ADVANTAGES OF TRAINING WITH ELASTIC BANDS

 In Fitness

Today we are going to talk about the advantages of training with elastic bands.

 

1 – Dynamic load adjustment: Vary the “weight” DURING the exercise.

 

With the bands, you can adjust the load even more than with the weights. In addition to being able to use different bands with different resistance, which can reach up to a hundred kilos, depends on the height at which the sheets will be more or less shortened and stretched, and therefore will be harder or less (the tighter, the stronger pull you). The same applies if you spread your legs more when stepping on them to do a “self-anchoring” exercise (your own weight is the one that attaches the band to the ground), or separate yourself from the anchor point to which you have attached the band (a door, a pole, or wherever you have attached the rubber).

 

Not only that but with the elastic bands, you can adjust the weight during the exercise. If you do 5 repetitions and you see that you don’t get to the 12 repetitions of the series you’re playing, instead of throwing the series, you just have to loosen up a little bit of rope, or join the feet with which you’re stepping on the elastic, or get a little closer to the anchorage point, and reduce the load to finish the exercise.

 

With weights or machines, to change the weight you have to leave the exercise, change it, and come back, screwing the series anyway. With the bands you can do it dynamically, increasing or decreasing the tension at will in half a second while you keep lifting, without the need to throw the series in the trash.

 

 

2 – Speed of movements: Farewell to traps with inertia, and perfect explosives.

 

With weights, you are “doomed” to work with controlled speeds. This is their thing in the eccentric phase (negative), but in the concentric phase, depending on the exercise or objective, in many cases it is more beneficial to do it in an explosive way (clarification so that nobody gets confused, you can make explosives, but you don’t have to, you can climb as slowly as you want). Making “perfect” explosives with weights, in most cases, is not possible due to inertia.

 

For example, if when making biceps curl, at the beginning of the exercise you hit a big upward pull, the inertia makes that after that initial explosive pull the weight rises from the pull, or at least in a much easier way, because due to its mass, when moving it quickly conserves the kinetic energy transmitted with the initial pull, making that we are only exercising to the maximum in that initial pull, and not in the whole movement.

 

The same inertia is what makes many people “cheat”, sometimes even unwittingly, when doing certain exercises. Again, with the biceps curl: Who hasn’t pulled the hip-lumbar to raise that last rep? This is ultra-harmful, never do it if you don’t want to fill your low back with protrusions and hernias. Or there’s also the infamous dominated swing, which makes everyone an expert.

 

Don’t confuse compound movements (which use several muscle groups) with inserting muscles that shouldn’t participate. With these “traps”, we are introducing muscles that should not participate in the movement, with the consequent INJURIES that can appear when making rare movements, especially with the back. And on top of that, decreasing the load on the muscle we are supposed to be working on.

 

This is not possible with bands, as there is no weight that can be given inertia. The rubber does not weigh, therefore there is no kinetic energy that can be preserved after the initial push, and the resistance does not depend on the weight of this, but on how stretched it is. Therefore, we avoid injuries by putting muscles that do not touch, and we do not reduce the tension on the muscle of interest.

 

In addition, going back to the explosives (I repeat, totally optional), the more stretched the band, the more resistance it will offer, so that explosive exercises can be practiced, and the more we stretch the more force it will exert (this is explained in point 3), so we have tension throughout the range of the route even making explosives. That’s why boxers use them to train the explosiveness of their punches.

 

2.5 – Tension in the whole movement: Maximum load in maximum contraction.

 

This goes a little in the line of the previous point, although it also has to do with the next one. When we make lever movements, when we have the bar at the top, we practically do not make force, since the weight becomes “in balance” with the arm, resting the weight on the joint of the elbow and shoulder, making that final moment in which we make the maximum contraction, does not have a force to fight against and do their work.

 

With the bands, this final moment is the one in which we have more force against, since it is when the band is more stretched, and therefore this maximum contraction of the muscle will be the moment where more force is exerting the band. But let’s talk more about this in point 3.

 

3 – Progressive load during the movement: The more you go up, the more it “weighs”.

