Wednesday, July 12, 2017

A Set of Elastic Bands W/ Adequate Resistance Can Fully Replace the Gym When You're Travelling - True or False?!

If you're doing only single-joint aka isolation exercises, you could fully replace your gym with a complete set of resistance training bands.
Wouldn't it be nice if all you had to do to be able to continuously make progress in the gym while you're traveling without even having to go there... I mean, to a gym? That's obviously a rhetorical question - a question the results of a recent study from the Norges Teknisk-Nnaturvitenskapelige Universitet in Trondheim, Norway (Iversen 2017), suggests that it can be answered in the affirmative... almost, at least, if you pack one or multiple (in that case with various resistances), elastic bands, whenever you travel.

Ah, and no... before you ask, the disclosure statement says the authors have "no potential conflict of interest".
Read more about exercise-related studies at the SuppVersity

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The fact that they used TheraBands® in the ERB (elastic resistance bands) group is thus probably a means to make the results representative of the results the largest group of resistance trainees would see. Speaking of groups, to elucidate, whether elastic resistance bands (ERB) can be a viable option to conventional resistance-training equipment (CRE) during multi-joint resistance exercises (for single-joint exercises this has already been proven), the authors compared muscular activation levels in four popular multiple-joint exercises performed with
  • ERB (TheraBand®) vs. 
  • CRE (Olympic barbell or cable pulley machines). 
In a cross-over design, men and women (n = 29) performed squats, stiff-legged deadlifts, unilateral rows and lateral pulldown using both modalities.
Figure 1: Overview of the EMG activity of training with resistance band (REB) vs. barbell & machines (CER) - The muscle activity is sign. reduced only during squats (Iversen 2017).
The scientists multilevel mixed-effects linear regression analyses of main and interaction effects, and subsequent post hoc analyses were used to assess differences between the two resistance-training modalities showed that...
  • when all is said and done, the gym is still superior: CRE induced higher levels of muscle activation in the prime movers during all exercises (p < .001 for all comparisons), compared to muscle activation levels induced by ERB.
  • on a per exercise basis, it's yet just the squat, where the muscle activation suffers significantly: the magnitude of the differences was marginal in lateral pulldown and unilateral rows and for the erector spinae during stiff-legged deadlifts; in squats, however, the quadriceps femoris activations were substantially lower for ERB.
The authors also found that the differences between ERB and CRE were mostly observed during the parts of the contractions where the bands were relatively slack, whilst the differences were largely eliminated when the bands became elongated in the end ranges of the movements.
Used correctly - REBs can augment your strength gains in the gym, too.
So what's the verdict? True or false!? Well, the scientists' conclusion that "ERB can be a feasible training modality for lateral pulldowns, unilateral rows and to some extent stiff-legged deadlifts, but not for the squat exercise" says it all. It depends on which body part you're training. The band may not be ideal for squats and thus leg training, but you can replace your gym with something as simple as a set of resistance bands, ... at least in the short run (a study confirming identical gains is still warranted, though, because EMG ≠ gainz, but the 'novelty effect', alone, should help you maintain or even gain muscle over those 1-2 weeks).

What? Oh yes, your guns... well, you must have overread that in the body of the article: Aboodarda, et al (2011, 2013 & 2016), Andersen et al. (2010), Brandt et al. (2013), or Jacobson (2012 & 2014) are only six out of many studies showing increases in strength and/or size with ERB training for single-joint exercises as you'd do them for your biceps and triceps - so there's reason to be afraid of losing your guns | Comment on Facebook!
  • Aboodarda, Saied, et al. "Electromyographic activity and applied load during high intensity elastic resistance and nautilus machine exercises." Journal of human kinetics 30 (2011): 5-12.
  • Aboodarda, Saied Jalal, et al. "Resultant muscle torque and electromyographic activity during high intensity elastic resistance and free weight exercises." European Journal of Sport Science 13.2 (2013): 155-163.
  • Aboodarda, Saied Jalal, Phillip A. Page, and David George Behm. "Muscle activation comparisons between elastic and isoinertial resistance: A meta-analysis." Clinical Biomechanics 39 (2016): 52-61.
  • Andersen, Lars L., et al. "Muscle activation and perceived loading during rehabilitation exercises: comparison of dumbbells and elastic resistance." Physical therapy 90.4 (2010): 538-549.
  • Brandt, Mikkel, et al. "Perceived loading and muscle activity during hip strengthening exercises: comparison of elastic resistance and machine exercises." International journal of sports physical therapy 8.6 (2013): 811.
  • Iversen, Vegard M., et al. "Multiple-joint exercises using elastic resistance bands vs. conventional resistance-training equipment: A cross-over study." European Journal of Sport Science (2017): 1-10.
  • Jakobsen, Markus Due, et al. "Muscle activity during knee‐extension strengthening exercise performed with elastic tubing and isotonic resistance." International journal of sports physical therapy 7.6 (2012): 606.
  • Jakobsen, Markus Due, et al. "Effectiveness of hamstring knee rehabilitation exercise performed in training machine vs. elastic resistance: electromyography evaluation study." American journal of physical medicine & rehabilitation 93.4 (2014): 320-327.