During the pandemic, resistance band exercises can be seen everywhere on social media. If you are not familiar with them, resistance bands are similar to elastic bands and are usually made of synthetic fibers such as latex or rubber. For example, you can wrap them around your legs or arms, which can help create more tension when you exercise. This tension will make exercise more difficult and will mobilize more muscles. Some people claim that this will help you build strength and muscles.
Many of us know that strength training is important. It not only helps us build strength, but also slows down muscle degeneration as we age, while increasing muscle mass can also increase metabolism. Although you can gain strength through pure weight exercises such as squats or lunges, the key to strengthening strength is usually resistance.
This is usually done using weights or weight machines. But in recent years—especially at the peak of the pandemic—resistance bands have become a popular way of creating such resistance to increase strength. This means you can get the benefits of extra strength without having to spend hours lifting weights in the gym.
Resistance bands can be easily used at home, do not take up much space and are inexpensive, which may be some of the reasons why they are so popular. Different elastic bands also have different degrees of resistance-such as light or heavy-to exercise your muscles at different levels of difficulty, making them suitable for people of all different fitness levels.
Studies have shown that the strength obtained by using elastic resistance bands is similar to using dumbbells or weightlifting machines for training, which not only benefits ordinary people, but also benefits athletes. Resistance band training can even increase stabilizing muscles to a greater extent than weight training. This muscle group is important because it supports our larger muscles and joints during exercise and helps us avoid injuries. Strengthening them can improve movement and stability, which is why resistance bands are often used for rehabilitation.
At the same time, older people can benefit from using resistance bands, and it is not always feasible to use free weights in these places—for example, perhaps because it is not easy for them to go to the gym. Using resistance band exercise is not only safe for the elderly, but also helps reduce weakness. Resistance bands can also improve balance, flexibility and body composition (reduce body fat and increase muscle).
Pros and cons
It is believed that due to logistical difficulties and financial costs, about half of those who start using traditional weight training give up within a year. Resistance bands may be a simpler way to increase strength and may encourage people to use them for a long time.
Nevertheless, they also have their shortcomings. You can reach maximum resistance only when the band stretches as far as possible. But for free weight, the resistance is consistent throughout the movement. You can also easily add more resistance (by lifting heavier weight) or eliminate resistance (reduce the weight you lift). Although you can use more resistance straps to get more power gains, these gains may not be as great as using weight.
Therefore, although the strength gained by using resistance band exercises is similar to conventional methods (such as free weight exercises), you can use free weights to counter greater resistance, so in this case, you will gain greater strength. There are some supports to combine resistance bands with free weights to maximize strength: fixed resistance of free weights and variable resistance of resistance bands.
However, although it is important to understand these limitations of resistance bands, they are still an effective way to build muscle and strength. Given that they are cheap and easy to use, they may be a good choice for people who are just starting out or do not want to pay for gym membership. This means that almost everyone can get the benefits of strength training without the need to lift weights.