“Trainers and therapists love bands because they can adapt any exercise to a functional application.”

In a 2011 IDEA Personal Training Equipment Trends Report, resistance-training bands were ranked with stability balls as the most popular piece of exercise equipment.

It’s no wonder they’re so popular given they’re lightweight and easy to transport (which makes them perfect for the person on the go.)

Trainers and therapists love bands because they can adapt any exercise to a functional application.

Chances are you’re familiar with the term “strength training.”

And you’re probably no stranger to the concepts of weight training, resistance training, or progressive resistance exercise.

These terms are used interchangeably to describe the act of harnessing a resistance to place a load/strain on a muscle, to develop muscle, or improve muscular endurance.

In other words: resistance builds muscle strength (and endurance).

In weight training you increase the weight, but in resistance band training you progress to the next harder band or combine two bands together.

But before you pull out your bands and start your next strength program, make sure you have the basics down first:

#1. Learn How Your Muscles Behave

A muscle action refers to the state of activity of a muscle. Muscles are capable of three types of activity:

Concentric muscle actions involve the shortening of the muscle and usually
occur when the body or a weight is lifted.

Eccentric muscle actions involve lengthening of a muscle and usually occur
when a weight is being lowered of the body is decelerated. Landing from a jump involves an eccentric contraction of the quadriceps muscles.

Isometric muscle actions involve no change in the length or a muscle. The
maintenance of body positions during strength training exercises is accomplished through isometric muscle actions.

#2. SIRRV Your Body Well: 5 training variables to master

Sets and Repetitions

In strength training a movement cycle consists of a concentric and an eccentric contraction. This cycle is known as a repetition or “rep.” When several repetitions are performed in a row this is know as a “set.” The number of sets and repetitions that are performed during a training session depends upon the age and experience of the athlete as well as the goals of the training session.

Intensity

Intensity is the amount of tension or stress put on the muscle. Intensity is influenced by the number of sets and reps, and the amount of rest between sets, but mostly intensity is affected by the amount of resistance of the bands. Intensity is relative: what is intense for one person may be quite easy for another.

Rest

Sounds simple enough, but let’s assume we’re all beginners here. Rest refers to the amount of time that is taken between sets or exercises. For example, say you do a set of bench press with your resistance bands, and then wait three minutes before you do another set; your rest period was three minutes.

Recovery

The period of time between training sessions that work the same muscle group or exercise, is referred to as recovery. If you did alternate arm curls with your resistance bands as part of your workout on Monday, and then did it again on Wednesday, you have had two days (or 48 hours) recovery.

Volume

Volume is the total amount of work you end up doing. Simply multiply the sets and reps for each exercise and you’ll have a total number of repetitions per exercise. In certain instances, this is multiplied by the amount of weight lifted for each exercise to get a total amount of weight lifted in the workout.

#3. Understand the 3 Planes of Movement

An important first step when taking up resistance training (or any form of strength training), is knowing how your body moves. There are three planes of movement that correspond to the three dimensions of space and four major types of movement.

Sagittal Plane

The sagittal plane is a vertical plane, passing from front to back, dividing the body into right and left halves.

Frontal Plane

The frontal plane is a vertical plane dissecting the body from one side to another, dividing it into front (anterior) and back (posterior) halves.

Transverse Plane

The transverse plane is a horizontal plane dividing the body into upper and lower halves.

#4. Know the 4 Types of Body Movement

Flexion

Flexion is a movement in which the angle at a joint diminishes. For instance, there is flexion of the elbow occurring in the arm curl exercise.

Extension

Extension is the opposite of flexion — the angle at the joint increase.

Abduction

Abduction occurs when a limb is moved away from the midline of the body. This term is most often used in sideward movements of the upper limbs away from the body, as in the lateral raise.

Adduction

Adduction occurs when a limb moves towards the midline of the body. This is the opposite of abduction.

#5. Get to Know the 3 Grips

Gripping the tube is an often-overlooked component of strength training. A firm grip on the tube is essential for sale performance of the resistance band exercises. A good grip will improve your ability to contract the muscles of the upper body that stabilize you during lifting. There are three different handgrips that can be used.

Underhand Grip

The underhand grip is used mainly for arm curl exercises. The palms are facing forward and the thumbs are wrapped around the handle of the tubing.

Overhand Grip

This is the most common grip; the palms are placed over the handle and are facing away from the body. This grip is used in pressing movements, squats, pulldowns, various rows, and many tricep exercises.

Neutral Grip

The neutral grip is the most common grip if you are using bands or tubing that does not have a handle. The tubing is held in the palm of the hand with the palms facing medially.

Now You’re Ready to Maximize Your Resistance Band Workouts

Whether you’re looking to enhance your physique, elevate your sports performance or simply improve functional fitness, this basic primer will serve to help you set a strong foundation for all of your resistance bands workouts from here on out.

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