Are dumbbells better than elastic bands? Or vice versa? The answer: Both are good and can be combined for great results.
The main difference is that when you lift dumbbells you hold the same weight throughout the movement. When you use resistance bands the resistance changes in relation to how much you stretch the band. As you stretch out the band, the exercise gets progressively tougher.
Because bands provide a different way to simulate the muscles, combining them with dumbbells on the same exercise can increase the strength and the rate of forced development.
I’ve created a program where you’ll use the elastic bands and dumbbells at the same time. The exercises will be performed on a physioball, which helps with the core; lower-limb muscle strength; abdominal, lower back and lower leg endurance; flexibility; and dynamic balance.
Incorporate this routine two times a week: one day with fewer reps and heavier weight and another day the opposite way.
This routine will make your core sore in a good way, so there’s no need to add another session to work them. I don’t advise to go too heavy since you’ll have to overcome the resistance from both the dumbbells and the elastic bands and you won’t have any breaks, neither when you shorten (concentric contraction) the muscle nor lengthening (eccentric contraction) it. Throughout this workout you will be engaging your core.
The All-In-One workout
Beginners: Do one circuit (one exercise after another without rest), use just the elastic band and then add the weights as you progress. Keep the reps in the range of 15-20.
Intermediate/advanced: Perform 3 to up to 4 circuits. One week, either use heavier weights or add more resistance through the band to shoot for 10-12 reps. However, it’ll be hard to keep the full range of motion of the exercise if you increase the resistance from the band too much. Another day, go lighter with 15-20 reps.
Rubber band pull over: Extend your arms as much as you can, then bring them back to the upper chest level
Chest Press: Bring your arms flexed up to 90 degree angle. Don’t go lower or you can stress the shoulder too much. Bring them back and hold the contraction for 2 seconds.
Tricep extension: Lower your arms as much as you can while keeping the arms close to your face and elbows in.
Bicep Curl: Keep your shoulders down and don’t bring the elbows forward. Keep your arms close to your body.
Row: Back straight, chest up and close the scapula together.
Rear shoulder raises: Back straight, chest up, fully extend your arms and hold the contraction for two seconds. Fully extend until they are parallel to the floor.
Side punch: The lower back should be on the ball at all times. Lift your body using the side of your abdominals while keeping the lower body on the ball. Control the move. Reach out every time you extend the arm to the opposite side.
Trunk rotations: Keep the upper back on the ball. Feel a full stretch of both arms toward one side and then, using the abdominals, bring the arms to the opposite side without lifting your body from the ball.
Note: You’ll need a Physioball and dumbbells. When choosing the ball, a good measure for selecting the height is to make sure that this is knee height, and when you sit your tights are parallel to the floor or at a 90-degree angle. Attach the elastic band to a sturdy piece, like an exercise station, Smith machine or power rack.
Keep your hips tight at all times. Don’t allow the hips to sag.
Marta Montenegro inspires people to live healthy lives by giving them the tools and strength to find one’s inner athlete through her personal website MartaMontenegro.com. She created SOBeFiT, a national fitness magazine for men and women, and the Montenegro Method DVD workout series – a program she designed for getting results in just 21 days by exercising 21 minutes a day . Marta is a strength and conditioning coach and serves as an adjunct professor of exercise physiology at Florida International University.