Preparation for a Band Workout - dummies

By LaReine Chabut

Bands are particularly helpful if you want to keep up your strength and work out when you travel. You can’t very well lug around a complete set of dumbbells in your suitcase.

Bring along your training tools: band, tube, and stretch strap. Even if you’re booked into a hotel that has a gym, you’ll be happy to have carry-on “weights” and something to help you stretch. This way, you can easily keep up with your training and stay in shape, no matter what time zone or situation you’re in.

Make sure that you use a band designed for exercising. Exercise bands cost next to nothing. You can purchase a set of three bands for less than $10 or one exercise tube for approximately $15, depending on the level of resistance (heavier resistance bands or tubes are more expensive), from manufacturers such as SPRI or Gaiam.

Buy tubing with cords or plastic or padded handles attached if you want to splurge. The handles make holding an end in one or both hands much easier. Tubing with handles may come in handy in such exercises as the band biceps curl.

The handles aren’t practical for exercises (such as the band butt blaster) that require tying your band in a circle; however, manufacturers do make figure-eight style and circular tubing that works well for these exercises. Because bands are inexpensive, invest in several.

[Credit: Photograph by Zoran Popovic]
Credit: Photograph by Zoran Popovic

The figure shows an outer-thigh lift being performed with a band.

In general, the shorter and/or the thicker the band, the harder it is to pull and the more resistance it provides. Bands come in several different shapes:

  • Circular

  • Figure eight

  • Flat and wide

  • Tubes (resembling surgical tubes)

Wear weight-training gloves when you use exercise bands to increase comfort for your hands.

Experiment with different shapes, sizes, and thicknesses to determine which band you like best for each exercise. The longer the band, the better, to help increase your exercise options. You can always choke up on the band to make the resistance harder. Have all your bands within reach as you begin your workout so you don’t waste time hunting under the couch for the right one.

It’s a good idea to keep all your exercise equipment in one place, such as a basket in the corner of the room.

You’re almost ready for your band workout. First, here are some tips for working out with bands:

  • Make sure that the band is securely in place before each set.

  • If an exercise calls for you to hold the end in each hand (and your band doesn’t have handles), loop the ends loosely around the palms of your hands. Leave a little slack so as you pull on the band the rubber doesn’t tighten up around your hand and cut off the circulation to your fingers.

  • If an exercise calls for you to stand on the band with your feet together, place both feet on the center of the band and then step one foot out to the side so that you have about 6 inches of band between your feet. This stance prevents the band from sliding out from under you.

Bands are meant to be stretched and used for exercises. That doesn’t mean that they last forever. Occasionally, your bands need replacing. Follow these suggestions for maintaining bands and knowing when to chuck the old ones and buy new:

  • Frequently check for holes and tears by holding your band up to a light. If you find even the slightest tear, replace the band immediately, because it can break at any moment and may snap back at you.

  • If you use the flat bands frequently and on sweaty skin, periodically rinse them in clean water, towel or drip dry, and store in a resealable plastic bag with a little baby powder. Just shake off the powder before your next use.