Resistance Bands

What are they? What are the benefits? How can we apply them to our workouts?

Resistance bands come in various sizes, tensions, and colours but they are generally either flat bands or tubular bands/ropes. The first recorded ‘resistant band’ was invented in 1895 Switzerland by Gustav Gossweiler – he later patented his resistance band in the USA in June 1896, branding his invention an ‘exercise device’.

THE APPLICATION OF GOSSWEILER’S BAND MIRRORS THE WAY WE USE THEM TODAY


From 1960s physiotherapists began using resistance band application in physical therapy. By the 1980s the general public had taken up the mantel, incorporating resistance band training into their personal fitness regimes and thus, the resistance band as we see it today on 100s of Instagram videos was born!

THE BENEFITS OF RESITANCE BAND TRAINING

  • They are portable and inexpensive


Easy to hold or sling in your gym bag, resistance bands can be used anywhere from the gym, the park to home. You can pick up a decent set of resistance bands on Amazon for less than £25 (around 31 USD).

  • They are versatile

Resistance bands can be used standalone or to compliment your free-weights training to incrementally increase resistance and  level up your 1RM.

You can complete a full body workout using just resistance bands, so if you have limited equipment they’re a great piece to add to your arsenal – ESPECAILLY if your gym is closed / booked up due to Covid.

  • Strength Training

Resistance bands are generally colour-coded depending on their resistance level. Usually they go from light (in colour and resistance) to heavy (and dark), but this can go either way. The different tensions place different intensities on your muscles when stretched.

  • They can focus your muscle control

When you’re using resistance bands you are forced to focus even more on eccentric movement (the portion of a movement where your muscle lengthens), rather than concentric movement focus (muscle shortening) that free weights can lean towards.

When you apply free weights and resistance bands at the same time, you increase your muscles’ time under tension in both directions, improving the overall intensity and quality of your workout.

  • They can make exercise development easier and more achievable

Take pull ups and chin ups for an example. If you can’t do them, you probably think you need to spend a lot of time on free weights and body weight exercises to sufficiently build your upper body muscles before you can grab that bar and hoick yourself up, right?

Wrong! Loop a resistance band around the pull up bar, leaving a loop for your foot to go into, or loop them horizontally along the J hooks if you’re on a rig, to get a boost! We recommend starting with an XX-Heavy band and, over time, lessening the resistance of the bands as your upper body muscles build.

If you’re a member of our Facebook Group, head over to watch the Resistance Band Workout video, where we demonstrate a huge range of full-body resistance band exercises for you to apply to your own workouts!

If you’re not a member of our Facebook group…WHY NOT? For full, free access to all our video resources, join our ladies-only Facebook page at:

https://www.facebook.com/groups/womenweightswellbeing/

PLEASE just remember to be careful when using resistance bands – they can flick up and hit you if you’re not holding them securely! If you’ve anchored a resistance band to a surface like a pole, please make sure it is fully secure before attempting an exercise.

REMEMBER: REPEAT THE REPS ON EACH SIDE. If you do 10 reps on one arm, make sure to complete a further 10 on the other

SAMPLE UPPER BODY WORKOUT
ExerciseSetsReps
Overhead Stretch310
Jacket Press (version 1 or 2310
Lateral Extensions310
Lat Pulls310
Across Chest Pulls310
Tricep Kickbacks 3 10
Bent Rows 3 10
Front Raises 3 10
Cuff Rotators 3 10
Bow and Arrows 3 10
SAMPLE LOWER BODY WORKOUT
ExerciseSetsReps
Squats310
Monster Walks310
Lateral Monster Walks310
Glute Bridges310
Abductors310
Donkey Kicks310
Fire Hydrants 310 
Leg Raises 310 
Lateral Leg Raises 310 
Kickbacks10 
Mountain Climbers10 
Clamshells10 
SAMPLE CORE WORKOUT
ExerciseSetsReps
Assisted Oblique Leg Twists310
Sit Ups310
Assisted V Sit Rows310

Tips to Lose Fat

You’ve probably heard that “abs are made in the kitchen”, right? Well, it IS right!

Photo by picjumbo.com on Pexels.com

Yep, I’m sorry – for those of us who work out hard and eat like slobs, we simply wont get the result we want without tweaking our diets. Sigh.

