Think resistance bands are just about saving space? Or that they’re “too easy” to score you the results you want? Think again.
Whether you’re looking to add resistance training to your regimen, or want to build on the strength gains you’ve already made, exercise bands can be a valuable tool in your muscle-building repertoire.
Resistance Bands vs. Weights
Resistance bands work the body differently than free-weights do, explains Trevor Thieme, C.S.C.S., Beachbody’s senior manager of fitness and nutrition content. Unlike dumbbells and barbells, exercise bands create constant tension throughout a movement. “In so doing, they increase the time that the working muscles are under tension,” Thieme says, adding that “time under tension” is a powerful growth stimulus. “They also alter an exercise’s resistance curve.”
The point in each rep when the exercise feels hardest is the curve’s peak. In the biceps curl, that’s typically the mid-point of the movement (when the elbow is bent 90 degrees), for example. As you bring the weights closer to your shoulders, the exercise becomes easier. “But performing the exercise with a band changes that,” says Thieme. “Not only does the band keep your muscles under constant throughout each rep, but it also maximizes the resistance at the point in each rep when it’s typically the lowest — at the top,” says Thieme.
Another key difference between free weights and resistance bands is the direction of the resistance. With barbells or dumbbells, you’re essentially limited to fighting the downward pull of gravity. But with resistance bands, that resistance can come from almost any angle. As a result, bands can challenge your muscles in unaccustomed ways, hitting the refresh button on adaptation and growth.
How to Choose Exercise Bands
If you currently belong to a gym, it’s worth checking to see if it has any resistance bands that you can try out. Or, if you’re ready to take the plunge and create your home gym, you’ll be glad to know that resistance bands are some of the most cost-effective pieces of fitness equipment that you can buy.
Flat vs. tubed exercise bands
First, consider whether you want to use flat resistance bands, tubed ones, or some combination of the two types. Flat exercise bands are simple, two-dimensional ribbons of latex, and are incredibly light, making them great space savers and travel companions. Thanks to a more equable distribution of pressure, they’re also less likely to leave red marks compared to tubes, making them ideal for any exercise in which the band will wrap around or press against a body part.
Some flat resistance bands come in loop form, allowing you to you wrap them around your knees when performing the clamshell, or your ankles when doing the lunge, for example. Others come in individual strips, and are ideal for exercises such as push-ups (although these too can be turned into a hoop with a simple knot).
Because wrapping tubed bands, which are made of dense rubber compounds, around your hands would be uncomfortable, tubed bands have handles or other attachments at each end. When performing exercises in which hand position is important (do you want an overhand, underhand, or neutral grip?), the handles are very helpful in maintaining the correct orientation. Try them for rows, biceps curls, and chest presses.
Level of resistance
When shopping for exercise bands, you’ll also want to weigh (see what we did there?) what levels of resistance you want — 5 to 15 pounds, 15 to 30 pounds, the options are almost endless. (Remember, you can always make small adjustments to a band’s resistance level by positioning yourself closer to or farther from the anchor point.)
You’ll also want to think about what you’re going to use as an anchor point for your resistance band when performing moves such as rows, presses, or chops. Do you have a pole or post around which you can loop the band? Or do you need an attachment kit to secure the band to a door?
8 Must-Try Moves Using Resistance Bands
Benefits: This staple compound move hits your upper-body’s biggest muscle (your lats), plus your traps, rotator cuffs, and rear delts.
Appears in: The 20s – Rachel’s Workouts – I Do: Strength
• Lay a resistance band on the floor, stepping your feet onto its center hip-width apart (you can loop the band around each foot if you need less slack). Hold the left handle in your right hand and the right handle in your left hand so that that the band forms an “X.”
• Keeping your back flat, core braced, and arms extended toward the floor, push your hips back and hinge forward, bending your knees slightly as you lower your torso until it’s almost parallel to the floor. This is the starting position.
• Row the handles to the sides of your ribs, squeezing your shoulder blades together at the top of the movement.
• Pause, and then lower the handles back to the starting position.
Incline/Decline Chest Press
Benefits: This one-two-punch move strengthens your chest muscles from multiple angles.
