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It's a fact of life that sometimes the gym is not an option. The two most common situations for me are when I am on holiday or travelling away from home on business. Short of carrying some fairly heavy kit around with me, the best overall option is this resistance band from Ripcords.
When you think of resistance bands, you'd be forgiven for thinking that this is something for girls to use when they're doing yoga or a little Pilates. Then you might read promotional literature from the company which suggests that they are incredibly effective. There is a patently untrue claim by the maker that it works your muscles "more effectively than free weights and machines."
The truth is to be found somewhere between these two points. The first thing I had to do was stoically ignore the fact this product was called "Black Sniper". Honestly, is their marketing department crewed by a bunch of geeky twelve year olds?
What you get for your money is a reasonably strong elastic band with durable handles. The company promotes a training method, but it is one I ignored as quickly as the brand name. It is possible to do a range of resistance based exercises with this. They do sell a door hook to be used with this, but my advice is to avoid this like the plague. You are asking for trouble, or at least a shot at an appearance of you've been framed - assuming there's someone with a camera recording when you get twatted.
The best way to use this is with a foot on the cord. If you want to increase the tension, place both feet on it, about eight inches apart. I can chug out bicep and hammer curls, shrugs, shoulder raises both front and lateral. It is difficult to do overhead raises as the length of the cord is a real restraint to anyone over six feet in height.
You can't really do abs with this. Pilates is far more effective at core exercises anyway. You can't really pump your chest with it either, but press ups, raised or standard are always simple enough. At the end of the proverbial day, this device is lightweight and portable. It can let you do the sort of exercise that you would typically have used a towel to achieve before, and it can do it better.
One last piece of advice is to not put too much tension into it. These sort of devices have been known to snap. Getting a replacement free will be little consolation for an injury or damage to a hotel room that you will a) have to explain and b) have to pay for.
Available from Amazon for under a tenner. Worth getting and using. Just take the company claims with a small pinch of salt flat.
Note to self: Don't suggest a product, then wait to review it ;)
Working with weights is fine but when you like a home work out you can quickly run out of space with all the different sizes. I went to a gym class that used resistance bands and I was surprised at how effective they can be. I did the class thinking, "this is going to be too easy" then within seconds of starting my muscles were screaming out for a break! Resistant bands are just as effective as dumbbells or machine weights when used effectively and can the equivalent to lifting 60 + pounds. As they do not take much room up, I decided to copy the gym routine and buy my own bands to use in my home.
==Price and availability==
You could do with a couple of different sizes, the smaller ones are the harder as there offer the most resistance whereas the larger ones are easier to lift and better for different muscle groups. I have two and I paid £11 each from DW Sports. You may not think you are getting much for your money but you do not want a cheap band as it is will snap.
They say, "Ripcords resistance bands work the whole muscle, including the stabilizers where free weights and machines cop out. This means you get a healthier, stronger, look and feel. Resistance training with bands and tubes has long been the physiotherapist's answer to torn rotator cuffs, bad knees and general rehabilitation."
The ripcord does not take much room which means it is perfect for home use. The ripcord has a main body that is covered in a plastic tube with elastic rope running down the middle of it. This has two handles either side and I guess you could say it looks a bit like a skipping rope. The handles are rubber with material handgrips to keep your hands where they should be. If you find you need more resistance the you can wrap your hands around the main rope as well as the hand grips although this is less comfortable then handling the handle alone.
The whole ripcord is well made, strong and robust and despite plenty of use it as not stretched or torn.
==What should you do with it==
There are tonnes of different exercise that you can do with the ripcord and you will not run out of ideas and innovative ways to train. No matter what you do you should aim for 8-25 reps for 2-3 sets per exercise. I like to do the seated row with the ripcord and this is where you stand on it with both feet holding it in the middle of the floor. Pick up each handle (do not move your feet) and lean over slightly bending your knees and keeping your back straight. Then pull your arms back keeping your elbow bent and make a rowing motion. This is a killer! I like to do these as super sets with press ups where I have the ripcord over my back and the handles in my fists as I do some press ups, the extra resistance makes them really hard but it is such a good work out. Another good move is for your triceps; if you stand on one handle and then pull the over handle up your back and over your head then lift the handle up and down, the resistance will pain your triceps but it is a great way to target the bingo wings!
I really like working with these bands and what I like most is the flexibility, you can use them anywhere and they are successful. They are recommended for people with injuries as you are not putting any weight on your body but using your own body weight to control the motion. Every part of the muscle is used and the finished effect is a stronger, healthier body. Sometimes people who weight train are not 'strong' they are just bulky from training, these bands make you strong and give you real muscle that is a lot healthier. I have tried lots of different positions and pulled the bands around so much that I am really impressed with how hard wearing they are. The handles are comfortable and the plastic band is thick and hard. You have to be careful when using these those as if you let go whilst the band is taught, it is not very forgiving when it hits your skin! It is afterall like a giant rubber bang pinging against your legs.
These are such a simple invention but they provide an excellent way to tone up by making you stronger and challenged. There are so many ways you can use them and you can target specific muscle groups easily. If you do super sets and hammer away, you can have a 40 minute weight session in 10 minutes with these bands, they really are that good. If you only want one band at firs then go for a larger one as you can always wrap the rope around your hands to make it tighter giving you more resistance. These are cheap and fun and I am glad to have discovered them. In terms of this particular one, I find it hard wearing and reliable. There has been no stretching out of shape and the quality is really good. The slick black design is much more my taste than the colourful ones you can get.