It doesn’t take much to demand a lot of your body and yourself with strength training. Anyone who knows functional training knows that even the smallest training devices can provide an enormous range of exercise possibilities, with constantly changing training stimuli. Good training devices are generally small, light and mobile. And they offer maximum variation, meaning a huge range of exercises, variations and progressions, all of this adding up to ultimate flexibility in adjusting the training specifically to your needs.
This is of particular interest when it comes to strength training or resistance training. Of course, dumbbells, kettlebells and barbells are all tried and tested training devices that have been used for centuries to deliver rapid results. Where they fail though is in the area of being light and mobile (do you know anyone who carries dumbbells around with them?) and they take up a lot of space too.
Alternatively, you can, to a certain extent, just use your own body weight to train. But what you really need to get the maximum benefit of a workout is external resistance.
Strength training with resistance bands
And that brings us to the actual topic of this article: How can you train in a wide variety of ways with resistance while on the move and with the option of expanding this training at any time?
The solution might just be resistance bands. I have to admit that, in the past, I seldom used this sort of training device in my workouts, generally just for mobility drills or to do running A’s (‘high knees’) with a partner. For resistance training, however, these rubbery things have not yet been a part of my regime. And that’s a shame really. Since the boss developed the new alphaband resistance bands, I’ve been more or less forced to deal with this topic. And now I’m asking myself, ‘What was keeping me back?’.
Resistance bands, assisted pull-up bands, powerbands – whatever you want to call them, an entire gym in your bag is what they really are.
All you need is:
- one or two bands of varying resistances
- yourself and
- optionally, a place to attach the band.
That’s it! Well, you can also add handles and straps and buy bands in a larger variety of resistances if you want. That’s what’s so great about using resistance bands in training: everyone’s free to do as they please.
More exercises than you think
What I never really realised before was the incredible variety of exercises and variations made possible using these bands; you just have to learn how to do them. Unlike with traditional weight training, using alphabands allows you to vary the training resistance quickly and easily in every direction. Whereas a dumbbell only works with the force of gravity, a resistance band can be pushed or pulled forward, backward, upward, downward and to the side. A great advantage in terms of mobility and variability! For example, you can combine a rotational movement with a pressing movement, instantaneously in one fluid motion.
The thing about the resistance
alphabands also have fantastic training qualities, like the way the resistance increases exponentially as the band stretches, or in other words, as the distance between the two fixed points increases. This quality is particularly valuable when you want to use a wide movement in training but when, in the starting position or with certain joint angles, your muscles are at a natural low point in the strength curve. The advantage here is that, thanks to the low resistance at this point, I can start from this position with a clean, safe movement.
Then, as I move through to a point in the biomechanical strength curve where my strength is greater, the resistance increases exponentially, giving me the needed stimuli. Compare this to adding lifting chains to barbells. The weight (resistance) increases as the chain links are lifted off the floor. The more links still on the floor, the lower the resistance. This means that resistance will be lowest at my weakest point, when my knees are fully bent, and, as my legs straighten, the weight of the barbell increases in line with my increasing strength.
Is that a barbell in your pocket?
Another advantage of training with resistance bands is that they are light and take up little space, meaning I can take them with me anywhere, and with no need for an elaborate set-up either.
And the further development of the alphaband resistance bands has given them some novel features: they are antibacterial, easy to clean, made of an anti-allergenic material and offer more resistance than conventional powerbands. The resistance starts much earlier and increases faster, which in turn means that, like the bands themselves, the space required for the training is reduced to a minimum. Here, too, less is more.
Combine the band with one or two handles or a strap and I can go through all the basic moves in a workout sequence. Here are a few examples:
So, this can be done with a pushing exercise or a pull and twist move.
Your legs get a workout, too.
So inconspicuous, so variable
To sum it all up, resistance bands are a much-undervalued training device. Until now, I also saw them as just a supplement to specific exercises like pull-ups or push-ups, or as a mobility tool. But now I can say with confidence, they can do a lot more. You just have to try a little and give them a chance. And then it can be as simple as this: a couple of resistance bands and about three square metres of room to train. That’s all you need for strength training!
If you are looking for a complete strength training solution, we highly recommend our alphaband PRO set. It comes with all 5 resistance bands and the Double handle, which allows for single or double hand action as well as the anchor sling with integrated door anchor – all pre-installed and ready to go. All bands can be combined into one carabiner so you can easily generate up to 150kg of resistance from something delivered in a small sack and that weighs less then 1kg. This is unbeatable!
So, with that in mind –