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If you could only take one piece of equipment in the RV to keep you fit on the road, the absolute best choice would be a resistance band kit.
The benefits of resistance bands are through the roof. Not only will you effectively build strength, but bands are also inexpensive and easy to store in the RV, unlike heavy weights. I’m a huge fan of traveling with resistance bands, and James and I never travel without our beloved Bodylastics kit.
I especially love how resistance bands add variety and spice up a workout on the road. It’s really important to LIKE your exercise, and the bands give you virtually unlimited possibilities to keep your workouts fresh and interesting. Beginners and advanced exercisers alike can benefit from resistance bands, because they are completely adaptable to all fitness levels.
But there seems to be this disregard for resistance bands as a serious exercise tool, and I’m not sure why. They’ve gotten a bad rap over the years. I hear it around the gym where I train all the time. “You can’t get a good pump!” “No one serious about their fitness uses them!” “Bands don’t hold a candle to free weights!” Oh really? Let’s compare the two.
Resistance Bands vs. Free Weights
When you use free weights, gravity is in control. Since free weights depend on gravity to create the resistance, you get most of your resistance only during the upward phase of any movement, not the downward phase. And since gravity only pulls downwards, moving free weights horizontally isn’t going to do all that much. With resistance bands training, both phases of the exercise have resistance, no matter which direction the exercise takes, so you have significantly more exercise options.
Because of the constant tension resistance bands provide, the result is better strength through your entire range of motion and more complete muscle stimulation. This makes resistance bands a much more effective way to increase your coordination and balance, as well as your daily living fitness. In fact, Dr. Jim Stoppani in a recent article cited some studies that show resistance bands are more effective than free weights in increasing functional fitness as well as INJURY PREVENTION! This is very important, because as we age, our risk of injury increases. Research shows that exercising with resistance bands regularly can help decrease our chances of injuries.
Comparing a Biceps Curl with Free Weights and Resistance Bands
When you stand and do a biceps curl with free weights, you’ll notice how easy the exercise feels at the very top, when the weights are at your shoulders. That’s because gravity basically pulls them down into your shoulders. Lowering them feels completely different than the lifting phase, since gravity lends a hand. When doing this same exercise with a resistance band, the tension does not lessen at the top phase of the curl.
In fact, as the band stretches, the tension actually increases, making the exercise much harder at the top of the curl. The lowering phase provides an equal amount of tension as occurred on the lifting phase. This makes the biceps curl exercise with the resistance band much more effective in working through your whole range of motion than with the free weights.
OK, But What Kind Should I Buy?
James and I use the Bodylastics brand of resistance bands. There are lots of manufacturers out there, but Bodylastics actually runs a cord through their resistance bands which makes them virtually snap-proof. We appreciate that safety feature, as I’ve seen enough house bands snap on people at the gym I work at to know the importance of a good quality band. We also like that the Bodylastics bands are separate from the handles – they clip on. You can bring 13 bands without having to bring 13 pairs of handles, which saves space in your RV. Finally, Bodylastics sells their bands in little kits…complete with a carrying bag and various handles and attachments to make your exercise opportunities limitless!
I’ve Got the Bands! Now What?
If you’re interested in some resistance bands workout ideas, check out some of my band workouts we’ve got up here on the Fit RV website:
Each of those links was shot in a different beautiful spot while we were out RVing. That’s another thing I love about resistance bands. They give us an excuse to get out of the RV and explore our surroundings. It adds a completely new & adventurous dimension to RVing.
Bottom line: If you want to be around to RV for a long, long time, the bands are an effective AND fun tool you can use that will help you do just that.
Hope to meet you on the road, friends!