I’m sure most guys out there have purchased some weights at some point in their lives (myself included). They are great, but they take up a lot of space, and the spin lock ones (which I have got) are annoying to keep changing etc. They are also a nightmare to transport anywhere because they are just so damn heavy. So, for a combination of these reasons (and a desire to mix things up) a couple of weeks ago I decided to try these resistance bands which I first saw on the +P90X videos. I’ve been using them for a good few weeks now, and thought it was about time I gave a quick review of them.
Comfort – Pretty comfortable to use with their padded grips, and easy to use. Only fault is with some exercises you need to have the bands under your feet, and as you stretch and relax the bands it can pull at your skin (I could just wear socks though I guess…). The real problem (which to be fair hasn’t happened yet) is when you are using the bands trapped behind a shut door (as some exercises require) all I can think about is something snapping and the bands at full tension coming flying back at my body like a giant elastic band – If/when this happens, it will hurt!
Fulfilment of purpose – They do the job just fine, and after using them for a work-out my muscles do feel tired, although them don’t seem to be able to quite offer the same challenge as free weights. There also doesn’t seem to be much room for progression. Already I am using all the bands combined for some muscle groups, so if my strength goes up, I can’t really progress unless I buy more bands. Which really isn’t too big of a deal – so cheap. The resistance bands are quite diverse, and you can exercise a number of muscle groups, but maily upper body. This for me is fine as I do a lot of running. There are some leg exercises, but I don’t think the bands offer enough resistance for a proper leg work out.
It can also be quite hard to gauge progress, as you can’t really say ‘today I did 20kg, next time I want to do 22.5kg’, because there is no weight, just tension, which can be very variable. A work-out with resistance bands is kind of guess work, and you need to listen to your body to get the most out of them, i.e if you can do more reps, then increase tension etc. Every work out will be slightly different. This can also be seen as a good thing, because instead of having to to jump from 20kg to 22.5kg as you would with free weights, you can increase the tension slightly (say maybe to the equivalent of 21kg). This is perfect for small muscle groups such as biceps and triceps.
I really do like the bands, and they offer a great alternative to free weights. My favourite thing is that the further you lift your arm up (as with bicep curls) the tension increases, making it harder! They are probably not suitable for serious bodybuilders though.
Design – Being bands, they are very easy to transport, and mine even came with a bag! Great for travelling around as I often do. It is also very easy to change the resistance in a few seconds if you want to do some really fast reps, much easier than free weights. The bands are colour coded to show the varying resistance which makes things even easier.
I also enjoy not having to lug heavy weights around faffing about with spin locks, and the general hassle of changing weights around. There have been so many times using free weight I have just though ‘I’ll just use what is already on there’. I much prefer bands to free weights.
So overall, I think resistance bands are a great purchase, they do give you a solid workout, easy to use, and very portable. I think free weights will probably give you a slightly better work out, but the increasing tension of the bands as you lift is a feature which free weights don’t have.
Image courtesy of wikidave