Resistance bands have been used for strength training, muscle toning and injury prevention for years. According to Livestrong, while elastic resistance bands are often used in fitness programs, their origins lie in physical therapy. Resistance training can aid in the reduction of muscular imbalances, as well as shorten recovery time after an injury. Another advantage is that the band is a light-weight piece of equipment that can be taken anywhere and utilized by anyone of any age. Resistance bands, sometimes referred to as “Thera-bands,” are often used by professional athletes, specifically dancers, to warm up their muscles, provide a deeper stretch and prevent injuries in their joints from other vigorous exercise.
Thera-bands have three different levels divided by color, ranging from beginning to advanced use in the following order: tan, yellow, red, green, blue, black, silver and gold. Band exertion ranges from 2.4 lbs (tan) to 21.3 lbs (gold, when stretched to 200 percent). For a harder workout, it is recommended to use a thicker band, add more bands or stretch the band more. Heavy bands are beneficial for strength training while a light band helps with endurance and conditioning. Unlike weights, which require a rest day after tearing muscles, resistance bands can be used to build muscle every day of the week. This type of exercise requires coordination and balance so the user utilizes more muscle groups in order to stabilize their body. Bands offer more variety because of the ability to adjust resistance in all directions, which helps strengthen neglected muscle groups. In addition, any exercise using resistance bands can be done in the comfort of one’s dorm room.
Build strength and tone your muscles with this workout plan:
Targeted Muscle: Shoulders
Stand up straight with feet facing forward and knees at hips width apart. Hold the ends of the band firmly in both hands and wrap the band once around your palms. Lift the band over head and pull down and out, expanding the band until your arms are outstretched. Return the band overhead and repeat for three sets of 10.
Targeted Muscle: Biceps
Stand up straight with feet facing forward and knees at hips width apart. Hold the ends of the band firmly in both hands at their respective sides. Place both feet in the center of the band and bend your arms upward. Release your arms downward slowly and repeat for three sets of 10.
Targeted Muscle: Triceps
Stand up straight with feet facing forward and knees at hips width apart. Extend your arms straight out in front of you, holding the center of the band firmly in both hands.Lift one arm upward, forming a diagonal and pull and release quickly for one set of 10. Repeat to the other side. Alternate sides for three sets of 10.
Targeted Muscles: Gluteus maximus, Hamstring and Quadricep
Start off by tying a secure knot around one of your arches. Place both hands and knees on the ground and extend your tied foot in the air. Bring your foot back down and repeat the sequence for three sets of 10. Switch the knot to your other foot and repeat the exercise.
Targeted Muscle: Latissimus Dorsi
Sit down with your legs straight out in front of you. Hold the ends of the band with both hands and place both feet in the center of the band. With a firm grip, twist your body to the right side while pulling the band and right leg back in the twist. Release the twist and face straight ahead. Repeat the exercise to the left side, alternating sides for three sets of 10. Increase speed if necessary.
Improve flexibility with these three stretches:
Targeted Stretch: Calf, Ankle and Arch
Sit down with your legs straight out in front of you. Hold the ends of the band with both hands and place one foot in the center of the band. Bend and flex your foot, gripping the band tightly to create tension. Begin with three sets of 10.
Targeted Stretch: Groin, Hamstring and Quadricep
Hold the ends of the band with both hands and place your feet in the center of the band.Lay flat on your back and lift both legs up, drawing them as close as comfortably possible to your face. Grip the band closer and increase the tension to create a deeper stretch. This stretch can also be done one leg at a time. For a more advanced stretch, bend and flex your feet while your legs are lifted.
Targeted Muscles: Groin, Hamstring and Quadricep
Start off by tying a secure knot around one of your arches. Lift your bent knee to its highest height, while holding the band in the opposite hand. Extend your leg until it is fully straightened. Pull the band with your opposite hand until you feel the stretch. Repeat to the other side. This exercise can also be performed to the side.
Resistance bands are cheap compared to prices of other exercise equipment. For less than $12, you can purchase a Thera-band on Amazon.com.