Keeping in shape whilst you’re traveling can be difficult, especially if you’re trying build muscle or create a toned look, which requires regular resistance training. A lot of areas don’t have gyms, and even if they do then you’ve got issues like language barriers, membership and opening hours to contend with. Luckily, however, there’s a cheap, simple and easy way to have access to a gym-style resistance workout wherever you are – the resistance band.
What are resistance bands?
A resistance band is a rubberised band that can be stretched. As you stretch the band you have to use muscular energy to overcome the bands elastic resistance. Depending on the size of the band this resistance can equate from anything from 6 to 22lb of resistance.
Plus if you combine multiple bands then you can easily achieve upwards of 60lb of resistance.
Why are they good for your training?
The bands allow you to keep your muscles under constant tension throughout a large range of motion, which is one of the best ways to make sure that they grow. This can help you to develop muscle size and strength for a more ‘toned’, athletic look.
How much do they cost?
Very little, a full set will cost you between ten and thirty dollars (£8-24) depending on the manufacturer.
Why are they useful for traveling?
Resistance bands are super light, with an entire set (including handles and attachments) weighing less than 700 grams, so no issues with luggage allowance. They’re also super flexible, meaning that you can easily fit them into your suitcase or backpack.
Which exercises can you do with them?
With resistance bands, you’re pretty much only limited by your own imagination. We’ve found ways to perform dozens of popular exercises. Here are some of our favorites:
Chest Press: Lie face up with the middle part of the band(s) under your back, grabbing a handle in each hand. You can then press just like you would using free weights. The only difference is that with a band the movement will actually be most difficult right at the top of the press, rather than at the bottom as with free weights.
Squats: Pop the bands over your shoulder and tuck the ends securely under your feet, you can then squat pretty much as normal, though again, the toughest part of the movement will be at the top, which is the opposite of a free weight squat.
Glute Kick Backs: In the all fours position, secure the band under your hands and attach the other end around your foot (most sets have handy straps for this) you can then kick your leg backwards against the band’s resistance for an awesome glute workout.
Bent Over Rows: Tuck the band securely under both feet, grabbing one handle in each hand. With your back straight you can hinge your hips to lean forwards so that you’re looking towards the floor. From this position, you can pull the bands towards yourself for a great back workout.
Cable Twists: If you attach one end of the bands to a pole or solid structure (you can use clips but we’ve found a basic knot works just fine) then you can perform cable twists. Start with your body at ninety degrees to the structure you attached your band to. The band should be at your side and you should have outstretched arms. Rotate your torso so that your upper body aligns with your hips and your arms are now outstretched in front of you. Hold for three seconds then return to where you started. This should give you a great core workout.
Sets and reps
Just like a normal gym-based free weights workout you should approach resistance band training using certain amounts of sets and repetitions. A good starting point is 3 sets of 15-20 reps, which should help you get used to the movements and build some muscular endurance.
When you feel comfortable with that you can try 3 or 4 sets of 10 reps with slightly more resistance. And if you want to change things up and use even more resistance you could try performing 5 sets of 5 reps for each exercise.
I hope this quick guide has given you a few ideas on how to keep training your muscles even without access to a gym. Here’s to looking and feeling great all year round!