Appears in: 10 Minute Trainer – Upper Body
• Anchor a resistance band at chest height. With your back to the anchor point, hold the handles at shoulder height with your palms facing forward, and walk forward until you feel tension in the band. Step your right foot back into a staggered stance. This is the starting position.
• Keeping your core braced, extend your arms up in front of you at a 45-degree angle.
• Pause, and then slowly reverse the movement to return to the starting position. Do all of your reps, and then switch to a decline press.
• Bring the handles to the sides of your torso, and flip your hands so that your palms are facing up.
• Keeping your back flat and core braced, press the handles forward, so that your arms are angled toward the floor when fully extended.
• Pause, and then slowly reverse the movement to return to the starting position.
Alternating Shoulder Press
Benefits: In addition to helping strengthen your shoulders, this exercise will also work your triceps and emphasize core stability.
Appears in: Slim in 6 – Ramp it Up
• Lay a resistance band on the floor, stepping onto its center with your right foot, keeping your left foot behind you in a staggered stance. Grab the handles and bring them to shoulder height, palms forward, with the band running along the backs of your arms.
• Keeping your torso erect and your core braced, press the handle in your right hand directly above your shoulder until your right arm is fully extended.
• Lower it, and repeat with the handle in your left hand. Continue alternating sides.
Anterior Delt Raise With Lift
Benefits: Show the sides of your shoulders some extra love with this creative move, which includes a glute kickback to help build your backside and boost balance.
Appears in: TurboFire – Sculpt 30
• Lay a resistance band on the floor, and step onto it with your left foot slightly left of center.
• Grab a handle in each hand. Bring the right one to your right hip and raise the left one to hip level in front of you with your arm straight.
• Shift your weight onto your left leg, and touch the floor with the toes of your right foot behind you. This is the starting position.
• Keeping your back flat, abs engaged, and your left arm and right leg straight, simultaneously raise the left handle to shoulder height in front of you, and lift your right foot off the ground behind you.
• Reverse the move to return to the starting position.
• Switch sides, performing equal reps on each.
Bird Dog Press
Benefits: If regular bird dogs are no longer challenging enough, take your core and glute work to the next level with the addition of a resistance band.
Appears in: 21 Day Fix Extreme – Pilates
• Lay a resistance band on the floor, and step your feet hip-width apart onto its center. Loop the right end of the band around your right arch and repeat with the left.
• Grab the handles, and get on all fours, with your hands directly under your shoulders, and your knees under your hips. The band should run along the outsides of your legs.
• Keeping your back flat and core braced, extend your right arm in front of you and your left leg behind you.
• Slowly reverse the move to return to the starting position, and repeat for reps.
• Do all of your reps, switch sides, and repeat.
Benefits: With this variation, you’ll maintain constant tension in your biceps for the entire set, increasing your burn and muscle-building potential.
Appears in: The 20s – Rachel’s Workouts – I Do: Strength
• Lay a resistance band on the floor, and assume a staggered stance with your right foot on the center of the band. Grab a handle in each hand, and raise them in front of you with your elbows at your sides until there is tension in the band. This is the starting position.
• Keeping your elbows tucked, curl the handles toward your shoulders as far as you can.
• Pause, and then return to the starting position. Switch legs halfway through each set.
Benefits: This triceps-strengthening exercise pulls double duty as a great core and lower-body stability drill.
Appears in: P90 – Sculpt A
• Secure a resistance band on the top of a door or anchor point of comparable height.
• Grab the handles, kneel on one knee, and straighten the other leg in front of you.
• Pull the handles to your shoulders, so that your palms face back and your elbows are by your sides. This is the starting position.
• Keeping your elbows tucked, your back flat, and your chest up, extend your arms fully, pulling the handles toward the floor. Pause, and then return to the starting position.
• Switch legs halfway through each set.
Benefits: This pilates-inspired core move rolls the advantages of a plank, a sit-up, a superman, and more all into one.
Appears in: 21 Day Fix Extreme – Pilates
• Sit on the floor with your knees bent, feet together. Place the resistance band over the tops of your feet, and then loop it around each arch, pulling the handles up between your legs.
• Bring the handles to the center of your chest (knuckles touching), lift your legs off the ground (shins parallel to the floor), and balance on your sit bones. This is the starting position.
• Keeping your back flat, abs engaged, and heels off the floor, extend your legs straight in front of you as you lower your torso to the floor.
