
Lighter resistance bands are also ideal for stretching, as well as upping the intensity of your HIIT workouts without burning yourself out in the early rounds.
Increase your heart rate and fat burning potential by incorporating them into cardio exercises such as banded walks, ankle-banded jumping jacks and jumping squats. Trust us, you'll be feeling the burn.
Medium: For regular gym-goers looking to change up their training. Maybe you're used to using free weights and machines, but you're not seeing the same progress you once were. The dreaded plateau.
A plateau occurs when your muscles are no longer responding to the same stresses. In order to continue making progress, you'll need to switch things up. Studies have shown that incorporating even a light or medium resistance band into your workout can increase explosive strength and encourage new muscle growth.
Heavy: Are you tough enough? Don't fear the heavy resistance band - if it's a struggle right now, you might have a little way to go but don't give up.
For the ambitious weightlifter, adding a heavy resistance band is particularly beneficial for lower body workouts when it comes to properly engaging the intended muscle groups.
Try incorporating a heavy resistance band when performing squats, hip thrusts and crab walks (we're sorry in advance for the DOMS).
SO...WHERE DO I START?
If you're new to resistance training, we understand it might be a little intimidating to get started.
Just remember, everybody starts somewhere and we're here to help. If you're stuck for ideas, check out these great resistance band exercises for legs and lower body as part of our one-kit wonder workout series.