Resistance bands used to be wimpy little things that people used for “toning” and rehab after injury but in the last decade they have come a LONG way. Now, no matter how strong or big you are, you can find a resistance band that challenges you. The beauty of resistance bands, lets enumerate!
- Durable. The good modern bands are made of very thick synthetic rubber and unless you store them in the sun where UV will destroy them, they will give you decades of reliable service. The ones I have are quite typical of this modern breed of bands and they are thick, probably a full 1/4″ thick (6mm) and vary in width from 1/4″ to 3″ for the seriously strong.
- Versatile. Unlike many exercise equipment like leg curl machines and ab wheel which just have one single use, the resistance band can be used to workout virtually every single body part.
- Easy to store. Complete home gyms take up half a room and are virtually permanent. Even things like an bench press station take up the same amount of room and are equally impractical for those who want home gyms with limited space. Resistance bands on the other hand you can just fold up and put in your top drawer!
- Easy to transport. Just as they are easy to store, they are easy to pack in carry on airline luggage. Even on when I am on multi-week bike treks and luggage is at a premium I will bring one band. You don’t need your entire assortment, after a bit of use you will figure out which one is useful for the most exercises.
Where to buy good resistance bands
I have a full set of resistance bands but the one I take for travel is actually one of the smaller ones. The reason is that while traveling, I can hit the big upper body muscles like pecs and lats with bodyweight exercises, all I need the resistance bands for is the smaller muscles like biceps, triceps, and shoulders. I have have the WODfitter resistance bands and am very happy with their quality, here they are with weakest ones first:
If you are really strong, take the black one for this workout, otherwise, the red one is probably a better choice. The price ranges from $15 to $40 depending on the size. Yes, they are expensive for “just some bands” but the big ones have a LOT of rubber in them and its worth it for quality because the last thing you want is 5 pounds of rubber breaking and becoming a window-breaking projectile. Note that there are a lot of choices now on Amazon. I would say that as long as the pound rating is the same and they look the same and have at least 500 4/5 star ratings then they are fine to get. When I got mine years ago, WODfitter was the only one making good ones but now there are a lot of cheaper knock-offs. Make sure the ones pictured below and are big and flat. Anything else will not provide an acceptable amount of resistance to workout.
Why resistance bands are better than weights!
IMO squeezing exercises are far more important than pushing exercises for building massive pecs. Its really easy to find pushing pec exercises to do while traveling or at home but what is a lot more challenging is finding a way to do these all important mass building squeezing exercises and the APF is even more important for building chest mass than exercises like cable flys or dumbbell flys for reason I will go into in a moment.
What I prefer is the two band pec fly. First of all, dont stress if you dont have two identical bands, it doesnt matter. Just do four sets and alternate which hand is holding the big band and it all evens out. About the attach points, the chance of you finding two trees or poles exactly the right distance apart is zero but this is what separates us from animals – our ability to use tools. When I travel I always carry both bands and TRX and it just happens that a TRX can be used as an adjustable length rope so I’ve used it on one side and on the other side used the yellow anchor strap from the TRX. You can also just use a rope!
In my opinion, resistance band flys are more important than pec deck, cable flies, TRX flies, or dumbbell flys for building chest mass, heres why. To maximize building muscle mass we need to hit each muscle from as many ways as possible, right. Thats why we do incline and decline press in addition to bench press. Same thing with flys. In the gym people do cable flys or dumbbell flies or TRX flies. All these exercises are basically the same – max effort is with the arms out to the side and the resting position is with the arms out in front of you. Thats one way to hit the pec, what about the other? The maximum load when the arms are in front of you and the minimum load when they are out to the side. You gotta work your pecs that way too and most of you never have. The other reason resistance band flys are superior for building mass is that the shoulder is strongest and least prone to injury because least load is applied when the shoulder is most vulnerable to injury which is out to the sides.
Resistance Band Workouts
I am in the process of adding a bunch of these, here is my first hotel room travel workout