Top athletes such as Virat Kohli and Usain Bolt love resistance band-based workouts, but how effective are they?
From cricketer Virat Kohli — probably the fittest cricketer ever from India, to tennis ace Novak Djokovic — known for his killer workout regime, resistance band-based workouts have made their way to top athletes’ workout regimes. Here’s the low-down on their advantages and downsides.fitness Updated: Mar 13, 2018 12:02 IST
Ever wondered what is the common denominator in the workout regimes of Serbian tennis player Novak Djokovic, distance runner Mo Farah, and our very own cricketers Shikhar Dhawan, Virat Kohli, and Hardik Pandya? Resistance band-based workouts is the answer. They are affordable, multifunctional and have been long popular with top athletes and sports teams such as London-based football club Chelsea FC and Manchester United, to name a few.
However, according to fitness experts Mohan Suyant from Ruffit, Ilu Singh and Sahil Kumar, it’s only now that the average fitness enthusiast is realising the benefits of working out with resistance bands. Experts attribute this shift to a new wave of super-fit and agile Indian cricketers.
Here’s an expert guide on resistance band-based workouts, including a few things to keep in mind.
What are resistance bands?
They are strong elastic bands that have handles at each end. The bands come in a variety of types, lengths, and tensions. You can opt for one depending on your fitness level and requirements. As the name suggests, these bands work by providing resistance against the direction of your applied force. Using resistance bands stimulates both your muscles as well as bones, something not possible when using weights. They were initially used in injury rehabilitation because they are easy on the joints and tendons; in fact, they build joint strength, flexibility and help in dealing with muscle shakiness (muscle trembling after injury).
Portability: Being very light and easy-to-carry, resistance bands are perfect for people with a busy schedule.
Diversity and price effectiveness: Certain exercises require specific equipment (bench and shoulder presses require weights). However, this is not the case with resistance bands, which can be used to do a range of rows, pulldowns, flies, curls, and yes, even chest and bench presses. Their flexible nature also allows you to add a dash of creativity to your workout. To top it all, some varieties are super-affordable, and start from as low ₹300.
Strength building: While lifting weights offers constant resistance, bands get you ascending resistance. Ascending resistance increases your range of motion and forces high stabilisation, which prevents injury. Resistance bands also require the body to increase force, thus effecting an overall increase in strength.
Easy on the joints: Using weights all the time could be the reason why our joints get compressed and unstable, leading to injuries. Unlike weights, resistance bands are not gravity-dependent, hence they don’t harm our joints in the long run. This is the reason why they are highly recommended for injury rehabilitation.
Total workout with core stability: Weight training only works specific muscles at a given time. However, this is not the case with resistance bands. When you train with the band, your body trains as an entire kinetic chain, which means while working out you stabilise your entire core. Hence, resistance bands offer more benefits in totality compared to weights.
What to keep in mind
Train under guidance: Bands can quickly break if one doesn’t know how to use them. Initially, training under guidance is advised.
One-size-doesn’t-fit-all: Before buying, check that the length and strength suit your fitness levels. Without the right elasticity, the band can snap, causing injury.
Not for body builders: If serious muscle gain is your only goal, resistance bands won’t help you. Training with these bands does help in muscle building, but not as much as weight training does. The primary function of resistance bands is to increase muscle and joint strength.
You can’t do compound exercises: Compound exercises, such as squats, deadlifts, bench presses, which impact multiple muscle groups, cannot be done with resistance bands. They should be done separately to ensure you’re working towards all-round fitness.