• Extend your arms out to your sides, and then sweep them toward your knees before pulling the handles back to your chest as you raise your legs and torso to return to the starting position.
Beachbody Resistance Band Weight Levels
High on the list of questions people ask about Beachbody exercise bands is their equivalent dumbbell weights. While a lot hinges on how you use them — the shorter you make the band, the greater resistance — there are general weight thresholds associated with each color.
Using approximately three feet of band (or stepping onto the center of it), the following resistance bands are the equivalent of using the corresponding weight of dumbbell.
Teal (B1): 5 pounds
Purple (B2): 10 pounds
Pink (B3): 15 pounds
Magenta (B4): 20 pounds
Orange (B5): 25 pounds
Red (B6): 30 pounds
Yellow (B7): 35 pounds
Green (B8): 40 pounds
Blue (B9): 45 pounds
Black (B10): 50 pounds
8 Resistance Band Moves for Muscle and Strength was originally posted at <a href="https://www.beachbodyondemand.com/blog/resistance-bands-exercises" target="_blank" rel="noopener">https://www.beachbodyondemand.com/blog/resistance-bands-exercises</a> by Jordan Burchette
YES — You Can Lose Weight Without “Starving”!
The other day, one of my weight-loss clients told me that she’d been “starving” while waiting for lunchtime to come around.
Of course, she didn’t mean that she was literally starving. She was just trying to say she was feeling “especially hungry.”
But I always discourage people I work with from using that word, because — aside from being insensitive to the fact that lots of people really ARE starving — it just creates a terrible mindset for anyone who’s trying to eat purposefully and lose weight.
Whenever you say that you’re starving (even in jest), some part of you begins to panic. And that feeling of panic can lead to bad decisions — like choosing to eat the next thing in sight.
And when the next thing in sight is a bag of chips or a sugary snack — that’s a choice that won’t help you reach your weight-loss goals and probably won’t even alleviate your hunger for long.
So before switching into panic mode, I advise my clients to take a breath — and instead of saying “I’m starving,” — say “I’m okay, I’m just hungry and I need to eat something.”
I always tell them to start by drinking water first (because hunger is very often dehydration in disguise!) and to remind themselves of WHY they’re trying to lose weight.
After that, it takes them just a few extra minutes to think of a healthy, filling option that will satisfy their hunger, nourish their bodies, and still help them reach their weight-loss goals.
Remember, you’re always in control of the food you eat — that’s an amazingly liberating idea!
Learn to eat because you’re hungry — not because you’re “starving” — and you’ll take a giant step down the path to a positive weight loss and mindset.
Be sure to look for my new nutrition program — the 2B Mindset™ — available beginning May 2 on TeamBeachbody.com.
It’s a healthy approach to weight loss that shows you how to coexist with food in real-world situations, outsmart your cravings, and manage setbacks before they even occur.
Best of all, it is designed to help you feel full and satisfied after every meal — so you can lose weight happily and learn to keep it off for good.
Enter your email address below to receive Ilana’s “5 Simple Secrets To Outsmart Overeating,” plus more free weight-loss tips and updates about the 2B Mindset.
Ilana Muhlstein, M.S., R.D.N., created the 2B Mindset as a way to help herself lose 100 pounds — and keep it off — after years of unsuccessful dieting.
After becoming a Registered Dietitian Nutritionist, she refined her breakthrough approach to healthy eating into a system simple enough for everyone to learn. To date, hundreds of her private practice clients have successfully lost weight using the same powerful principles she developed for herself.
Today, she’s excited to share those secrets with anyone who wants to lose weight without feeling hungry or deprived — with the 2B Mindset.
YES — You Can Lose Weight Without “Starving”! was originally posted at <a href="https://www.beachbodyondemand.com/blog/lose-weight-without-starving" target="_blank" rel="noopener">https://www.beachbodyondemand.com/blog/lose-weight-without-starving</a> by
13 Things You Need to Know Before Starting a Weightlifting Program
Weightlifting is straightforward in theory (you just, erm…lift weights, right?). But it’s a bit more complicated in practice. As a beginner to weightlifting, it’s confusing (not to mention intimidating) to figure out which muscles to target, how much to lift, and how often to work out. How are you supposed to know where to even begin with finding a good weightlifting program?
