Choosing A Band November 07 2013, 0 Comments

There are a lot of bands in the market that do not accurately represent the resistance that the bands have. Most only stated the resistance numbers in lbs but this does not make any sense. A resistive band is not a dumbbell that is measured by weight, but rather force at % elongation. Without the % elongation number, the resistance number means nothing. To choose a band, one must first understand the term progressive resistance.

Progressive Resistance 

When the band is not stretched at all, it's at 0% elongation. Therefore, there is zero resistance. As the band is stretched/elongated, the resistance value increases. This is called progressive resistance -- the resistance value starts at 0 and increases (it does not stay constant) as the band is continually stretched. 

The idea of progressive resistance is great because ANYONE, whether young, old, physically active (or not) can use the band. Since the resistance value really depends on how much it's elongated/stretched, the user can control the level of resistance needed by stretching more (or less) according to their ability.  

Most exercise bands resistance values are specified at 100% elongation (stretched to 2x its length) and sometimes at 200% (3x its length). For example, if you grip a 1 foot un-stretched section of the band that has 10lb resistance at 100% elongation and stretched it to 2 feet (100% elongation), at that point, you are experiencing 10lb of resistance.

Choosing a Band

Since all resistance bands have progressive resistance -- starting at 0 resistance, it could be beneficial/cost effective for the user to purchase a slightly heavier resistance band and slowly work up his/her ability to increase the stretch (and therefore the resistance as he/she develops his/her strength). 

One key principle to remember with progressive resistance is that: depending on the resistance, using a slightly heavier resistance band and stretching it an inch can be just as effective as using a lighter resistance band and stretching it a foot.  The goal is not to stretch the band as much as possible but rather stretch it to a length that a) gives you the most effective work-out, b) does not cause injury. It's always best to listen to your body and/or consult with a health professional
 
In any case, most resistance bands come packaged in 2 or 3 bands anyway since different resistances are used for exercising different parts of the body. If the bands are still too light individually, they may be used together to increase the resistance -- this is using the resistances in parallel. To calculate the total resistance this way, simply add the resistance values of each band a each % elongation. 
 

General Guidelines For Choosing Bands

Below are some very general guidelines in choosing our bands based on gender and category. For more details, refer to the last table below for resistance numbers in lbs and kgs at 100% and 200% elongation.

 

Categories (Male)

Resistance

Very Elderly or Under physical therapy/rehabilitation Very Light to Light
Elderly & Inactive Male Light to Light-Medium
Inactive Male Medium to Medium-Heavy
Average to Active Male Medium-Heavy to Heavy
Very Active/ Strong Male/ Professional Athlete Custom resistance are available. Contact Us.

 Table 1: General Guidelines for Men

 

Categories (Female)

Resistance

 Very Elderly, Under Physical Therapy/Rehabilitation Very Light to Light
Elderly or Inactive Female Light to Light-Medium
Average Female Light-Medium to Medium
Active/Strong Female Medium to Medium-Heavy
Very Strong Female Medium-Heavy to Heavy
Professional Female Athele Custom resistance are available. Contact Us.

 Table 2: General Guidelines for Women

 

From Weights to Resistance Bands 

For those who are familiar with weights/dumbbells and already know their weight limit, below is a chart that can help you gauge the 'weight' or level of resistance that you can use right away. If you use good form and the right resistance level, your muscle fibers won't know the difference between weights or bands. 

To reiterate the example above: if you grip a 1 foot un-stretched section of the band that has 10lb resistance at 100% elongation and stretched it to 2 feet (100% elongation), at that point, you are experiencing 10lb of resistance.

As a rough gauge, you would rarely stretch the band beyond 300% (or 4x of any part of the band), and most people often stretch either up to 100% elongation (2x) or between 100% and 200% elongation (2x - 3x), depending on the exercise. 

 

 Resistance Category
Resistance at rest
Resistance of band in Pounds at Resistance of band in Kilograms at
100% Elongation 200% Elongation 300% Elongation 100% Elongation 200% Elongation 300% Elongation
Very Light 0 2.6 lb 3.9 lb 5.5 lb 1.2 kg 1.8 kg 2.5 kg
Light 0 3.3 lb 4.6 lb 7.5 lb 1.5 kg 2.1 kg 3.4 kg
Light-Medium 0 4.6 lb 7.0 lb 9.7 lb 2.1 kg 3.2 kg 4.4 kg
Medium 0 5.7 lb 8.4 lb 11.7 lb 2.6 kg 3.8 kg 5.3 kg
Medium-Heavy 0 7.9 lb 11.2 lb 15.4 lb 3.6 kg 5.1 kg 7 kg
Heavy 0 11.4 lb 16.9 lb 24.2 lb 5.2 kg 7.7 kg 11 kg

Table 3: Band resistances (Resistances are based on a 5'' wide band. The thickness of each band varies with the resistance value)

 

 

 Resistance Category
Resistance at rest
Resistance of band in Pounds at Resistance of band in Kilograms at
100% Elongation 200% Elongation 300% Elongation 100% Elongation 200% Elongation 300% Elongation
Light 0 3.0 lb 4.9 lb 6.6 lb 1.4 kg 2.2 kg 3.0 kg
Light-Medium 0 4.0 lb 5.5 lb 9.0 lb 1.8 kg 2.5 kg 4.1 kg
Medium 0 5.5 lb 8.4 lb 11.7 lb 2.5 kg 3.8 kg 5.3 kg
Medium-Heavy 0 6.8 lb 10.1 lb 14.1 lb 3.1 kg 4.6 kg 6.4 kg
Heavy 0 9.5 lb 13.4 lb 18.5 lb 4.3 kg 6.1 kg 8.4 kg
Very Heavy 0 13.7 lb 20.3 lb 29.1 lb 6.2 kg 9.2 kg 13.2 kg

Table 4: Band resistances (Resistances are based on a 6'' wide band. The thickness of each band varies with the resistance value)

 

Remember that with progressive resistance, you can always change/control your resistance on your band with the steps below:

 

Need more resistance?

1) Shorten the length of the band between each grip and stretch to desired distance.

2) Depending on the exercise you're doing, if it's possible (and without danger of injuring yourself) stretch the band longer to obtain more resistance. 

When you've done the 2 options above to increase your resistance yet not getting enough resistance for your work-out, it is time to upgrade to a thicker band with more resistance.

Need less resistance?

1) Lengthen the band between each grip and stretch to desired distance.

2) Decrease the stretch. 

Likewise, when you've done the 2 options above to decrease your resistance yet still find it difficult to stretch the band even a little, you need a thinner band with less resistance.