 

By leverage**, or by weakness of some parts of the muscle with respect to others (as a general rule, the extended muscle has less strength than the contracted muscle), in most exercises we are weaker at the beginning of the movement (beginning of the biceps curl, with the arm stretched), than at the end (end of biceps curl, contracted). This is why, when we do not manage to do a repetition, in most cases we stay at the beginning or in the middle of it, because if we raise the bar to more than half of the movement, where we are stronger, or where it pulls less because of the lever effect, we usually complete it easily and quickly. This is also why in the last repetitions we take 3 or 4 seconds to climb to the half dying, and in the second half, we raise the bar instantly and with much less effort.

 

With weights, you fight against gravity, and gravity is constant. You’ll always be fighting 9.8 Newton for every kilo of weight you lift. This means that you will be defeating the same strength in the weakest moment of the muscle (initial, arm stretched, when it costs more for the weakness of the muscle and the leverage effect increasing) than in the strongest (final, contracted, when it costs less for being the strongest muscle and the leverage effect decreasing).

 

This creates a bottleneck at the start of the movement, making you not work as hard as you could since you can only carry as much weight as the weak part can lift, being able to carry more weight on the strong part (you can do half repetitions, but it is more interesting and beneficial to use full ranges of movement). In addition, you are also always loading the weakest part of the muscle to the maximum, which could injure you.

 

This doesn’t happen with bands. The more the stretches, the more force they exert to return to their original state, so at the beginning of the movement they are easier, and as the stretches become harder, making it possible to work with more load the strong part of the movement than the weak part.

 

Clarification for those who have not understood me before. At the beginning of the movement, you have tension, being able to adjust this to all that can lift the weak part of the muscle exactly the same as with weights. The advantage is that, as you increase the tension as you stretch the band, you have more tension in the strongest part of the muscle. To put it another way, instead of lifting 15kg on the weak part and 15kg on the strong part (weight bottleneck on the weak part), you can lift 15kg on the weak part and 18-20kg on the strong part.

 

This adjustment of the movement difficulty curve with the natural strength curve of your muscle is one of the great advantages of the bands over the weights. You avoid overloading the weak part (injuries) and underloading the strong part (bottleneck), and optimize the tension by using the full range of motion.

 

**(The greater the distance between the support point (in the case of the biceps curl, the vertical of the elbow joint) and the opposite force (vertical of the weight), the greater the force exerted on the other end of the lever (the biceps). Do not confuse with the distance between the elbow and the weight, which is obviously always the same, but the distance between its verticals, or “projections”. With the weight down the distance between both verticals would be 0 (they are inline), with the weight in the middle of curl, the distance would be maximum, and from here this distance would be reduced again until the arm is up.)

 

4 – Working angles and grips: You choose them, not gravity or bar.

 

With weights, you’re “doomed” to gravity. The force you fight against is something that pulls the weight downwards, always downwards, and only downwards, which limits the exercises a lot because to work the muscle you can only pull in one direction: upwards. This makes us need benches, machines, pulleys, different types of bars, etc.. To be able to work the different parts of the body, especially if you want to do it from different angles (press inclined, declined or straight, different heads of biceps and triceps, etc.) and with different load.

 

With the bands forget, because the direction of the force is what you choose by placing the band wherever and however you want, since it is the band itself and its tendency to return to its initial position that exerts a force on which you are fighting, and therefore you are the one who will choose the plane and angle of work when anchoring the band and place your body with respect to it.

 

You can step on it with your foot, anchor it to a door or a post at low, medium or high height, or take it with your hands and place it behind your back to do push-ups, etc.. You can place yourself in front of it, behind it, underneath it, above it, etc. And in each combination of these, you will be using a different working plane and angle. This opens the infinity of options that with a dumbbell, you don’t have.

 

In addition, you have the advantages of different bars and grips (z bar for curl, hexagonal bar for dead weight, V grip for triceps, etc.) that make the movements more convenient for your joints, since you can take the band as you want, and do not have a metal bar that presses you and prevent you from placing your arms as convenient for the exercise (as in dead weight with bar vs. hexagonal bar, which has the weight in front vs. below in your center of gravity).