Although it might seem daunting at first, the benefits of lifting weights far outweigh any hurdles you might have to getting started. William P. Kelley, C.S.C.S, ATC, says some major benefits of weightlifting include improved strength, bone density, and heart health. Studies even suggest that it can help keep your brain sharp, as well as increase energy levels and decrease stress.
Trevor Thieme, C.S.C.S., Beachbody’s senior manager of fitness and nutrition content, notes that lifting weights is also an effective way to lose weight: “Weightlifting can help you lose fat faster than steady state cardio because it keeps your metabolism elevated for longer post workout,” he explains. “The result is that it helps you burn more total calories.”
But before you get to enjoy all the benefits of lifting weights, you first have to get started. The first step? Creating smart goals.
What Are Your Weightlifting Goals?
“Goal-setting is critical to guiding your weightlifting path,” Kelley says. Before you even choose a weightlifting program, consider what you want to get out of it. Are you training for a specific event, for general health, or with aesthetics in mind? Do you want to lose weight, build strength, pack on muscle, or achieve a combination of any or all three of those goals?
“Each objective requires a different strategy, and by identifying your goal or goals, you can identify the most effective training program to achieve it,” Thieme says. The tips below will help you do that.
If you need some extra guidance to help you get started, check out Beachbody On Demand’s weightlifting programs, like Body Beast (which focuses on muscle building) and A Week of Hard Labor (an intense, five-day weightlifting routine). Both programs can help you achieve the lean, muscular physique you’ve always dreamed of building. (See the results for yourself!)
13 Common Questions About Starting a Weightlifting Program
These 13 questions and answers will give you the information you need to start lifting weights, including basic training tips and mistakes to avoid.
1. What equipment do I need for a weightlifting program?
If you’re starting an at-home weightlifting program, dumbbells are a necessity — but having just a single pair may not cut it.
Thieme says you need different weights to effectively challenge different muscle groups. Your legs should be able to handle heavier weights than your triceps, for example. That’s why he recommends investing in a pair of selectorized (AKA adjustable) dumbbells (like this set of Bowflex dumbbells). “A single pair of dumbbells can replace an entire dumbbell rack, saving you hundreds of dollars—not to mention lots of floor space,” he says.
A bench is another useful piece of equipment for developing overall strength and power, Kelly says, although you could get by without one if you’re short on space.
2. How much weight should I lift?
“You should always lift the heaviest amount of weight that allows you to complete all of your reps and sets for all of the exercises in your workout,” Thieme says.
If you can’t maintain proper form for the last several reps of an exercise, go lighter. If you can breeze through your reps with the last few feeling as comfortable as the first few, go heavier. The key to achieving muscle growth is to find your sweet spot, which in this case means a weight that challenges you without forcing you to sacrifice good form.
3. How many reps and sets should I do for each weightlifting exercise?
First, consider your weightlifting goals. “If you want increased strength, you should do from two to six reps per set. For hypertrophy [muscle growth] do eight to 12 reps. And for endurance, do 15 to 20 reps,” Kelley says.
As for sets, Thieme says it’s important to do multiple sets of each exercise, no matter your goal. Three sets per exercise is generally a good number, but don’t lock yourself into that. As long as you’re doing at least two and not more than five or six, you’re good. And if you want to increase your strength, build bigger muscles, and improve your muscular endurance, regularly vary the number of reps and sets you do.
“Optimal muscle growth occurs when you target both of the major muscle fiber types—I and II—and the best way achieve that is by lifting across the entire rep spectrum,” says Thieme. “Incorporate both heavy weight/low rep sets and light weight/high rep sets in your training program.”
4. Should I focus on one or two body parts a day, or do full-body workouts every time?
Both are effective strategies for packing on muscle. “The key is to work each body part or muscle group at least twice a week,” says Thieme, who suggests alternating between the two training strategies. “Do split training for two or three months, and then do total body training for two or three months.”
Your schedule is also a determining factor, Kelley notes. “If you can only work out two to three times per week, then a total body lifting program may be more efficient,” he says.
5. How many days per week should I lift weights?
How often you lift weights comes down to your goals and schedule as well, Kelley says. (Doe we sound like a broken record yet?)
