It's fair to say, COVID will be with us for some time, even with the promise of a vaccine now fully realized. Back in March, when the pandemic broke out, everyone turned to at-home workouts with the belief that we'd be back to normal and the gym in no time. Now, months later, we're still in the thick of things.
While the situation remains unstable, many are opting to continue their exercise programs at home. Even if gyms are open in your area, some people may not want to go back because of restrictive policies, safety issues, or their own cautiousness. If you're not ready to head back to the gym, working out at home is still a great alternative, especially as COVID numbers continue to spike.
Your Home Workout is a series of three articles that will help you focus on ways to get the most out of your home gym. It discusses exercises that require minimal space and minimal cost but deliver maximum benefit. This week's spotlight is on exercise bands. So let's get started.
What are Exercise Bands?
Exercise bands can go by a few different names, including resistance bands, training bands, fitness bands, resistance tubes, and more. But whatever you choose to call them, you can be sure that they will amp up the volume of your home workout. While compact, they pack a mighty punch and deliver tangible results that you can see and feel.
Exercise bands come in various shapes (flat, tubes, loops, figure 8s) and are typically made from natural or synthetic latex and, in the case of fabric bands, a mix of both latex and fabric.
Exercise bands can be just as effective as weights and exercise machines at building muscle and burning calories. But they work differently than weights because they keep constant tension on your muscles, so you'll always feel the burn no matter what position you're in. Additionally, when the bands are stretched, resistance increases and more tension is produced. You can perform all of the same exercises you'd do with weights or other workout machines, plus many more.
They have a multitude of uses, including strength training, cardio, stretching, and rehabilitation. You can even use them with the weights you have at home for added resistance to any exercise.
Benefits of Exercise Bands
Exercise bands are an all-in-one tool that makes working out possible anywhere and anytime. They offer a slew of advantages for both beginners and more experienced fitness enthusiasts, including:
- Portability – Their small design makes exercise bands easy to carry and store. You can use the bands in any size room or take them anyplace, whether you do your workouts in the basement or the bedroom.
- Adaptability – Exercise bands are usually sold in sets with resistance levels ranging from light to heavy. The variety in resistance allows you to adapt your workout and progress over time. You can also change your movements and the bands' placement to create challenging variations to your exercises.
- Versatility – Unlike free weights or bulky gym equipment, you can perform an assortment of exercises with just one band. You can train a specific body part, do lower, upper, or full-body workouts, or intensify cardio workouts.
- Improved muscle mass – Regular use of exercise bands can help you build and tone muscles. And who doesn't want to be strong?
- Therapeutic – Need to relieve sore or tight muscles or want safe exercises for your joints? Exercise bands can aid with muscle recovery, stretching, and rehabilitation.
- Inexpensive – Exercise bands are an affordable addition to any home gym. Most sets usually run for under $30 at Amazon. You can also buy slightly higher priced sets that include different types of bands.
Essentially there are two band types, flat and tubed. But within those categories are other variations. Here are some of the most popular exercise bands you may want to check out for your home gym.
- Loop bands (mini and standard size) are lightweight, flat looped bands, great for lower body work like glutes, hamstrings, thighs, etc. You can also use them for upper body work.
- Therapy bands are incredibly lightweight and flexible flat bands generally used for gentle rehabilitation purposes.
- Tube bands are long, durable tubes with cushioned handles on each end. They are used to perform more traditional strength-training exercises for the upper and lower body. Some tube sets come with detachable handles and additional accessories such as clips, ankle straps, and door anchors so you can easily change up your exercises.
- Figure 8 bands are shorter, closed-loop tube bands connected in the middle to form a figure 8 design. They are ideal for both upper and lower body workouts.
- Pullup assist bands are long, slim, flat bands typically used to aid with pullups but are also beneficial for cross-training and a range of other exercises.
- Fabric bands are wide and thick loop bands made from a combination of latex and fabric. Their unique design – they have grips on the inside – makes them ideal for performing lower body exercises without worrying that they will roll up or down or slip off.
Tip: You may want to consider having a few different types of bands for your home gym to optimize your workouts. This mixture will give you the freedom to switch up your routines and experiment with resistance levels. If you're a beginner, start with the lightest weights and progress as you gain strength.
When everything around us is changing, exercise can be a positive constant in our lives. It provides mental, physical, and emotional relief and release. And while access to gyms isn't a guarantee, given our current situation, access to exercise is still possible. Exercise bands are just one way you can keep up with your fitness and upgrade your home workout.
But like any other sports equipment or exercise program, their usefulness depends entirely on your commitment, willingness to challenge yourself, and ability to remain consistent and dedicated to your routine. As we near the holiday season, a time when gyms traditionally see increased numbers, it's as good a time as any to get your workout on. Whatever the reason, no gym access shouldn't mean the end to your workouts.