The good news is, Im not telling you to eat a stick of celery a day for the rest of your life, or even to limit your calories drastically. Its all about WHAT you put into your body.

I constantly say to clients – “you wouldn’t put petrol in a diesel engine, because youd you’d ruin your car. You’ve just got to treat your body with the same respect”. In short, you can eat 1200 calories a day, and think you’re doing great…but if those calories are made up of saturated fat, salt, sugar, and processed crap you wont get the results you want.

First, lets look at exactly what ‘belly fat’ is.

You have three types of fat in your body. Triglycerides circulate in your blood stream. Subcutaneous fat sit right below the skin’s surface. Visceral fat lives in your abdominal cavity, surrounding your internal organs.

Now, your belly fat is likely made up of both subcutaneous and visceral fat. If you can pinch the fat between your fingers, it’s subcutaneous. Visceral fat lies out of reach behind the abdominal wall. Whilst most women I know, and certainly my female clients, would lean towards being more bothered about the soft subcutaneous fat, visceral fat is much more dangerous, having links to cardiovascular disease, breast cancer and type 2 diabetes among other chronic diseases.

The good news about visceral fat is that it responds more readily to diet and exercise than subcutaneous fat, thus it is easier to shift!

Okay, now we’ve gotten that covered, lets look at how to get rid of it!

EXERCISE

First things first – you CANNOT spot reduce fat. Even visceral fat, which only lives in your tummy, cannot be spot reduced with even the most vigorous abs workout. Doing 100 sit ups a day will give you abs, for sure, but they’ll be safely nestled between an outer layer of subcutaneous fat and an inner layer of dangerous visceral fat. Simply put, you wont be able to see them. That is not to say that abs workouts should be abandoned – keep working on them in conjunction with your fat burning exercise.

To reveal those hard-earned abs, you need aerobic and strength-training exercise. Doing at least 40 minutes of moderate-to-high intensity training a week will help shift your body fat. If you struggle to remain interested during a workout, try circuit training. It helps to use full body movements to maximise the amount of muscles being activates, thereby increasing calorie burn.

You can try:

  • Burpees
  • Mountain Climbers
  • Squat-to-Plank jumps
  • Ball Slams
  • Russian Twists
  • High Knee Runs
  • Squat Jumps
  • Inchworms
  • Jumping Jacks
Photo by Wendy Wei on Pexels.com

EAT RIGHT

Eating right is essential, but there a lot of ground to cover.

Calorie Deficit

If you want to be in a calorie deficit, it’s important to know how many calories you need to maintain your weight, taking into account your daily activity levels. This is your Total Daily Energy Expenditure (TDEE). To work out our TDEE, we first need to know our Basal Metabolic Rate (BMR). This is the amount of calories your body burns whilst resting – this is the absolute minimum amount of calories needed to maintain your bodily functions and keep you alive. Think Sleeping Beauty.


To work out your BMR, use the following formula:

655 + (4.35 x weight in pounds) + (4.7 x height in inches) – (4.7 x age in years)

So, lets look at Beth – she’s 13 stone, five foot three and 30 years old, it would look like this:

655 + 791.7 lbs + 63 – 141 = 1368.7

round this up to 1368

NOW to calculate TDEE, we use the following formula:

  • If you rarely exercise, multiply your BMR by 1.2
  • If you exercise on 1 to 3 days per week, multiply your BMR by 1.375
  • If you exercise on 3 to 5 days per week, multiply your BMR by 1.55
  • If you exercise 6 to 7 days per week, multiply your BMR by 1.725
  • If you exercise every day and have a physical job or if you often exercise twice a day, multiply your BMR by 1.9

Beth exercises 1-3 days weekly, so:

1368 x 1.375 = 1881 kcal

Now we know that in order for Beth to just stay alive, she needs 1368 kcal daily. In order for Beth to maintain her weight she needs 1881 kcal. Therefore in order to lose fat, Beth needs less than 1881 kcal but more than 1368 kcal. So, Beth might choose to aim for 1,400 kcal a day, which would put her in stead to lose approximately 1 lb per week.

