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How to Build Muscle Strength with Resistance Bands

Yuri Elkaim, BPHE, CK, RHN

 

Recently I was asked if resistance bands could be used to build strength and muscle size similarly to dumbbells. Here is what was asked…

“Hi Yuri, I’ve watched all of your YouTube videos on different types of exercises.

I would like to ask you if it’s possible to build muscle using a resistance band (just like you can with weights)?

I'm a frequent traveler who wants to sculpt my body but i can only travel with the resistance bands. Any suggestions of how to get ripped using such exercise bands or is it possible? I hope you can tell me as you are a pro in this. Million thanks, Elvis.”

Well Elvis, the answer to your question is yes!

I recommend using resistance bands for several reasons.

First, using resistance bands is a great way to develop strength. A growing body of research is showing that “accommodating resistance”, a phenomenon whereby the band’s tension becomes more challenging at your muscles’ strongest length (or angle), is a tremendous way of developing muscular strength.

For instance, performing a biceps curl with a resistance band is far more challenging than using dumbbells. This is due to the fact that as you raise the band it becomes more taut, creating more tension and work in the biceps muscle.

In general, as you lengthen the band it creates more resistance. So it’s almost like starting the movement with 10 lbs dumbbell and finishing it with a 30 lbs dumbbell, as an example. The constant pull of the band creates an ever-growing amount of tension making any muscular movement challenging throughout.

Second, as the resistance band is stretched it stores a tremendous amount of “recoil” or kinetic energy, much like a outstretched spring. The natural tendency then would be for the band to “snap” back to original length, much like a rubber band that has been stretched. This provides an incredible eccentric or “negative” load on the working muscles that can produce amazing gains in strength.

So the combination of increasing tension and intrinsic eccentric properties make the resistance band an amazing workout tool for developing muscular strength and size.

However, it is important to progressively use tauter bands as you become stronger. Just like using a 10 lbs dumbbell forever will force you to plateau and realize no further strength gain, so too will a band of similar tension. As you get stronger move onto a tougher more resistant band. Progression and overload are 2 important aspects of any training program and need to be implemented for maximum gains in strength and muscular growth.

Here is a resistance band workout that is great for doing at home, while you travel, or even in the gym. Watch this video to learn how to perform each movement:

 

*For each exercise, complete as many reps as you can in 30 seconds.

1. Squat Presses

2. Resisted Step-ups with Biceps Curls

3. Lateral Lunge with Diagonal Chop

3. Resisted Crunches (on stability ball)

4. Reverse Lunge with Back Row

5. Standing Alternating Chest Press

6. Squat Sit with 1-Arm Back Row

 

 

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