“The ratio of exercise to recovery days that maximizes results and minimizes injury and overtraining risks depends largely on your current fitness level and the type, intensity, and duration of your workouts,” Thieme says. He recommends lifting a minimum of two days a week a maximum of six days.
6. Do I need to take rest days during a weightlifting program?
Yes! Giving yourself a day off from training is crucial to your weightlifting success. “Lifting days are where you [purposefully] damage muscle tissue,” Kelley says, while “rest/recovery days are when muscles repair and rebuild.” Both days are needed to become stronger.
If you don’t give yourself sufficient recovery time, you’ll sabotage your workout performance and hinder your results. “Training adaptations don’t happen during workouts, they happen between them, making recovery days just as important as training days,” says Thieme. “What people often forget is that, when it comes to exercise, more isn’t always better. You have to give your body the time it needs to respond to the training stimulus that each workout provides.”
How often you should take a recovery day depends on your fitness level, primary exercise type and intensity, age, and sleep habits, but a good rule of thumb is to take one or two rest/recovery days a week.
If you feel energized on your designated rest days, Kelley recommends active recovery activities, which facilitate blood flow to your muscles without overloading them. Yoga and light cardio (e.g., an easy jog, leisurely bike ride, or short hike) are good options. Also, don’t limit warm-up and cool-down activities to warm-ups and cool-downs. Perform dynamic stretching and foam rolling every day, regardless of whether or not you’re working out.
7. How do I avoid a muscle-building plateau?
There are numerous factors that contribute to muscle growth, but the key to achieving consistent gains is to regularly increase the challenge to your muscles, Kelley says. “By increasing the stress on a muscle through a principle called ‘progressive overload,’ you illicit changes in that muscle, including greater size, greater contraction force, and improved motor recruitment,” he explains.
Lifting progressively heavier weights isn’t the only way to do that. “Other ways to achieve progressive overload include decreasing the rest periods between sets, performing more complex exercise variations, and switching up the exercises you do,” says Thieme. “Even changing up your grip (e.g., from underhand to neutral) can increase the challenge to your muscles and trigger fresh growth.”
8. Can I do my weightlifting program and still do cardio and other workouts?
The short answer: yes. But you need to be strategic about it. “If your focus is weightlifting, then you should use cardio as a form of ‘active recovery,'” says Thieme.
If you do a heavy weightlifting session one day, and then go for an easy run the next, you can actually enhance your recovery (and results) from the weightlifting session by boosting blood flow—and the vital nutrient delivery and waste removal services it provides. “But a heavy weightlifting workout followed by a long, hard run or HIIT session the next day can do more harm than good,” says Thieme.
If you don’t allow your body sufficient time to recover between intense workouts, the only thing you’ll achieve is an increased risk of burnout and injury.
9. Will weightlifting make me bulky?
Lifting weights can cause men to become bulky if they focus solely and intensely on bodybuilding or pure strength training, Thieme explains, but this is rarely the case for women. Why? Genetics.
Men typically have a higher percentage of type II muscle fibers, which are bigger and have a higher growth potential than type I fibers. Plus, men produce more testosterone, which is critical for muscle building. “Women do not produce testosterone at high enough levels naturally to get bulky,” Kelley says, even if they’re lifting heavy amounts of weight. That said, a woman can still increase her muscle size through weightlifting if that’s her goal. “Studies also show that while most women can’t build as much muscle as most men, they can achieve similar increases in strength,” says Thieme.
10. How do I make sure I’m lifting with proper form?
Practicing correct weightlifting form is key to preventing injury and getting the results you want. The best way to guarantee good form? “Utilize a fitness professional [like a trainer] until you feel safe and confident in the staple lifts of your program,” Kelley says.
If you’re working out on Beachbody On Demand, pay attention to the trainers as they explain the correct starting stance, movement pattern, and key form points for each exercise, as well as which muscles to engage during the moves. Having a friend observe you can also help you keep your form on point.
11. How long should I follow a weightlifting program?
In general, Kelley recommends maintaining a specific weightlifting program for three to five weeks before you mix it up. “This gives the muscles time to adapt and grow in the current program; then, just as they acclimate, you tweak the program slightly to keep progressing,” he explains.
