Bands and Balls: When and Why to Use Them
by Cynthia M. Johnson, MA
The elastic bands and balls at the gym may look scary, but you can learn how to use them to improve your workout. Here is what you need to know about these simple training items.
Resistance bands can be a simple and fun thing to add to your workout. The large, open-ended rubber bands come in many sizes. They can be used to exercise your upper and lower body.
Talk to a trainer before starting a band program. A trainer can show you proper form, lower the risk of injury, and suggest exercises that are right for your level of fitness.
The best way to use bands is to wrap them around stable objects, like a bedpost or door knob. There are also exercises that you can do by holding the rubber band with your foot.
You can do many of the same exercises you do now using bands. Hook them over a high bar for lat pull downs or chest press. Step on the rubber bands with your feet to give some resistance for bicep or tricep exercises. You can also do a mix of exercises. With the bands under your feet, try going from a squat into a shoulder press. Get creative! Bands let you work on your entire body.
Some benefits of bands are:
Bands do not give you an aerobic workout, which is an important part of being fit. Another drawback is that there is a limit to how much strength you can gain with bands. They should be used as a way to mix up your routine or as a good way to stay fit when traveling.
If you want to buy bands, try them out before buying. Test out the handles. Those with a bigger grip may be more comfortable. Bands should also have a few resistance levels. The different levels will help you stretch your routine to new levels.
Medicine balls are rubber balls, ranging in size (softball to basketball size) and weight (from 1 pound to 30 pounds). They can add fun to a workout and improve the strength of your muscles.
Medicine balls can be used alone or with a workout buddy. Many exercises will have you throwing and catching the weighted balls, but some can be used to improve standing exercises that help with arms and abdominals. If you train for a specific sport, you and your buddy can mimic the ball exercises to the movements made in the sport. Ask a personal trainer to go over the options.
You will need a healthy back, a strong core, and strong joints to use medicine balls. The exercises also depend on your ability to twist, bend, jump, and maintain good balance. Using medicine balls will improve those areas, but you should start with a strong base. Otherwise, you may have an injury.
The prices of medicine balls vary depending on the size and weight of the ball. Some companies make a 3-pound ball in softball size only and some offer it in volleyball or basketball size. You may want a specific size depending on how you will use the equipment. Take time to study and test the different balls so you can buy the ones that best meet your needs.
The President's Council on Sports, Fitness, and Nutrition
The College of Family Physicians of Canada
8 creative ways to use a medicine ball. Available at: https://www.acefitness.org/education-and-resources/professional/expert-articles/5289/8-creative-ways-to-use-a-medicine-ball/. Accessed June 22, 2021.
Resistance tubing workout. American Council on Exercise website. Available at: https://www.acefitness.org/education-and-resources/lifestyle/blog/6693/resistance-tubing-workout. Accessed June 22, 2021.
Last reviewed June 2021 by EBSCO Medical Review Board
Last Updated: 6/22/2021
EBSCO Information Services is fully accredited by URAC. URAC is an independent, nonprofit health care accrediting organization dedicated to promoting health care quality through accreditation, certification and commendation.
This content is reviewed regularly and is updated when new and relevant evidence is made available. This information is neither intended nor implied to be a substitute for professional medical advice. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider prior to starting any new treatment or with questions regarding a medical condition.
To send comments or feedback to our Editorial Team regarding the content please email us at email@example.com. Our Health Library Support team will respond to your email request within 2 business days.