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Bands verses Dumbbells

It’s important to understand why we use bands instead of dumbbells like many other boot camps do.  In addition, we need to understand the color coordination. And finally, it’s important to know when to move up to a harder color, and when it’s OK to back off and use an easier resistance band.

Why CFC Chooses Bands Over Dumbbells

  • The limits of using dumbbells
    • You can only carry so many sets of dumbbells in your car (same goes for your trainer) so there is a limited range of weights you can bring to class
    • Zero ability to change the resistance during a particular exercise (making it harder or easier)
    • Since dumbbells only work when gravity pulls them downward there is a limited number of movements (exercises) that can be performed
    • Benefits of using resistance bands
      • Provide a larger variety of exercises since they can be used at various angles
      • You can increase or decrease the resistance during the exercise just by doing small things like stepping forward or backwards
      • Many exercises engage the core more with bands due to the way the exercise is preformed

Understanding Color Coding

The bands CFC uses increasing order of resistance, yellow, red, blue, green and grey being the hardest band we have.  However, some of the stronger people in class may end up doubling up on bands increasing the tension even more!

What’s Better: More Reps or Better Form?

This is a question that’s asked a lot, and the answer is not so simple.

Let’s make this very crystal clear: proper form is an absolute must, no matter what kind of training you’re doing, free weight or resistance band, no matter how you’re trying to train, with fewer reps or more reps, you should absolutely ensure proper form with each and every exercise, each and every time.  If not, you will be setting yourself up for a real chance of injury.

With that said, here are a few points to consider:

  • Good form means you use the full, correct range of motion and therefore target the muscle(s) your trainer wants you to target
  • Obviously, doing more reps means you are taxing the muscle more and increasing the endurance of that muscle and therefore are increasing your ability to push through the lactic acid build up (feeling the burn)
  • Typically, if your form gets too bad, then you should switch to an easier version of the exercise or switch to an easier band
  • However, there are times when your trainer may want you to stay at a higher resistance even if your form suffers somewhat.  Sometimes, ‘good enough’ form is the goal while bad form should never be the goal

As the trainer for my class, there are times when I want my clients to do an exercise for 2 minutes, I don’t expect perfect form the entire time but I may specify that I want them off their knees (for a pushup) for the entire time, knowing they are going to stick their butts up into the air.  But, as the trainer, I know keeping their body weight on their arms the whole time will help them develop those triceps and make them overall better at pushups.

Other times, I might say, something like: ‘Last set folks, let’s do 15 GOOD pushups!’  Then I’m trying to tell them I want their best form and want them to push really hard to use their best form as possible.

A few final words of advice: You should communicate with your trainer to make sure you understand the goals your trainer as in mind for you.  Choosing a red or blue band can make a huge difference in walking away from your workout feeling good, or walking away feeling like your arms are going to fall off (and this isn’t a bad thing).  So make sure you ask your trainer what you should be focusing on!

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