Grueling overnight business trips jam your schedule for the next few weeks. So much for your exercise program. You may be able to squeeze in a cardio workout, but forget about strength training. It’ll have to wait until you get back … unless, of course, you have elastic resistance.
With rubber bands, you can take your workout on the road. And no matter how much you’ve packed, resistance bands will fit easily into any suitcase.
Elastic resistance offers benefits that typical strength training equipment doesn’t. It’s not necessarily tougher than free weights or barbells, but it does challenge your muscles differently.
Bands allow you to concentrate on the lifting and the lowering phases of an exercise. With free weights, for example, you might reach the top of the motion and then drop the weights suddenly. With bands, however, you have to stay in control; otherwise, the band will snap back at you. You can also perform exercises that free weights and barbells typically won’t allow.
A band isn’t just any strip of rubber, though. Many companies make bands in different resistance levels; the thicker the band, the harder the workout. Inquire at a local sporting goods store about elastic resistance, or search the web for home equipment resources.
The ins and outs of elastic resistance
Before you work with a band, make sure that it doesn’t show signs of normal wear and tear. Temperature changes often affect the tension and condition of the band so check for splits, holes or changes in tension. If you find anything wrong, throw away that band and get another one.
Also, when you exercise with bands, be aware of your body posture. Many first-time band users tend to bend their wrists excessively, especially when performing exercises for the upper body. Be sure to keep your wrists in line with your elbows at all times.
Finally, keep in mind the properties of elastic resistance. If the resistance is too great, ease up slightly on the band. On the other hand, if the resistance is too light, slide your hands closer together. Never, though, tie two bands together. Always stay in control of the band to maximize safety.
So pack up your bands and follow these exercises when you’re on the road. Who knows? Maybe going out of town won’t be so bad.
Spend at least five minutes warming up by doing light aerobic activity like jogging in place or walking up and down . People who are just starting a fitness routine or exercisers who are short on time should perform at least one set of six to 10 repetitions. Intermediate and advanced exercisers can increase the intensity to two or three sets of eight to 12 repetitions, time permitting.
Tie the band to form a loop. Sitting on the floor, place the band around your ankles. Keep your feet on the floor and lie face up. Lift your right foot off the floor until that leg is almost straight. Lower to starting position and repeat. If the band slides up your leg, step on the band with your left foot while you’re lifting. Switch sides and repeat.
With the band still tied in a loop around your ankles, lie face down on the floor. Place your hands on top of one another, directly underneath your forehead, and rest your forehead on top of your hands. Keeping your hips on the floor, slowly lift one foot off the floor and curl it into a 90-degree angle towards your body. Lower to starting position and repeat. Switch sides and repeat.
Standing, place the band around your upper back and shoulders and pull each end under your arms. Start with your elbows tucked by your sides, palms facing each other. From this position, press the band up and out at a 45-degree angle. Return to starting position and repeat.
Standing, hold the ends of the band in front of your body with your hands about shoulder-width apart. Keeping your elbows relaxed, lift your arms overhead. Slowly pull your right elbow down to your waist. Return to starting position and repeat. Switch sides and repeat.
Stand on the band with your right foot. Hold the other end in your right hand. With your right palm facing your body, slowly lift your arm to the side no higher than your shoulder. Remember to keep your wrist straight and your elbow relaxed. Return to starting position and repeat. Switch sides and repeat.
Kneel on the floor with your right knee. Place your left foot on the floor in front of your body, your left knee directly above your left foot. Place the band under your left foot; make sure the band is securely held by your foot. Hold the other end of the band with your left hand and place your left elbow to the inside of your left knee. (For comfort, rest your right hand behind your left elbow.) From this position, keeping your wrists straight, lift your left hand toward your left shoulder. Lower to starting position and repeat. Switch sides and repeat.
Standing, grasp the center of the band with your right hand. Place your right hand on your left shoulder. Grasp one end of the band with your left hand. Tuck your left elbow into your waist and bend your left arm so that your forearm is parallel to the floor (your left arm should form a 90-degree angle). Straighten your arm and press your left hand toward the floor. Return to starting position and repeat. Switch sides and repeat.