It's no coincidence that there are a higher number of females involved in personal or group fitness training compared to their male counterparts. As a fitness camp owner and trainer, this is definitely the case when it comes to our band bootcamp enrollment. It is also well noted that resistance bands, used as a strength training tool, creates significantly less anxiety towards strength training for women. With the opportunity to train so many female clients using resistance bands, I have found both of these scenarios to be true. As a result I have discovered specific band training tips and recommendations, that when correctly implemented, help guarantee a positive strength training experience for the female fitness enthusiasts.
1. Typically women train upper body strength using red small and black medium size bands. The only exception to this is horizontal pulling, where some female clients are able to train with purple large bands. If for some reason purple bands are not available, they will combine a black and red band together to create an equal level resistance.
2. Teaching and training lower body strength exercises like horizontal vector lunges, front squats, split squats, reverse lunges, or horizontal vector lateral lunges should always come before doing any band attached locomotion training. These stationary, one step drills teach women, who often have frontal plane hip weakness, how to decelerate with control while performing slow, short amplitude movements that are safe and easily mastered. Performing a minimum of 2 training sessions using some of these exercises usually provides for a successful transition into higher velocity 4 step running drills.
3. In general female clients can struggle with deceleration, which is important to note when starting to consider incorporating band running drills that require a higher level of deceleration control. I recommend teaching locomotion drills like shuffling, backpedaling or stationary forward running without bands at first, before incorporating bands into their training. Once ready for bands, I suggest using a linked up black medium band setup for adult female clients. Begin by teaching them how to accelerate out and walk back to help assist with deceleration control. As they start to demonstrate better deceleration control on the return, they can begin to increase both their acceleration speed and deceleration return speed.
4. Partner resisted running involves clients completing 15 to 20 yards of resisted shuffling, forward running or backpedaling, while an attached holding partner provides a moving resistance for them to run against. With women as well as with men, this exercise requires effective holding and deceleration control. As a result I will use a linked up black band set up which will provide appropriate partner separation distance with a holder friendly resistance. As clients begin to demonstrate potential over-stretching the bands, I will upgrade the system to purple large bands.
5. Handles are a must for upper body female band training for 2 significant reasons.
A. Female client's hands are typically more sensitive and therefore do not tolerate having only the band pressed against their hand.
B. In most cases females train upper body using a 1/2′ or 3/4′ wide band (orange, red or black) which are narrower bands that can easily become irritable to their hands. Adding in training handles, decreases surface area pressure which increases training comfort.
C. Lastly handles create a neuromuscular stabilization response that helps females stabilize better through what, in 80% of women, is often a hyper-mobile shoulder joint. Better stabilization of the shoulder complex will allow them to generate better muscle recruitment which will result in better strength production.
6. Dynamic stabilizer (12 inch long) bands are a female favorite. Used to train hip stabilization, the dynamic stabilizer does an excellent job of strengthening the gluteus medius which in most females is often weak. Performing simple lateral band walks allows females to actually feel the butt muscles working. Following this exercise with a simple squat, lunge or single leg squat, allows for significantly better movement quality of these movements due to highly activated hip stabilizing muscles.
7. Women in general want to get better at pull-ups and pushups. Using a variety of single band resistance levels provides for assistance and successful completion of these movements which in turn builds greater confidence towards doing these common body weight exercises.
8. Using orange bands to activate and challenge the core during pillar training is also a popular exercise with females. The band proprioceptively turns on the trunk by teaching women where to engage their abs. Using orange bands to resistance these isometric movements once a body weight pillar has been mastered, is an easy progression to incorporate.