Stretching and Flexibility Archives

Improve Strength, Speed and Agility with Resitance Bands Workouts

Using Resistance Bands

When it comes to strength training, most people go to the gym to use weight machines or free weights. But have you ever considered training without weights or machines? Do you want to develop a stronger core, more lean muscle mass and get rid of fat faster? Have you ever tried resistance bands or tubing? If you haven’t and you would like to improve your strength and power then you definitely should give resistance bands a go. This is not to say that you should not lift weights but there are alternative ways to improving your physique without going into the gym 5 days a week.

Resistance bands are being used by elite level trainers and professional athletes around the world to help develop functional strength and power. The great thing with resistance bands is anyone can use them. They are relatively cheap, easy to store, light and portable so you can travel with them. This gives you the flexibility do your workouts wherever you like (i.e. at home, outdoor training).

Versatility of Resistance Bands

Resistance bands can be used by anyone no matter what your fitness goal. Whether it is toning, strength training, speed and agility training or training for a particular sport there are resistance band workouts and exercises that will get you results fast. If increasing your metabolism to get leaner is your fitness goal then doing total body circuit workouts will help. Resistance bands are very versatile and make performing these kinds of workouts easy.

They are also an awesome stretching aid which if used correctly will improve flexibility and mobility of joints and muscles.  Muscle recovery is made easier by using bands which is  important for any sport or exercise program . The  bands used for stretching are most commonly known as Therabands.

How Resistance Bands Work

Resistance bands are different to weights in that they are not dependant on gravity. Weights like dumbbells, kettle bells and medicine balls are good for certain things but they only provide resistance vertically (i.e. one plane).  Resistance bands differ in that they can effectively provide resistance in all different directions. Our muscles have fibres that go in various directions so it is important to train our muscles in different planes. Training our muscles in multiple planes of motion will impact the entire muscle and create leaner, longer and functionally stronger muscles.

Finally, as mentioned previously they are great for improving functional strength and specific movement for sport and are being used by the world’s top athletes today because of the results they get with resistance band training. The reasons behind this are that they simply improve your ability to decelerate more efficiently.

Why is deceleration important?

Most injuries happen because of the inability to decelerate and change direction effectively. Functional exercises which involve a combination of acceleration, deceleration and change of  direction, forces the muscles to constantly react and adapt. This leads to muscle  strength in all planes of movement improving stabilisation, balance and control during movement.

Recovery is a vital part of any training program whether you are an elite athlete or just someone who hits up the gym to improve your strength and fitness. In any training program whether it be speed and agility, strength and conditioning or a general fitness program it is important that recovery becomes a planned activity.

A good recovery will help your muscles and connective tissues to repair faster allowing you to train harder and more effectively the next time you are out there.

What is Recovery?

Recovery is basically the time it takes the body to repair itself from the damage (stress) caused by training. During recovery a complex process takes place which includes refueling the muscle and liver glycogen stores (carbohydrates), replacing nutrients lost through sweat and developing new muscle proteins require for growth.

Why is Recovery so Important?

- Appropriate recovery accelerates the regeneration rate between training and competitions

- It increases the quality and quantity of training

- Reduces the risk of developing overtraining

- Reduces the risk of injury

- Adequate and appropriate recovery can enhance performance

It is important to understand that there are several different methods of recovery and how a certain athlete recovers will vary depending on personal preference, the type of training, time constraints and the resources that are available to that person or group of athletes.

Popular Recovery Interventions:

Rest and Sleep

Adequate rest and sleep is the most effective recovery tool. Sleep is where the physical and psychological restoration occurs through hormonal secretion and is critical in ensuring maximal recovery. The quantity and quality of sleep is also very important as in deeper sleep phases the body heals quicker. It is important to note that sleep disturbance is often a sign of overtraining so if you are constantly waking up in the middle of the night then it could be from overdoing it a bit. Developing good sleep habits is very important.

Active Recovery (Cool Down after training)

This enhances the removal of lactate by increasing blood flow through movement. An active recovery will help recovery of force from eccentric damage and will reduce soreness and stiffness of your muscles.


It is generally accepted that increasing flexibility of a muscle-tendon unit produces better performances and reduces the number of injuries. Stretching increases the range of motion and enhances recovery in that it relaxes the muscle. This is best achieved by short static stretches of around 6-10 seconds.

