The One Clear Advantage of Elastic Resistance Bands Have Over Free Weights

A friend was showing off and made the comment to me, “you don’t get this by pulling rubber bands!”

Ah, he’s young, what does he know?  Actually quite a bit.  And when it comes to building muscle, ain’t nuthin betta than free weights, brah!

The other night, after the store closed, I was making my last rounds.  When I got to the sporting department, I decided to grab a 25lb hex dumbbell and do some curls.  Did 2 sets of 20 reps – no biggie, just get a pump going.

Man, it felt great. Even with only 25lbs, the feel of it in my hand was tremendous, as I curled it up and down.

You can’t get that feeling or replicate it on resistance bands or machines!

But…

I’m not – in a million years – going to suggest that resistance bands are as good as free weights.

But…

Having used it for awhile now (not as consistently over the past 9 monts as I would have like – with gout and all the other distractions), I can say that it works for me.  I get what I want.

Mostly, I get a darn good workout and great sweat going in about 30 minutes.  I spent 65 bucks  on Bodylastics set 9 months ago and I am still getting great workouts with it, at my own pace and timing.  Takes up no space, safe to have around, and beats going to the gym.

Still, it’s not free weights.

That said, resistance bands do have this one advantage that I think is big.

It is the opposite of free weights.

Free weights are gravity dependent.  Elastic resistance bands are gravity free.  And that is nice.

That means versatility.  That means freedom from joint pain (oh, sweet, baby, sweet).  That means tons of exercise variations.

For example, for my biceps I basically now do only two movement.  Either I hook the door anchor to the top of the door frame and do spider curls.  The position natural keeps the arms perpendicular to my body throughout the movement, replicating the spider curl. 

 Or, I hook the anchor to the bottom.  I step away from the door until my arms straight and hands are about 2 ft out from the body.  From that position, I can do full range of motion preacher curls.  Again, because the bands are free from gravity, I can maintain the position, replicate the movement, and focus on the biceps.

Without a spider bench or preacher bench!

I do shoulder pulls for my side delts.  I hook the door anchor to the top.  I grab handles and step back until about 6 ft or so  which stretches the bands and my arms are straight out.  No real tension in the bands.  My hands are about 3 inches apart and eye level.  I pull my elbows back and pull out with my hands so that in the finish position my hands have about a 2ft spread and are back by the shoulders.  My elbows are slightly higher than my delts.  The burn and ache in my side delts are brutal.

Again, this movement doesn’t hurt my shoulders or my arm joints because of no gravity.  All I feel is my side delts working.

Movements like inverted chest flyes (my term), standing rear delt laterals, rows, angled tricep pressdowns are all variations that can be done only because gravity is not an issue.

More to the point, the lack of gravity really lets you focus on the movement and muscle.  And for those of us with joint pain – this gravity free element is a serious winner.

All things consider, I will probably not ever go back to free weights or the gym.  I’m a few months from 50 with 2 little ones (started late), and I’d much rather workout 30 minutes at home for 3 or 4 times a week then head to the gym for an hour and a half per session.  I’d much rather get in a decent workout with a system that weighs a few pounds and fits inside a small bag, then a great workout with a couple hundred pounds of weights, bars, bench, and whatever lying around for my girls to hurt themselves on.

Work out, shower, and read a story to my girls versus drive, work out, shower, drive, and not read a story to my girls.

Decisions and priorities we all need to make.

Plus, my Bodylastics set cost me less than 65 bucks shipped to me in Hawaii – I’m cheapo, I love that.

By the way, I had planned on posting some more recent progress pics (past pics are here) but the official website photographer took the 3 year old and went to Korea (darn her!) a few days ago.  And her assistant (my 6 year) is still perfecting her photography craft (you know, pictures of my kneecap, my bald spot, etc).  Maybe I can use a timer or something.

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