By: Tim Rigby (courtesy of Inside Fitness)
For many decades in the fitness world, resistance bands have been employed as a way to train each muscle group in your body. But until recent years, the results achieved were usually very mild, and the prevailing mindset was that this form of equipment was merely a stop-gap that simply acted as a fill-in. Many lifters, when unable to train with their preferred equipment like free weights, would, as a last resort, opt for resistance bands with an attitude that “any training is better than no training.” Still, there must be a certain something about resistance bands, because they’ve never become extinct as a piece of training equipment. There’s got to be a reason why instead of vanishing from the fitness world, they’re still in popular use and highly recommended, including by none other than training icon James Grage, co-founder of the BPI Sports supplements line and Inside Fitness contributor.
So what is it about resistance bands that make them a valuable consideration in today’s always-evolving fitness world? For starters, newer versions of bands have been developed that come in a full range of resistances and lengths. This means that they have a broader application than in days of old, when people attempted to use just one band, with just one resistance, for all of their muscle groups. Today, bands are often sold in sets, such that you can target major muscle groups (wherein you’re naturally stronger) with bands that possess greater tension, and you can target smaller muscle groups with bands that possess less tension.
Praise from the Pros
One of the most recognizable fitness cover models of our time is Parker Cote from New England. Parker has twice been featured in Inside Fitness and his expert knowledge of fitness training includes heaps of praise for resistance bands."Resistance bands are great because they are easy to travel with and give the joints a break from heavy resistance training,” says Parker. “I also incorporate bands to make a common move more interesting. For example, wrapping a band around the barbell collars and underneath the bench turns the traditional bench press into an entirely different exercise, forcing the chest and secondary muscles to work differently. The other thing about bands that is different than a free weight is that as you perform the concentric portion of the exercise, the resistance increases as opposed to a free weight where the resistance remains constant throughout. Both forms of exercise are important to include – the more variety the better.”
The Value of Versatility
Sean Sapera is one of Canada’s top IFBB Pros in the Physique division. This veteran member of Canada’s specialized military also puts a lot of credence in the usefulness of resistance bands to keep his body sculpted and stage-worthy. “I've used resistance bands for quite some time,” says Sean. “Being in the infantry away in the field for long periods of time, and having a passion for bodybuilding don’t really mix, so I bought a heavy set of bands to help me at least maintain. The convenience of the bands, coupled with the versatility in how you use them, were the perfect combination while I was stuck in austere conditions. I enjoy my bands because of the greater resistance they provide the further stretched out they become. Furthermore, they can also be used for body weight exercises such as pull-ups, push ups, air squats, etc. in order to either assist or resist whatever movement you engage in. I've always thought bands were a very valuable tool to keep in your fitness arsenal, to either complement a working set with weights, or simply to get a quick pump when space and time are limited.”
While this full body workout may be lighter on resistance than using traditional free weights, it’s heavy on volume. You’ll train your larger muscle groups first, then work down to your smaller ones. Don’t worry about cadence, but keep your rep speed moderate, while using control and sound technique. Resistance bands absolutely work effectively for the pros – let them work their magic in getting awesome full-body results for you too!
This full-body blast incorporates one resistance band exercise per major body part. Specifically, nine major body parts will be trained in order of size, so as to work the bigger groups first when you have the most energy. The order of muscle groups trained is as follows: (1) quads; (2) hamstrings; (3) glutes; (4) back; (5) chest; (6) shoulders; (7) calves; (8) triceps; (9) biceps.
Exercise Sets Reps Rest
FRONT SQUAT 2 12, 10 1:00 min.
PRONE LEG CURL 2 12, 10 1:00 min.
LYING PELVIC THRUST 2 12, 10 1:00 min.
PULL-APART 3 12, 10, 8 1:00 min.
STANDING CHEST PRESS 3 12, 10, 8 1:00 min.
FRONT RAISE 3 12, 10, 8 1:00 min.
CALF RAISE 4 12, 12, 12, 12 1:00 min.
OVERHEAD EXTENSION 4 12, 12, 12, 12 1:00 min.
STANDING CURL 4 12, 12, 12, 12 1:00 min.