Yesterday I wrote a post about stability balls, which are a different, yet effective way to exercise. They are inexpensive, light-weight, and fun. I think an important part of fitness is being educated in different equipment and its uses. Today, I wanted to introduce another effective exercise tool, the resistance band.
Resistance bands provide for a great total body workout. If used correctly, they can be used to work every muscle group. They are widely known for their added resistance to exercise and can be more fun than lifting weights. Resistance bands strengthen muscles, improve bone density, improve posture, and increase metabolism.
Probably the best part about resistance bands is their cost. Total body exercise machines such as the Bow-Flex that have weights attached to a cable and pulley provide resistance, and are also very effective. Yet, a resistance band can produce the same results for your muscles while saving you hundreds of dollars and taking up less space in your home.
I use resistance bands a good bit in my aerobics classes to combine some muscle conditioning with cardio. As a side note, I learned that when you lift, or add some other form of strength training in to your routines it helps your body burn more fat.
Teaching a class has a little bit more to it than just teaching the class. There is also class management involved. As an instructor you have to make sure the area is safe. This means that when you’re not using any strength training equipment everything has to be cleared off the floor to prevent falls or injury. You also have to look out for water bottles and cell phones. One of my favorite reasons for using the resistance band in classes is because they are safer than weights. Because they are only an elastic band, if you drop them on your foot, it’s not going to hurt you or crush any bones.
They also offer a feeling of variety among the class. Most likely, almost everyone has lifted a dumb bell before, and most even know all of the possible exercises you can do with them. Using a band teaches the class something new and hopefully helps increase enthusiasm.
From what I have learned about fitness, I would like to stress that it is important to exercise your muscle groups from the core, out. The core (chest, back, and abdominal muscles) needs to be strong and stabilized to support your limb muscles (arms and legs). In my classes I always begin exercising the chest first, then the back, and proceed to limbs. Here are some exercises I use:
Chest (Chest Press)
- Wrap the Band behind something stable behind you and hold the handles in front of you.
- The tubes will run along the inside of your arms and your palms will face each other.
- Press arms out in front of you and return.
- Repeat for 10-15 reps.
- Begin standing in either a lunge or squat position.
- Hold the band at the appropriate resistance level above your head.
- As you bend down into either a squat or a lunge, pull the band down to your chest.
- Come back up into standing position.
- Repeat 10-15 reps
- Stand on the band with both feet.
- Hold a handle in each hand.
- Begin alternating curls bringing the right hand to your chest and back down, then the left for 10-15 reps each.
- Try to remember to think of your elbow as a hinge. It is the only part of your arm that moves.
- Stand with both feet on the band
- Beginning with your right leg, lift your leg out to the side.
- Switch to the left leg and continue alternating for 10-15 reps.