Avoid Diet Soft Drinks

Drinking soft drinks – even the diet kind – wont help you with your weight loss goals. When you drink a soft drink with artificial sweeteners, it’s like throwing up a flag to your brain to expect something sugary. Your body is slightly less intelligent than you think – it doesn’t know the difference between cane sugar and stevia. In response to this expected sugar surge, your brain will tell your pancreas to produce insulin – which is how the body regulates sugars. Insulin tells your body to either metabolise the sugar as energy, or use it for fat stores. So, when no sugar arrives, your body’s metabolic process is confused, disrupted and will likely store other foods away as fat to satisfy the insulin’s demands.

Instead, increase your water intake! ­­

Eat More Soluble Fibre

Things like avocados, blackberries, brussels sprouts and legumes. Soluble fibre promotes weight loss by helping to regulate and reduce ghrelin levels. Ghrelin is our ‘hunger hormone’; it stimulates your appetite and promotes fat storage as you intake more food. Soluble fibre fights this hormone, helping you to feel fuller for longer.

Increase your protein intake

It takes more energy to burn protein than any other macronutrient! Protein takes 20-30% of total calories to digest, carbs take around 5-10% and fats come in lowly last at 0-3%.

Meaning that for every 10g of protein you eat, once it’s digested, you are left with  7-8 kcal remaining.

Not only that, but protein is one of the most important nutrients in your body, as its used to build and repair tissues, create enzymes, hormones and build muscle, bones and skin.

If you want to lose weight, aim for around 1.5 to 2g of protein per kilogram of body weight.

So for Beth:

82.5 x 1.5g = 123.75g  of protein daily.

Some protein-rich foods are: nuts, eggs, lean meat, low-fat yoghurt, cheese, milk and seeds.

Track Your Intake

Using an app like MyFitnessPal, or even just good old pen-and-paper to track your food intake is invaluable. Firstly, it keeps you on track. But it also keeps you accountable! Working out your macronutrients (how many grams of protein, carbohydrates and fats you need) and making sure you stay within these parameters will have you shedding fat in no time. 

Photo by ready made on Pexels.com

Sleep

Studies have shown that women who get less than 8 hours of sleep a night tend to have more belly fat than those who get less! We have already spoken about ghrelin, but your body produces another hormone called leptin. Think of leptin as the anti-ghrelin. Whilst ghrelin promotes feelings of hunger, leptin inhibits hunger, and therefore promotes your body’s use of fat stores. While the body is awake, your ghrelin levels rise, and your leptin levels fall, so when you’re sleep deprived you tend to feel hungrier and this leads to overeating. Allowing your body a full 8 hour snooze regulates your hormones and promotes leptin production.   

Photo by Ivan Oboleninov on Pexels.com

“I’ve always felt strong…”

She’d popped up on my Instagram when I searched #strongwomen. I scrolled through tons of selfies, pictures of margaritas and then landed on a picture of a woman, looking strong and confident in that signature gym-mirror-selfie…with two prosthetic legs.

Her caption?

“Mirror mirror on the wall, I’ll always get up after I fall and whether I run, walk or crawl, I’ll set my goals and achieve them all.”

I knew right then and there that I needed to reach out to this lady and, if she’d let me, tell her story and spread her message. When I first reached out to Darla on social media, asking to do a piece on her, I was nervous. I braced myself for rejection, or for a message to tell me that I’d upset her by asking. 

So, when she absolutely jumped at the chance to share her story, I was overjoyed – and relieved.

Darla is a proud mother of two, a wife of 27 years and as you can see from her picture, is a bit of a stunner.

Darla describes her life as “pretty normal”, even as a Type 1 Diabetic. “I have always been active,” she told me, “I played sports in high school, was on softball teams in my 20s and then was a soccer coach for me children’s teams in my 30s”.

When she was in her 40s, life threw Darla a curveball. She became unwell and contracted an infection that settled in her feet. Years prior to this, Darla had developed diabetic neuropathy in her feet – a type of nerve damage which affects the way that nerves detect touch and temperature, and commonly affects the hands and feet of diabetics.

Darla had her toes amputated in an attempt to eliminate the infection but then kept developing sores on her feet, which led to bone infection in her feet. “In no time at all” Darla says, “my left foot was amputated in September 2014”. Very soon thereafter, in 2018, Darla’s right foot was also amputated.

As a Type 1 Diabetic myself, who has heard everything from ‘you shouldn’t have eaten so much crap and you wouldn’t be diabetic’ to ‘are you going to die?’ – the answer to which is, of course, yes – but not necessarily because I’m diabetic, more because I’m not immortal – I was interested to find out if Darla has experienced any misconceptions after her amputations.

