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We Love Strength Training: Head Over Heels for Barbells and Resistance Bands!

Welcome back to We Love Strength Training - the second of a four part series on the various strength training implements available to help you achieve your fitness goals. 💪 ICYMI, last week we had a riveting discussion on two of our favorite strength training implements: dumbbells and kettlebells. If you’d enjoy a bit of a review, check out We Love Strength Training: Crazy in Love with Dumbbells and Kettlebells! While we will not drone on too much about the importance of strength training, we will remind you that it is such a powerful tool for anyone looking to improve their overall health and fitness (and who doesn’t want a bit of that)! Enough about last week, we have two more exciting implements we cannot wait to discuss: barbells and resistance bands! Let's get ready to lift!


Barbells


Kelly - 2fast twins - Barbell Training

Want to be able to lift heavier? Well then, the barbell is for you! Using a barbell is extremely adaptable and versatile - unlike dumbbells and kettlebells which are (usually) not adjustable in weight, using a barbell is completely adjustable over a large range of weight, which can be great for progressing to higher gains. For those looking to up their barbell game, there are 10 types of barbells you might want to get acquainted with. Check out this article for more information on the different barbells available.


Training with barbells includes mostly compound movements. What is a compound movement? Great question! Compound movements are exercises that use more than one muscle group to complement the movement - think, deadlifts and squats! Compound movements are beneficial as they allow you to develop more force and power and improve intermuscular coordination - you know, when all the muscles and joints used in the movement have to work together to move the load. The more force and power you can produce, the greater the load you can move. Improvements in intermuscular coordination allow the muscles to work more efficiently – critical for lifting heavier! Popular barbell exercises (and ones we totally love!) include deadlifts, squats, bench presses, overhead presses, and the Olympic lifts: the clean and jerk and the snatch.


The Added Benefits of Just Using Weight Plates in Your Strength Training Routine


You might wonder if there are any benefits to using weight plates without the barbell. We will happily share with you that there are significant advantages to training with weight plates - hello, grip strength! “Weight plates are commonly used with barbells, but their flexibility [as a solo implement] is their best quality…[they help] you target more muscles, build strength, boost endurance, and strengthen your grip”. [1] So, why is grip strength so important? Grip strength can tell you how well you are aging. “A recent study of 1,275 men and women found that those with relatively feeble handgrip strength, a reliable marker of overall muscle quality and strength, showed signs of accelerated aging of their DNA. Their genes appeared to be growing old faster than those of people with greater strength”. [2] Anyone care to join us in a Farmers Carry? 

Alayna - 2fast twins - Barbell Squat

A Final Note About Barbell Strength Training


Our discussion of barbells could not be complete without mentioning a critical point regarding safety! It is important to note that if you want to invest in barbell training for your home, you need a safety power rack. A safety power rack allows you to lift heavy, without a spotter, safely. Just to hammer this point in a bit further, a safety power rack enables you to perform compound exercises without worrying about getting stuck under the barbell. We are all about lifting heavy and performance gains, but first and foremost, we want you to be safe!


Resistance Bands


What is an affordable, easy to transport, and safe option for strength training? You guessed it, resistance bands! Resistance bands are suitable for almost anyone to use, making this strength training implement a great option for beginners. However, even the most seasoned athletes can benefit from using resistance bands as you, the athlete, are in control of the resistance and difficulty. An additional advantage to resistance bands is their versatility, as bands typically come in sets - you are not restricted by only having a pair of dumbbells or one kettlebell. This means that you have the opportunity to tailor the resistance level (or spice things up!) between different exercises in your strength training program. 


Types of Resistance Bands

  • Looped Resistance Bands (a.k.a. Power Bands): these bands are a continuous, flat loop, specifically designed for strength training (i.e., bodyweight assistance exercises, resistance exercises, and full body exercises). Due to the variety of sizes available, looped resistance bands are designed for athletes of all levels. 

  • Tubed Bands with Handles: these bands are great for resistance and full body exercises. Unlike the other types of resistance bands, tubed bands work great with an anchor for doors, bars, and/or poles. This really expands the options on the types of exercises you can perform. 

  • Mini-bands: these are great for warm-ups and priming exercises. (Just a quick note, priming exercises prepare the body and muscles for the exercises in the training session.) Additionally, mini-bands are ideal for adding resistance to bodyweight exercises to increase the difficulty of the movement. More on this to come!

  • Therapy Bands: these are great for low impact workouts and muscle toning, specifically during the warm-up as they help to increase range of movement and mobility. Additionally, therapy bands are ideal for regaining strength after an injury. 

  • Figure 8 Bands: these are great for both upper and lower body workouts and lateral movements as they mimic many machine and/or dumbbell exercises.


Kelly - 2fast twins - Resistance Bands

Resistance Bands Are About to Become Your New Favorite Warm-Up Tool


Resistance bands are a great tool for warm-ups! Using resistance bands during your warm-up allows you to activate the muscles you will be using in the training portion of your workout and there are tons of primer exercises you can do with bands to prep your muscles. Priming your body for leg day or lower body work? Own leg day by trying banded lateral squat walks. Placing the band around the ankle for added resistance really fires up your gluteal muscles and your legs. Additionally, resistance bands are great at helping improve flexibility. Resistance bands allow you to perform stretches which can help to activate and strengthen your muscles. This can ultimately lead to improved flexibility and mobility, allowing you to perform daily activities with greater ease. For example, “if you can't easily grab your foot behind you for a quad stretch, wrap the band around the top of your foot and pull it up toward your glutes to get the job done”. [3]


Why We Love Resistance Bands So Much


What makes resistance bands different from traditional tools for strength training? With resistance bands, you cannot rely on using momentum to finish a movement, rather you have to continue to work against the resistance, activating more muscle fibers in the process to get to your end range of motion. [3] Resistance bands can be pushed and pulled in any directions, so there is a greater variety of exercises and movement patterns that can be performed, which help develop greater motor control and coordination. [3] As an added bonus, resistance bands help build functional fitness. “Unlike free weights, bands don't rely on gravity for resistance. This increases their potential for use in more functional movement patterns”. [3] Increasing your functional fitness means you have the strength, flexibility, mobility, balance, and coordination to perform everyday activities, leading to better quality of life and overall health and wellness.


 

Wow! It’s no wonder we are head over heels for barbells and resistance bands! Their versatility and effectiveness in building strength and muscle make them a go-to for fitness enthusiasts, including us! Please remember, it is essential to approach strength training with caution and proper technique. Proper form is crucial, so we strongly recommend working with a certified personal trainer or coach who can guide you through the proper technique and progression of exercises. So, don’t hesitate to incorporate strength training into your fitness routine, as it can be a rewarding way to enhance your overall health and wellness! 🤩


Oh, and if you are in the market for some new strength training equipment and are not sure where to start, please reach out to us and we would be more than happy to discuss options with you!


Happy Sunday and all our love! ❤️ Kelly & Alayna


References:

[1] Morin, L. (2023). 15 Best Weight Plate Exercises You Can Do at Home. DMoose. https://www.dmoose.com/blogs/home-gym/15-best-weight-plate-exercises

[2] Reynolds, G. (2023). What Grip Strength Can Tell You About How Well Your Are Aging. The Washington Post. https://www.washingtonpost.com/wellness/2023/01/18/grip-strength-muscles-aging/

[3] Falk, M. (2022). The Benefits of Resistance Bands Will Make You Reconsider Whether You Even Need Weights. Shape. https://www.shape.com/fitness/gear/equipment/benefits-of-resistance-bands


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