Proper Nutrition

Nutritional Recovery Aims:

- Replenish and maximize energy (glycogen) stores in the body

- Replace lost fluids

- Repair muscle damage

- Protect immune system function

Some form of carbohydrate is essential immediately after training. This replenishes glycogen stores and kick starts the recovery process. The next thing the body needs is protein for muscle recovery and repair. Fluid is then used for rehydration.


Massage reduces the severity of muscle soreness, enhances relaxation and has shown positive effects on recovery from a psychological perspective. It is important to note that self massage is possible if you cannot get to a massage therapist or you don’t have a really nice girlfriend/boyfriend to give you one.


Compression garments are becoming increasingly popular today. Research suggests that graduated compression wear improves muscle oxygenation during actual exercise and reduces muscle soreness after training.

Psychological means

Some studies have shown that athletes who are aggressive, tense, and act in a compulsive manner do not recover as well and therefore have a higher risk of injury than those that are more relaxed. So being able to unwind after a workout is essential. This could involve anything from dinner with friends, a walk on the beach, listening to music or doing some form of meditation.

Periodised Training Program

Periodisation involves altering your exercise and training to target certain benefits at a certain time of the year. Athletes have been using periodised programs for years to help them “peak” for big events. This will obviously vary for the type of sport or activity you are preparing for and require careful planning. For the everyday person it is also beneficial to do this so as to avoid over training. The body thrives on variation so don’t just train the same over and over again. This way will reach a plateau you can’t get past and it becomes boring to say the least.

Hydrotherapy (Cold water immersion, Hot water immersion and Contrast Water Therapy)

How is Contrast Therapy thought to Work?

- Increased blood flow

- Stimulates the central nervous system

- Increases range of motion

- Decreases stiffness, soreness and muscle damage

- Increase removal of metabolites

Contrast water therapy may include the use of spas, contrast showers where pressured jets of water hit the muscles. Always drink fluids before, during and after this therapy and maintain other recovery techniques like proper nutrition. Ice baths are also useful and are commonly used to treat soft tissue sports injuries. They can be used in conjunction with a spa session and the benefits include decreased pain sensation, muscle spasm and inflammation.

dynamic stretching is the best way to stretch Strength and conditioning trainers are constantly looking for the best ways to improve sport performance. The specific techniques used to train sport specific strength, speed and agility are of great importance but I believe warm-up for the match or training session is just as important as the actual training or the game. A good warm-up will enhance physical performance and obviously a bad warm-up will have the opposite effect.

For a long time it was considered beneficial to do a light jog for warm up followed by a series of static stretches. Static stretching involves stretching a particular muscle to a certain tension and then holding the stretch for 10 or so seconds. New research has shown though that static stretching can actually be detrimental to performance and it does not prevent injury.

The more recent approach which is used by most of the world elite athletes is the dynamic warm-up which provides the athlete with a more active preparation for their sports match, event or training. Dynamic stretching has been used by track and field athletes for years, and is only recently been incorporated more in other sports such as cricket, tennis, football, rugby and baseball.

A good warm-up starts with some light cardio until the athlete breaks into a sweat. This raises the body’s core temperature enough to enhance the elasticity of muscles, tendons, ligaments and overall joint structures to get the athlete ready for the training or game ahead. I like to do some jogging and then skipping usually. Some days when I am doing agility sessions or before matches I like to incorporate some agility drills through a speed and agility ladder. I find this one great for before games because I feel more mentally prepared for what lies ahead.

After the body is nice and warm it is time to get into the dynamic part of the warm-up which involves specific movements like leg swings, walking lunges, high knees, wall drills, but kicks. There are several different exercises that you can do to warm-up and depending on the sport or activity you are preparing for these can vary. The way you should conduct these moving stretches are by setting up two cones about 20 meters apart and do each stretch out to the cone that is 20 meters away and then jog back. I usually complete 1-2 sets of each stretch. The whole warm up should take around 15 minutes.

After the training or game it is important that we dont just go and sit down straight away.  This is when we need to do a cool down. During an intense session or game your body goes through a number of stressful processes. Muscle fibers, tendons and ligaments get damaged, and waste products build up within your body. A good cool down routine will assist your body in its repair process. This is very important in preventing muscle soreness that usually hits you the next day and often a couple of days after training. The cool down routine will depend on the type of training you have just done so if you did a lot of running it may involve a light jog for 5 min followed by a series of static or pnf stretching exercises. Nutrition and rehydration is also important and should be incorporated into the cool down.