Resistance training is one of the best ways to build muscle and improve your overall health. Not everyone has access to a gym. Whether it's due to financial constraints, or life getting in the way, it is not always possible to make it to the gym. Utilizing bands can be a fantastic way of getting the benefits of resistance training with minimal equipment.
Time Under Tension
One of the things I love most about training with bands is the tension they offer. Even weights don’t provide the same kind of constant tension throughout the entire range of motion. If you want muscles to grow, they need to be firing constantly, and bands do a great job of activating the muscle. The bands also provide more tension, the farther they are stretched, so they can be a great way of really helping to hit that peak contraction.
Because there are many ways you can set up bands, they become very versatile, especially in terms of hitting different muscles. They can be wrapped around your knees, anchored by your feet, or anchored to the door. They are also great to take with you. Any time I have to travel for vacation or work, I take my bands with me so I can get an effective workout even just in my hotel room when I get the chance. Adherence and consistency are big factors for keeping someone sticking to their goals and on a schedule so they don't fall off. Bands help keep you on track even when you don’t have your normal equipment around. You can also adjust the difficulty simply by changing where on the band you grab (making it more or less difficult for you).
The other great thing about bands is you can utilize them for mobility exercises. Bands are a great tool for assisting you to getting a deeper stretch, or more range of motion when performed properly with the mobility exercise. They can also be helpful when recovering from an injury since the resistance, and pace can be better controlled. I always advise clients to incorporate 2-3 mobility days in between their regular workouts whether that's with bands or without. By incorporating bands into your mobility days, it’ll help you achieve a fuller range of motion on your workout days, which provides a bigger stimulus for muscle growth.
Designing a workout program using only bands is similar to any other workout program. Make sure to hit the full body 2-3 times a week. Choose band exercises that will stimulate a variety of muscle groups (band squats, seated band press, band deadlift, band row). Muscle growth can occur anywhere from 3-30 repetitions. Keep in mind, the higher in rep you go, the closer to failure you have to consistently reach each set. Start with doing 2-3 sets of 15-20 reps on each exercise. Each week try to do one more rep, or make the band a little tougher to stretch to make it more difficult. We are going for progressive overload, so that the proper muscle building signal gets sent to the muscles.
Remember to use bands as a way to feel the muscle working and connecting with it both concentrically and eccentrically. Use slow and controlled movements instead of rushing to move the resistance.