Alas, I had to drop my gym membership. I am shopping around for relatively inexpensive and space-efficient home fitness gear. I am not a serious bodybuilder. I use weight training as a complement for martial arts.
Has anyone gotten good results from training with elastic bands, like the Bodylastics product? It is definitely cheap, and it would not take up much space. Is this product durable? Or is it complete crap?
If you have any other suggestions, please weigh in.
[sub]No pun intended.[/sub]
I go to the gym myself. However, elastic bands are often used in our hospital physiotherapy department. They do a good job of basic toning and would allow you to build a small degree of strength. However, they certainly would not allow you to build strength in the same way graduated increases with a barbell would.
Men’s Health publishes a book called “Home Workout Bible” that isn’t a bad guideline for setting up a home gym; some of there suggestions are cheap, a few space efficient. As you know, your body weight can provide a fair amount of resistance for many exercises. Swiss balls are cheap. Elastics and a jump rope are space efficient. A set of dumbbells or barbells is extremely versatile and a used set need not be that expensive (used fitness equipment is not that hard to find soon after New Years), but of course is less space efficient.
If space is the main issue, another option is Powerblocks. Adjustable dumbbells that fit inside a two foot square, and you get to work with real weight rather than elastic bands. Mine adjust anywhere from 5 to 80 pounds with a simple move of a two-pronged pin.
And really, how can you brag if you exercise with elastic? “I can press 200 pounds!” “I can do 250!” “I can do four rubber bands! Real thick ones!”
I agree, bragging rights for rubber bands are pretty weak. At least if someone makes fun of my elastics, I can just brag with a swift right hook.
Powerblocks, I have to admit, are pretty fucking sweet. Cheap, however, they are not. Like the good doctor said above, it is really easy finding used dumbbells.
I got an entire weight set with full-length bar to make a barbell and short bars for dumbells at either Oshmans or Big 5 sporting goods for like $50 or $60. If you want a bench to go with them, I usually see them at thrift stores for dirt cheap. I find with bands it’s sort of impossible to guage your progress. “That felt easier today…am I getting stronger? Are the bands wearing out? Did I inadvertently loosen the tension somehow?”
The main problem with rubber bands are that you don’t have the same resistance throught the full range of motion. Each repitition starts off easy and gets progressively harder through the range of motion as the band stretches. You don’t have this problem with weights, so weights give you a much more effective workout.
Bands are pretty handy and definitely have their place in training, but not, the way I see it, as a primary source of resistance training. If you want space efficient (and cheap) resistance training gear, get a couple spinlock-type dumbell handles and enough compatible plates to make up any combination you’ll need in the near future and then just buy up when you need it. And a cheap, small bench. All of this equipment can probably be found used very cheaply at garage sales and will not take up much space.
Hell, brand spanking new they would cost…let’s see…just random surfing around digs up a few 30-40 lb sets for under 50 bucks. A cheap bench won’t be much more than that either. Get a chinup bar or find a place sturdy enough to do chins and you have a full body home gym there, as far as I’m concerned.
Sure, not as cheap as a band, but they won’t wear out as quickly and they’re highly upgradeable.
I’d second or third the Powerblocks. I love my freeweights, but they do take up more space than my friend’s Powerblocks do in her home. They’re a lot more versatile than bands, though bands are great because you can take them with you when you travel, and they’re very cheap.
[brief hijack]If you’re also looking for cardio equipment and already have a bike, I’d suggest a trainer like the Minoura. A few months ago, I asked on the Straight Dope about the benefits of stationary bikes versus a trainer where your bike clips in, and the consensus was a trainer. And I’m so happy I have it. I use it about 2-3 times a week, and I’m much stronger and more fit than I was when we got it about two months ago. It’s also very space efficient, and I can use it on more or less any flat surface. And it was a fraction of the cost of a stationary, though on preview I see you’re into martial arts training - that’s probably just as good for cardio.[/brief hijack]