The great debate between lifting weights and using resistance bands comes down to personal preference, and whether you’re training to compete as a weight lifter. Basically, you can get a good workout from both. You can read an article at Livestrong and another article at Fit Simplify. Both cite studies and mention the pro’s and con’s. I’m just going to tell you a little about my experience over the last six weeks using the bands.
I began in good New Years Resolution fashion with 10 efforts in January. I followed that up with a big goose egg, a 0, in February,, as mentioned due to injury (not from this) and Snowmaggedon. So in March I came roaring back with a perfect 31 of 31. In April, I’ve dropped the lower body for alternating days of upper body, and am on track at six efforts in 12 days. That’s more sustainable and much less of a hassle since I have to wave my Garmin watch around along with the leg movements to track repetitions, and it’s not a good measurement of calories burned.
What I’ve noticed is subtle improvement. It’s easier to hold myself up while I’m using the foam roller on my legs, for example. Or pushing up to get off the floor. Pickle jars are still a challenge, though. There are two reasons my progress is not faster or more noticeable: I only do 15 minutes per session, and I’m not doing it that hard. (Insert The Office’s Michael Scott catchphrase here.)
I’m OK with that. After 47 strength training practices, I’m doing several things that are more important than what would be the goal for most: building big muscles. What is better than that? Creating the habit of weight training. Also, although I started out using YouTube videos, I’m frequently just making up my own exercises. You wouldn’t think stretchy bands involve creativity, but they do.
For example, to mimic bicep curls, I stand on the band, and since the main band I use is from Gaiam and has handles, it’s easy to do. Other exercises come and go as I see fit: pectoral fly, rowing, triceps and lats movements, and so on. The keys to my success here are that the 15 minutes goes by pretty quickly. So even on days — and by that I mean nights — that I don’t feel like it, I push through because to not would seem pretty wimpy even by my relaxed standards. I don’t burn out by feeling like I have to do an hour, or that much intensity. With resistance bands, you control the difficulty. Always consult your medical professional before beginning an exercise program.
Now that I’m alternating days, to allow for rest and muscle recovery and growth (sometime I should be doing with the bicycle!), I could make the argument that I should be doing 30 minutes. At some point, I might work up to that, especially if and when I feel safe to go to the gym. I could get some coaching and tips on how to better use the bands. Or try weights again. Or I may take advantage of physical therapy since that’s where the bands come from and they would emphasize safety more than a personal trainer. Let’s face it, many of them deserve their reputation as lunkheads
So while I very intentionally created a streak and then broke it, more importantly I’ve renewed a former habit and upgraded it. I used to do weights at a gym years ago way back when we was without flab. And I’ve got plenty of other streaks which simultaneously suck the life force out of me and give me… something. Maybe you can teach an old dude new tricks!
Do you do strength training? Especially since this is an overlooked disciplne for cyclists?
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