I'm all about home workouts using inexpensive equipment. When you have resistance bands, dumbbells and a ball, for example, you've got endless exercise options and combinations for a pretty small investment. But as you get stronger and fitter, your once-challenging dumbbells can become obsolete. Well here's a tip that will help you extend the useful life of your dumbbells and DOUBLE your workout results at the same time!
By using a resistance band and dumbbells at the same time, you'll add challenge and variety to your exercises and keep seeing results without buying heavier set of weights. Even if your current weights are still challenging, adding a band can help you build even more lean muscle. One study published in the Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research found that exercisers who used dumbbells and resistance bands simultaneously gained twice the upper and lower body strength as participants who used free weights alone. I don't think we need researchers to tell us that when you combine two forms of strength training into one, you're adding challenge (resistance) and therefore likely to see better results. But it's sure is good to know that your hunch is right!
Why try this technique? Besides adding challenging to less-than-challenging dumbbell exercises, you can speed through your workouts faster when you use heavier resistance. Instead of doing, for example, 20 reps using a band or dumbbell alone, you can combine the two and reach fatigue in far fewer reps, which means less time spent working out. Or if you're looking to prevent or overcome a plateau, a new technique like this could be just the thing you need to "shock" your body back into action. Lastly, fitness fanatics like me just like to try new exercises and techniques, and this is a fun and interesting one to try that gives you more workout options.
So how do you do it? Combining your resistance band with free weights isn't rocket science, but it's very individual. Most people can hold onto the handles of a resistance and small dumbbells at the same time without sacrificing form or safety. If your bands are the "Pilates" style ones that are flat and don't have handles, you can usually wrap them around the dumbbell handle. But if you find these options too uncomfortable, you can probably rig your band to your dumbbells in whatever way suits you best—just make sure it's secure, you can grip the dumbbell without risk of dropping it, and you aren't sacrificing form to try this technique. Be creative when it comes to exercises. You could add dumbbells to nearly every exercise that uses a resistance band, or the other way around.
I have to say, I'm a fan of this technique and I use it occasionally myself—at home, at the gym, and even when teaching fitness classes. Why not shake things up a bit and give it a try? Doubling the results of my workouts is incentive enough for me to use bands with dumbbells more regularly. How about you?
Do you ever combine resistance bands with free weights? Will you try this technique?
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