“The most common misconception I get is that people think I lost my feet in the service,” says Darla, “but when people find out that I lost them due to diabetic complications, they say ‘but you look so healthy!’” Darla shrugs, “but this happens to healthy diabetics too.”

Understandably, after her surgeries, Darla was worried that she’d never walk normally again. “I thought I would have a limp” she explains. Ever the fighter, however, she says that isn’t the case. “I’m trying new things every day to see if I can do them,” she says, “I have a great walk and no limp at all…riding a bike is still a work in progress and cartwheels are very hard”. She laughs when she tells me this, and I love her spirit. She comes across so full of life, so positive, its hard not smile when I look at her messages.

I ask Darla when she felt her strongest as a women. “I have to say, I have always felt like a strong person…I have been thrown some obstacles in life, but I guess I knew I was going to be okay and that I was strong when I took my first steps in my second amputation prosthetic” she says, “at that moment, I knew I was going to be ok”.

I’m so inspired by Darla. She exercises on gym equipment three times a week, walks 2 – 3 miles per day and has such a sunny outlook on life. Despite her condition and amputations, she hasn’t let herself be limited in life and goes after what she wants with a ferocity I can only describe as admirable.

There is no better way to end this article, than with a bit of advice from the lady of the hour. When asked what advice she would give to others in her position, Darla exclaims “DO THE PHYSICAL THERAPY, DO THE PHYSICAL THERAPY! I talk to many amputees that won’t move…they’re scared to talk to other amputees and get advice from them, but most of all DO NOT GIVE UP! This is your new normal, and it WILL become normal”.

Where it began…

Last year, my husband and I uprooted our whole life. He changed jobs. We sold our house. We moved to another city. All because I found a premises where we could open a small, private personal training and group class gym.

I lay awake at night, fretting. What if it didn’t work out? What if no-one came to the gym, and I had thrown away our financial (and emotional) security on a whim?

I started working 7 day weeks, determined to make it happen for us no matter what the cost. I was tired, grumpy, lost all time and interest I had for hobbies previously. I gradually forgot what it was to relax. I used to paint, read, sing; suddenly, I didn’t do any of that. I began worrying that I was giving too much of myself away. Everything I was, every waking moment, was GYM, GYM, GYM. I poured every single ounce of myself into growing our business and told myself it would be worth it, when (not if!) it all fell into place.

February 2020 was our best month since opening, both in terms of members, private clients and money. All those months were finally turning into a kind of tangible success. It was here! FINALLY, after weeks of gruelling effort, not to mention one or two minor breakdowns.

AND THEN

On 20th March 2020, the UK Government announced that businesses in the Hospitality, Leisure and Retail sector who were deemed ‘non-essential’ had to close their doors as part of the response to Covid-19.

My whole world ground to a halt. Everything I had done, everything I had been for months vanished overnight with no indication of when it would return. As of the date of this post, it still hasn’t. The doors are still locked tight and it will likely be a few months before they can open again.

I spent the first few weeks of lockdown moping and lamenting my lot. Worrying that all of that hard work and graft was in vain. Slowly, over the past 6 weeks, I’ve gotten into a routine. I’ve began to cherish the time I can spend with my husband again. I’ve remembered what free time is.

Then, I sat and scrolled through social media. I came across a post from a women – a single mother – who has lost both of her parents to Covid-19 and I suddenly felt ashamed. I had been drowning in self-pity over the temporary closure of my business but…I am safe. My family are safe.

This woman still has to function day to day for her children, having lost the two people who have been in her life since day one.

I couldn’t believe the strength that such an act would take.

SO. I decided to dedicate my new-found free time to finding these women, these amazing women who show such tremendous strength in the face of unimaginable hardship. Women who still push their own limits, where most of us would give up. Women who sacrifice their safety for the benefit of others. Women who overcome the odds.

I have combined my own passion of weight lifting with this, to create Women, Weights and Well-being, which I hope – if nothing else – will bring inspiration, comfort and positivity to women all around the world.

We women have a hard time sometimes, battling against body shaming, public perception, beauty standards and inequality, to mention but a few.

Lets empower each other.
Lets celebrate the strength that the average woman is capable of.