A great way to vary your free weights routine involves working with elastic bands.
Elastic bands are available in different forms and sizes. There are tubes, and flat bands. The tubes or elastic bands are round and usually come with handles whereas the bands are flat. I will use the term bands to indicate both.
Bands have various colors to indicate thickness such as light, medium and heavy. Please visit a sporting goods store so that you can experiment with bands and see which one works for you.RELATED: RECOMMENDED PLANS FOR YOU
Tubes are usually good for pulley exercises and bands are used for anchoring. I use a set of elastic bands that have anchoring attachments for doors, ankles, arms, plus it indicates the amount of weight in pounds. Bands are great when used in conjunction with free weights.
One of the great things about elastic bands is that they are portable which means that you can take them with you on vacations or business trips. You can use them in your hotel room if there isn’t a gym on the premises.
Free weights and elastic bands are great for providing counterforce, variable speed of movement (you can go fast or slow), and an increase of resistance by adding weight or choosing a thicker band.
Free weights work with gravity and are best used in a vertical plane (up and down) whereas elastic bands can effectively mimic the types of things that are done in everyday life and can be moved in various directions (up, down, across).
Elastic bands can be used to practice a baseball or golf swing in the horizontal plane to gain strength. Athletes and runners, particularly sprinters can gain strength and power by attaching special bands to their thighs when running.
Bands also provide continuous tension to the muscles that are being worked on.
For example when doing a biceps curl with free weights, resistance would be felt at the beginning of the curl up to the midpoint where the elbow bends at 90 degrees and then gravity would take over as the weight is being curled toward the shoulder.
With the elastic band, tension is increased as the curl gains momentum since there is more resistance at the top of the curl due to the elastic being stretched. This also stimulates the growth of more muscle fibers.
Another great thing about elastic bands is that you can control the amount of tension applied to each exercise. In the biceps curl exercise the feet can be widened when standing on the band for more resistance
Physical therapists utilize elastic bands in their therapy sessions with patients and recommend that certain exercises be performed at home to aid in the recovery of a particular area, reduce pain and increase range of motion.
Split Squat Lunges
Hamstring Curls with Ankle Bands
Bent Over Rows
Standing Shoulder Press
Standing Chest Press
Bicep Concentration Curl
Front and Lateral Shoulder Raises
External Shoulder Rotation
Internal Shoulder Rotation
Hamstring Dead Lifts
Front Lunge with Chest Pull
Squat with Push Press