 

In addition, you can change this grip as you go along, starting an exercise in pronation, and finishing it in supination (with this you get a maximum contraction). It also facilitates the famous “gesture of breaking the bar” to perform some exercises in a more optimized and less harmful (for example, in press bench, the gesture of external rotation to protect the shoulder joint).

 

 

5 – Safety: You do not need help/spotter for loaded exercises or negative repetitions.

 

With weights, when you load a lot, start the kangaroo. You need spotter, help, or at least that there is someone in the gym in case something happens, because basically, you can break things, injure yourself when you drop a disc on your foot or face, and in the worst case, die from crashing or falling the bar to your neck with 125kg when the last press bench repetition fails.

 

Even without carrying so much and having resources and techniques to avoid the worst, do press banking yourself at home, and prepare for a scare every time you do not raise the bar. Even if nothing serious happens to you, to get rid of it you’ll have to fill your belly with bruises from dragging the bar when you and your muscles are too exhausted to lift or mobile.

 

 

Also, to do eccentrics (negative repetitions), it is essential to have someone to help you with the concentric phase to raise the bar that has more weight than you can lift, and then lower it yourself with a negative repetition.

 

On the other hand, with the bands, it doesn’t matter if you load with 80 bands of 100kg each to make squats or dead weight at 1rm, what will happen is simply that you won’t be able to move them and you will fall to the floor of ass, but no weight will fall to the floor that explodes the tiles, or over you that crushes you.

 

And not only that but in many exercises, you can do negative yourself. For example, again, the biceps curl: you step on the band with your feet, you squat and contract the biceps without load taking the band as a curl. You take the air, get up with the biceps contracted, and lower your fist slowly as you release the air, making a good negative repetition. And you bend down again to repeat. Above, as we have seen in point 3, the greater load you will notice above all, and when it becomes more difficult to keep the descent speed at the minimum, at the end (part of the weakest muscle, and overtired at the end of the slow repetition), will be slightly easier, so you can maintain the stability of the negative. You have to try it, if you catch the right point of tension, feel that you shit.

 

 

6 – Comfort and portability: Train at home or in the mountains. During the day or at dawn. No room fitted out as a gym.

 

What for many will be the determining factor, since they can´t or do not want to move to the gym?

 

As they do not occupy anything and are not dangerous for your floor, you can use them whenever you want at home even without having a room fitted out as a gym and without making a fuss with the blows of the weights. And for this last one, of needing it due to your work schedules, you can even make the exercise of dawn without waking up to the neighbors, or even, depending on what you do, without waking up to your partner, family or companions of the floor. You only have to clear the room a little when you start and keep them in a drawer when you finish.

 

And not only that. As they don’t weigh or occupy anything, you can put them in your backpack, and you can take them to the beach and tie them to a volleyball pole, and swell your biceps before starting the walk on the sand to show off your heart of palm. Or go to the park, tie them to the swing and paddle while you watch your kids play. Or go to the mountain and tie them to the branch of a tree and start pull-downs in the middle of nature, etc.. In addition they are ideal for trips, you can work the whole body without needing anything else from a hotel room when you are sent to another city of work.

 

 

 

 

Other advantages

 

This is the most “text”, but there are many more interesting advantages (and many that don’t come to mind right now).

 

– Diversity of rubber grips –> less joint damage.

 

– Price: They are quite cheap, their price is around 4-30 pounds, everything depends on the resistance you want. They also sell quite cheap packs.

 

– Security: 200 kg of iron will not fall on the dog or your nephews when they come to your house and start messing with your things.

 

– Combination: You can use them with other tools for various uses. In calisthenics, you tie them to the bar and put them on your feet to “push yourself up” as if you weigh 30 kilos less when you can’t do 2 consecutive dominations, but you want to practice the technique (they can be used to help you in any exercise, with imagination and an anchorage). You can also use them to overload some exercises. With weights, even in powerlifting, to carry more of the final part of the movement (same as with chains) or less of the initial part (they would be hooked up in a cage), etc…

 

Tips

 

Here I’ll be giving advice that I find necessary or useful and I’ll come up with it.

 

– It is essential to get some good gloves. Flat bands fuck up your hands a lot more than bars. One of the big disadvantages of the bands.

