Tell me something: how is it that an oversized length of elastic – better known as a resistance band – can grab the attention of your muscles like no other? Seriously, resistance band training has proven to be a “workable alternative” to lifting weights when it comes to activating your muscles, according to recent research published in the Journal of Human Kinetics. The study authors compared muscle activation during upper body strength training with dumbbells versus free weights and found the results to be very similar. They believe that the instability created by the bands is what causes the muscle fibers to ignite even more, in some cases, than with free weights.
In addition: “Resistance bands are a simple, versatile tool for working your muscles,” says Sarah Gawron, an AFAA certified trainer, because they use constant tension to stimulate muscle growth, without putting pressure on your joints like the can heavy weights. “They can improve flexibility, mobility and strength.” It doesn’t even take long to see the difference. Five weeks of resistance band training was enough to significantly improve the hamstrings and inner thigh flexibility in subjects who participated in a new study published in the Journal of Sports Science & Medicine.
This is all great news, especially if you love to travel or are looking for something to complement your traditional bodybuilding program. Unlike dumbbells and medicine balls, you can throw resistance bands in your suitcase, store them in a drawer in your living room – heck, you can even keep them in your purse. (You know, if you’re hardcore like that …) But which ones are worth the purchase? Six best personal trainers share their recommendations for each resistance band that should be in your basket … yesterday.
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Ideal for beginners
Adjustment of the exercise bands in a simplified resistance loop
“The loop bands can work for anyone at any level of fitness,” says Garcia, because each loop offers a different degree of resistance. And this brand, in particular, provides a carrying bag to hold them, a guide and online training videos.
Although the loop bands are great for working your lower body, Garcia says it’s all about using them to increase difficulty when moving your upper body. For additional burns, wrap them around your wrists during pushups and deadlifts.
Ideal for a full body workout
Black Mountain Products Resistance Band Kit
Anja Garcia, an AFAA certified personal trainer, is all about this set of resistance bands deceived because it is essentially a mini gym. It comes with a starter guide for beginners, ankle straps and door anchors for tricep extensions, bicep curls and lat pulls. And the best part: “You can stack strips for added strength, which means that when you get stronger, you don’t have to buy a whole new set.”
The most versatile
Rogue Shorty Monster Bands
If you didn’t know how many resistance bands of widths and lengths could enter, you will now do so, thanks to another recording by Gawron. These versatile loops are ideal for improving mobility and building strength, as well as increasing your agility, plyometrics and speed training games. “The rogue monster bands are of the highest quality – durable equipment you can take anywhere.”
Perform better mini exercise bands
For a full body workout, Tatiana Lampa, ACSM certified personal trainer, turns to these mini-bands. She uses them to work on her outer thighs, buttocks, back, chest, abs and arms. And since she can take light curls everywhere, she will never miss training.
Ideal for lower body movements
Sling Shot Hip Circle by Mark Bell
This group is ideal for a warm-up. Katherine Ellis, NASM certified personal trainer, instructor at Our Body Electric and trainer at Uplift Studios, calls it a “very durable training tool” that is perfect for activating the hip and gluteal muscles before heavy lifting. Engage your muscles by pulling this loop on your thighs and after a few hip strokes, they will be able to better manage the stress of the weights you then turn to.
Ideal for Pilates and Barre workouts
TheraBand Latex Free Resistance Band Set
These latex-free tapes “are great for rehabilitation, improving daily functional activities and improving athletic performance,” said Sarah Gawron, an AFAA certified trainer. She likes them because they are an “effective alternative” to free weights like dumbbells and kettlebells, and they are ideal for anyone with latex sensitivity.
Ideal for overcoming pull-ups
SuperBands fitness solutions
If you’re trying to master the pullup (you fool yourself), those must be in your arsenal. Garcia yelled out these 41-inch-long superbands that you can tie around a pull-up bar to lift your body weight during power-ups, which are great for your back and lats. They’re tough, she says, but worth it.
Ideal for upper body movements
Exercise a better versatile first-place exercise band
“These are my absolute favorite groups for home use,” said Pete mcCall, ACE certified personal trainer and author of Smarter workouts. “They can be placed in a door frame or around a solid object,” he says, which is perfect for standing resistance training exercises.
Ideal for recovery
Stretching aid and patient guide
At six feet long, this band has elastic loops that are ideal for anchoring your feet or hands during stretching and muscle recovery movements. “It’s a great tool for improving flexibility,” says Ellis. Stuck on which moves are the best? You are covered, the strap is delivered with a guide.
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