For this month’s fitness challenge, we’re going to take on a staple of travel and at-home workouts: the versatile resistance band.
You’ve probably seen them: they’re strips or tubes of rubber, and when you try to stretch them, they put up some resistance. Literally. The thicker the band, the harder you have to work to stretch it. (Many brands will colour-code the different levels of resistance, so you can tell the bands apart, but there’s no universal code for what each colour means.)
We’ll include exercises each week that can use whatever type of band you have, but if you’re just starting out, here are the basic shapes and sizes you’re likely to encounter:
Thin, flat sheets of rubber. To use these, you just hold or step on the end, or tie it to something.
Thin, flat loops of rubber, roughly shaped like an infinity scarf. To use these, you can loop them around your hand, foot, or an object. Or you could hold them like you would the sheet type.
Thick, rope-like loops. You can use these like the thin loops, but they’re also perfect for assisting exercises like pull-ups. (Loop the rope around the bar, then put your foot in the dangling end.)
Rope-like bands with handles or clips on the end. Attach the clips together to get a loop, or attach handles for a comfortable grip.
All resistance bands can wear out over time, so if you have old ones, check that they’re not beginning to crack or deteriorate. (They can snap mid-exercise, and take it from me that sucks.)
We’ll be back next week with some specific exercises to try, but for now, just get to know your bands. Check out this chart of exercises for ideas, or just google your favourite exercise plus the word “resistance bands”—there’s usually a way to do any dumbbell or cable exercise with bands instead. Happy experimenting!