 

– Take care of the bands to avoid that they break and give you a whip. For many is his great concern, although I assure you that it is nothing usual that happens (also, I still find it much more likely and dangerous that you drop the bar in the neck …). If you don’t do the donkey and you keep them more or less well, nothing will ever happen to you, but to cure you in health, some advice.

 

NEVER stretch them more than 3 times their size, or when you notice that, suddenly, they stop stretching as before (as if there was a stop). That indicates its elastic limit, which in a metallic spring means that it deforms, but in a band means that it will break if you keep stretching.

 

Try to avoid anchoring them to “hard things that can fuck them up”. I wouldn’t know how to specify it, but if for example, you’re going to anchor them to a rusty metal post with irregularities that could erode or even cut the rubber, you’d better put the shirt underneath so that it pads or something. I use a piece of “pool churro” to protect it by anchoring it to a mast I have on the balcony. If small punctures are made in the rubber, compromising its integrity, it will jump you long before its elastic limit. For this reason, do not wash them with chemicals or anything that can “eat” the rubber. Only with water.

 

DO NOT LEAVE THEM IN THE SUN. The rubber expands with heat. Store them in a cool, sunless place. From time to time, look for cracks, areas with a different color, etc. If you see that without stretching or when stretching a little there are areas with cracks or that change color much more than the rest, danger.

 

– Write down your progression in each exercise. Another disadvantage is that with the flat ones it is more complicated to have a strict follow up of your progression than with the weights. You can go to sensations and train “for fun” and progress like that, but if you want to do it strictly is more complicated. I recommend that you sign up in a notebook, or application, or wherever, the band you use for each exercise, and the height (approximate or exact) to which you stretch it.

 

 

Basic advice on bodybuilding with elastic bands

 

A final note for beginners who have never seen a dumbbell or done any bodybuilding. I leave your advice on what you have to do to maximize hypertrophy, according to studies and everything I have learned so far in the field.

 

– Train 2-3 times a week each muscle, letting it rest 48 hours between each time you train it. 2 examples, full-body Monday-Tuesday-Wednesday, or PUSH-PULL-LEG-PUSH-PULL-LEG-REST.

 

– Do 10-15 weekly series per muscle (10 if you are starting, 15 if you are more advanced). Never reach 20. These series should be divided equally between the 2 or 3 weekly workouts, doing 15 in the same workout is counterproductive. What I give you are OPTIMUM numbers if you do 18 series per muscle per week when you are a beginner will not help you anymore, on the contrary, you will have too much muscle damage, and you will go backward, and you still have to skip workouts because you are too sore. Same with too many series per workout.

 

– Do 6-12 repetitions per series. In the beginning, 10-12 is better to learn the technique. In each series, you must come close to the failure (when you can only do 1 more repetition). To get to the fault or close, obviously, you will have to use the right load, so learn which is the right band and initial stretch length to get to this area in each exercise (this is the most fucked up with bands).

 

– Use composite movements. Press bench, oar, squats, dips, dominated, military press, etc. And to avoid at the beginning those of isolation (curl biceps, ext. triceps, openings, etc.). Again, I tell you the OPTIMUM, it is not typical of “do less, advance slower at first, then you will run”, but it is optimal to grow as fast and better at first.

 

– Rehearse” the exercises. Before moving a finger, read a lot, and watch videos explaining the technique of movement. After that, rehearse without weight or with the minimum weight. It is essential to have the correct technique to stimulate the muscles correctly and to the maximum. Again, it is not a “be careful at the beginning” tip, it is necessary to improve optimally and faster.

 

– Sleep MINIMUM of 8 hours a day. When we sleep is when we “grow”.

 

 

SCIENTIFIC STUDIES:

 

-Improves functional and hormonal deterioration associated with age, high blood pressure, and poor body composition:

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/31663986

 

-Improves glycemic control in type 2 diabetes:

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/24845604

 

-Reduces fat mass and increases bone mineral density:

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/28084062

 

-Improves cognitive function:

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/27396580

 

-It is also applicable to the improvement of sports performance:

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/23669815

 

 

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