Tuesday Training Tip

Anyone who has been to physical therapy knows resistance bands are no joke.  Those little rubber bands that look so simple can really challenge the best of us.  When I was training for my race last year, my trainer recommended I add resistance bands to my routine.  Resistance bands, like those found in any physical therapy routine, are made of rubber and come in many different resistance levels.  I quickly learned just how effective, dare I say muscles you never knew you had, these little bands can be.

When using resistance bands, you can work any muscle group and build strength.  They are great for travel because they are so light and easy to transport.  When used correctly and consistently, they can be used to develop muscle strength without the need for heavy weights and dumbbells.  If you’ve never tried resistance bands, you may be surprised at how much you can do with them.

Resistance bands do not rely on gravity as free weights do.  This means your muscle works throughout all parts of the motion.  They are quite cost effective, do not take up any space in your home and are quite portable.   Further, they can be used to complete full-body workouts that challenge every muscle group in your body.  I generally use them for work on my hips and legs to develop strength for running and can tell you they are no joke.  The trick is to get the right resistance for your current fitness level.

The resistance bands I purchased were color coded.  Others available are made in different thickness, with the thicker bands having the greater resistance.  The easiest test is to see how you feel when you use them.  If you are able to complete the set and not feel anything, they are too light.  If you can’t complete the full range of motion, they are too strong. Use trial and error in conjunction with how your body feels to get the right resistance.  Once you feel you have it right continue increasing the resistance as you get stronger.  I have mine a year and have gone up only two levels, so there is no rush.

Here is the band set I purchased for around $13.00:

 

  Limm Exercise Resistance Loop Bands – Set of 5, 12-inch Workout Bands – Best for Stretching, Physical Therapy and Home Fitness – Instructional Booklet & Handy Carry Bag

 

Here’s my coach doing the first short workout (7 minutes) with the bands.

 

There’s a ton of free videos available online to get started.  I hope you give these bands a try, you won’t be disappointed.  Let me know if you currently use resistance bands and how they’ve helped you develop strength.

Thursday Tips & Tricks

Sometimes in life we feel slightly off balance.  Sometimes in exercise, being off balance can open up a world of opportunity. When exercising, the ground under us is not always smooth or flat.   This week my training tip is to invest in, or look at the gym for, a Bosu ball to add to you workout routine.

During training for my half marathon, my trainer suggested I invest in a BOSU ball.  As soon as I heard they could strengthen my ankles I ordered one.  I have been having so much fun with this ball and can truly say it made a difference in my strength.  A BOSU ball looks like a half ball, with one side flat.  It is used as a balance board and can be used with either side up as both will provide different challenges.

The BOSU will improve your strength, flexibility and most importantly your stabilizing muscles as you work to keep yourself steady while it moves underneath you.  It was hard for me to even get on the flat side when I first got it and let’s not talk about getting off.  I have never laughed so hard at that and thankfully was in the privacy of my home.

Our stabilizer muscles hold and support our large muscle groups that move our body parts.  They prevent our body from sustaining damage while moving.  They work to keep certain parts of our body steady when other muscles are working.  When working on a BOSU we are able to target these muscles as our body works hard to maintain balance on a moving object.  I specifically love that I’m working these stabilizers as I’ve had ankle surgery and never want to go through that again.  Stabilizer muscles in your ankles keep them from rolling, so it’s important to me to strengthen them, along with the stabilizers in my core, knees and glutes.

The workouts I do on the BOSU are short, targeted and effective.  The ball itself came with a video with many options.  You can do Pilates and Yoga on the ball to bump up your current routine.  My trainer gave me specific videos of what she wanted me to do.  Here’s a link to a quick routine so you can see what it looks like.  I prefer standing on the flat side for more of a challenge, but start near a wall so you can get on and off safely.

 

Here is the actual BOSU ball set I purchased, it’s not overly large and doesn’t take up much space in my workout area.  It has to be inflated when it arrives, but a pump is included.  Best investment ever!

BOSU Balance Trainer, Blue

I generally use my BOSU following my runs. I don’t do a full workout on it, just targeted exercises. I target my glutes, feet/ankles and hips. You know I love it when it’s packed in my car and brought down to the beach house. It has become something I don’t want to live without, even for a week and I truly feel it has aided in my ankle recovery.

If you add this to your current workout routine, or currently use a BOSU, please leave a comment below.

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