Perhaps more important than the timeline, however, is paying attention to the way your routine makes you feel. “If you haven’t increased the weight you’re lifting after a few weeks, or if you’ve noticed a significant drop in your motivation, it’s time to switch things up,” Thieme says.
Of course, if you follow a professionally designed program, like you’ll find on Beachbody On Demand, knowing when to switch things up isn’t even a concern. “Such variation is built into the program, eliminating the stress and guesswork for you,” says Thieme.
12. What should I eat before and after a workout to maximize my performance?
Before a weightlifting workout, focus on carbs, which will help top off your energy stores. The key is to choose something that you can digest before you start exercising. A piece of fruit is a good choice if you have 30 minutes or less until you work out. If your workout is still an hour out, our go-to recommendation is a piece of whole grain toast with nut butter.
Post-workout, the most important factor is protein, which can help facilitate muscle growth and speed recovery, Thieme says. Aim for 20 grams of fast-absorbing protein (like whey) within 30 minutes of exercising. A protein supplement such as Beachbody Performance Recover makes that easy.
13. How do I know if my weightlifting program is working?
To get the most accurate and objective measure of progress, Kelley suggests recording your workouts and tracking the numbers. “If you can increase the weight you lift by
13 Things You Need to Know Before Starting a Weightlifting Program was originally posted at <a href="https://www.beachbodyondemand.com/blog/weightlifting-program-questions" target="_blank" rel="noopener">https://www.beachbodyondemand.com/blog/weightlifting-program-questions</a> by Hannah Rex
Sleep Deficiency Hinders Weight Loss, So Try Better Sleep Habits
Do you wake up feeling tired? Well, you’re not alone. One in every three Americans does not get the recommended sleep needed for optimal health, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).
Sleep deficiency is known to cause weight gain, but also contributes to a whole list of more serious health issues, such as heart disease, high blood pressure, depression, and diabetes, just to name a few.
Why Sleeping Is So Important for Weight Loss
Believe it or not, each and every day the most important thing that you do all day is sleep. Yes, you heard right! Sleep quality and duration are so important that they directly affect everything else you do in life.
“We are nothing but slaves to chemical processes,” says W. Christopher Winter, MD, in an article for Livestrong.
Nearly one third of our lives are spent asleep. During sleep, it is peak time for our bodies to repair muscle and release hormones that control natural processes, including appetite. All this is being done without any conscious energy being consumed.
Consequently, a deficiency in the sleep column affects everything; more specifically, it cuts weight loss and exercise performance by nearly 20%. This spirals into a decrease in hormone production, (which occurs when we sleep), and ultimately affects our daily eating pattern. Popular studies show that weight gain occurs because more calories are consumed on the following day, because of lack of hormone release. Therefore, a continued deficit during the night will only lead to months and years of unnecessary weight gain. On the flip side, if you aren’t already experiencing weight gain, you may just be unable to lose weight at all. So you don’t have weight gain, but no weight loss occurs, either.
Practice Better Sleep Habits
The best advice is to practice better sleep habits, getting optimal rest and avoiding insomnia.
Start with controlling your sleep environment by setting it at the appropriate temperature. Experts suggest trying between 60 and 67 degrees Fahrenheit. Try eliminating all computers and television sets from your room as well, since any source of light tends to disrupt sleep patterns. Aim for consistency rather than trying to catch up on hours you might have missed the preceding day. Don’t be afraid to take short naps when feeling fatigued. These should be anywhere from 20 to 30 minutes long to help improve alertness, performance, and mood. Lastly, never consume caffeine in the afternoon because it has the ability to stay in your system and interrupt the natural onset of sleep several hours later (See our blog on giving up caffeine).
The final verdict is in. A poor amount of sleep greatly hinders weight loss and sets you up for other health problems. So do yourself a favor: turn out the light, tuck yourself in, and get some much-needed Zzzs.
This blog was written by Cara Hartman, NIFS Health Fitness Instructor. To find out more about the NIFS bloggers, click here.
Sleep Deficiency Hinders Weight Loss, So Try Better Sleep Habits was originally posted at <a href="http://www.nifs.org/blog/sleep-deficiency-hinders-weight-loss-so-try-better-sleep-habits" target="_blank" rel="noopener">http://www.nifs.org/blog/sleep-deficiency-hinders-weight-loss-so-try-better-sleep-habits</a> by Cara Hartman