Why resistance bands are the secret to changing your body shape

Home workouts have made the news lately as the BBC air their documentary “The Truth about…Getting Fit at Home

With over 30 years’ experience in the health and fitness industry, I have been a huge fan of resistance bands in training for a long time! They are key to body shaping and I think it’s great they are getting this recognition. Here’s my low-down on why resistance bands are so effective, particularly for women over 40.

What are resistance bands and how do they work?

A resistance band is a tubular shape of strong rubber elastic that causes a resistance against any movement. This movement can be a contraction of a muscle, a lengthening of a muscle, or a static hold. Our bodies move through different axis and plains of movement continually throughout the day. By using resistance bands in our exercise sessions, we can potentially improve strength in a safe manner. The beauty of the band is that it crosses every sphere of movement. Resistance bands don’t need gravity to exert resistance, unlike dumbbells and most other gym-based exercises. They are effective at minimal tensions too, which is one of the reasons why Physiotherapist use resistance bands as rehabilitation tools after injury. 

Movement of the resistance band during training:

  • A “push” movement, such as a chest press or chest fly. 
  • A ‘pull’ movement, such as a row or a pulldown.
  • An “abduction” movement, which means that you take the force away from the midline of the body.
  • An adduction, movement which means an inward movement towards the midline of the body.

Why are resistance bands effective during a workout?

When using resistance bands, you are putting the muscle under constant tension within the range of movement of the exercise. Shape, and therefore strength, is produced most effectively when a muscle contraction is in its eccentric phase - this means lengthening under a force or resistance. This is why resistance band training is best coached alongside an experienced coach who understands the methods used to obtain the best figure for women.

When it comes to body shaping and resistance bands younger women get results using the band work at higher intensities. This would mean adding explosive power moves into the workout and increasing heart rate above steady state (Mafftone 180-age plus or minus 5 to 10  for beginner or advanced.

An older woman in peri- menopause or menopause has to adapt her training to prevent cortisol release during exercise as the body becomes more stressed. This is known as oxidative stress. Resistance band training offers exactly that; a workout that increases lean mass without causing oxidative stress and cortisol release. The heart rate would be lower and the results the same.

So what about the booty shaping?

Well, you can change your shape over time if you are training intelligently, using resistance bands and being 100% consistent. That means at least 5 days a week for around 45 mins ONLY if you are watching your food choices. That’s why we have the phrase “diet and exercise”. I actually think diet is the wrong word to use. “Food choice” and exercise is so much better. It matters what you eat. The right food choice for your body and optimal health needs to become a habit and a ‘healthy lifestyle.’ 

The secret to maintained weight loss is not a “diet”

After years of coaching women through fitness shows and general weight loss programs, I have found those clients who learnt to eat regular balanced healthy meals had better long-term results than a woman who “diets” and misses meals to decrease calories. Healthy balance food choice means carbs, fats and proteins included in each meal.

Top Tip for women 40 plus: Split cardio training from resistance training

Cardiovascular training is important for heart health. As we age it helps to split up cardiovascular training and train for shorter periods of time so that we rest and refuel in between. Cardio can also in some women ‘interfere” with gaining lean mass. 

Women of 40 plus are better off taking low intensity exercise later in the day.

Testimonial from Denise Hazelwood:

I had a few health conditions; I was obese, had an  underactive thyroid  - I didn’t think the plan would work as I had tried every diet out there  to lose the weight – I also has IBS ( for the last 19 years) and to top it off, menopause too – I just thought I would be ‘one of those women that it wouldn’t work for’ It was a mind battle I thought I would be ‘watching from the side lines as everyone else  achieved their goals’  - During the process I  had a major plateau – I actually didn’t lose weight for 2 months which compounded that feeling of being left behind and that I couldn’t do it! By April 2019 I still felt huge. So from Feb  - April I didn’t lose any thing! – I felt like an outsider, BUT I stuck with it and the weight started to drop! Honestly it just kicked off and I started losing a lb a week!!  This continued up until September – it was safe and gradual weight loss – which was great so now my skin isn’t saggy ( I hit 61kg in the September 2019!)

Join Livia’s live zoom classes for intelligent resistance training!

Livia Francis of Fit Freedom is hosting daily body shaping workouts - using resistance bands as the preferred way to tone up! The live zoom classes, and online video program is especially for women who want to shape up, lose weight, feel toned and boost their energy all within a wonderfully motivated community. 

16th January 2021

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