Resistance bands are a terrific, lightweight workout tool ideal for travel and on-the-go workouts. Most workout bands are made of latex or latex alternatives. However, what makes them so flexible is also their weakness. Bands composed of a single sheet or tube will eventually tear and break, necessitating a replacement. There is a new band style, where the band is composed of braided or twisted smaller bands attached to handles. These are much more durable and thus a great excuse to update your workout gear.
Bands come in different resistances. The color of the middle band in the three- or four-strand braid is a guide to the band resistance. Lighter colors like yellow, red, green, and tan indicate a smaller resistance. The bands that have dark blue, black, medium blue, purple, and silver generally have heavier resistance. If you are color blind or otherwise visually impaired, look at the diameter of the colored band. The larger the diameter of the colored band, or the thicker it is, the heavier and more resistant it is.
Light and Medium Bands
These bands are ideal for arm and shoulder workouts. For example, an excellent warm up is to use the bands for shoulder shrugs and rotator cuff exercises. To work the rotator cuff, simply stand with the middle of the band under both feet, lift the handles to about chest height, bend the elbows close to a 90-degree angle, and keep the elbows close to the trunk. Then swing the forearms away from the trunk at a slow and controlled cadence. The resistance of the band will provide excellent conditioning for the rotator cuff complex.
Heavy Resistance Bands
These bands are especially suited for leg and back workouts, and they also make an abdominal workout even more challenging. For example, lie on a mat with the band under the arch of both feet. While holding the handles, keep them positioned near each hip, and lift both legs slightly off the floor. Perform a reverse crunch by bringing the knees toward the chest and then extending the legs back out to almost straight. Don't let the feet touch the floor.
Check your bands for rips or holes or damage due to abrasive activity. Discard any bands that are damaged. Don't over-stretch your bands and don't shorten them. Buy an assortment of different sizes for different exercises. And most importantly, don't do an exercise that you feel isn't safe; even if your instructor tells you to.