For years and years, “working out” meant grabbing some dumbbells, kettlebells or barbells, and then start “pumping iron.” Why? Because (1) resistance training does, in fact, cause our muscles to adapt and strengthen, and (2) because the muscular physique was, and to some extent still is, considered a sign of “fitness.” And of course, for many, aesthetically pleasing.
But for too many people, pumping iron was boring or intimidating, and not very convenient if you did not belong to a gym or were not interested in buying the iron to pump. That void needed to be filled, as too many people were not getting access to fitness programming and their fitness and health were suffering. As a result, the bodyweight workout gained popularity. Many people preferred the freedom and convenience of bodyweight workouts, and more and more evidence showed that weightlifting may achieve an aesthetic goal, but it actually inhibited natural, functional movement, increasing the risk of injury. Simply growing muscles did not, in fact, make you “fit” or healthy.
The bodyweight and weightlifting camps have existed ever since. As the evidence mounted that simply building muscle was not, in and of itself, healthy, part of the weightlifting community moved away from static lifting and to what they have termed "functional" resistance training: combining weights with more complex movements, to train the body to move more functionally under resistance. So now we see a lot of programming using dumbbells, kettlebells, barbells and other static weights combined with some rudimentary movements intended to help us combine the benefits of loading our muscles with resistance while allowing the body to move at least a little bit more freely.
Unfortunately, neither the free weight nor bodyweight camps are capable of delivering the most optimal and efficient workout, because they both lack what the other one has. Free weights, by their very nature, restrict natural movement. Your body is not free to move as it would naturally move if you are forced to hold weights in your hands or on your shoulders! This is not surprising, because free weights were invented centuries ago, when weightlifting was meant to build static strength and nothing else. They were never intended to be used while moving dynamically. Furthermore, while free weights overload muscles, they also overload joints and connective tissues, increasing the risk of injury.
Bodyweight workouts, while allowing complete freedom of movement, simply cannot apply enough resistance to deliver the very real fitness benefits of overloading our muscles. On average, only about 60% of our bodyweight is applied as resistance during bodyweight exercises. If you are looking for real results, and prefer not to workout for hours and hours, bodyweight alone is not going to get the job done.
We have lived with this stubborn trade-off for years, and as a result, have had to live with less time-efficient, less productive workouts, resulting in less results than we would like.
BRIDGING THE GAP
So how do we bridge the longstanding gap between bodyweight workouts, which allow the body to move as it was intended to move, and the well-documented benefits of overloading our muscles with resistance? The answer lies in maximizing our muscles’ time under tension, while also allowing freedom of movement.
TIME UNDER TENSION
The exercise concept of time under tension has long been accepted as a way to increase the length of muscle activation and therefore the productivity of an exercise. This practice has historically been done while weightlifting, by slowing down the speed of a lift, typically in the eccentric motion. Envision a weightlifter doing a dumbbell bicep curl, and then slowly letting the dumbbell go back down. Some lifters will also contract their muscles isometrically after a set for the same reason, to extend the amount of time their muscles are under tension. These practices fatigue the muscle more quickly and completely, for a more efficient, productive workout. The problem, of course, is that this type of time under tension is being applied to muscle groups statically, and in isolation.
Long before bodybuilders did this, martial artist Bruce Lee would do the same thing without weights. He would make slow, fluid movements with just his bodyweight, tensing one group of muscles against another to create the same kind of tension, but at the same time making real functional movements. Unlike weightlifters, who were training their muscles purely for size and aesthetic gains, Mr. Lee understood that it was the combination of tension and natural movement that was, in fact, the truest and most beneficial form of functional resistance. But he also understood that bodyweight resistance alone, even under self-imposed tension, was not enough, so he still supplemented his workouts with weight training.
So how do we bridge the gap and deliver the most time-efficient, productive combination of unencumbered bodyweight movement and resisted time under tension? The answer lies in wearable resistance bands.
WEARABLE DYNAMIC VARIABLE TENSION
A wearable dynamic resistance training system breaks down the long-standing barrier between the benefits of resistance training and the true functional freedom of bodyweight workouts, and the implications are profound. By placing the body under almost constant tension, but allowing it to move with the freedom of bodyweight, the most efficient, productive and truly functional resistance training is now possible. Rather than resistance training muscle groups in relative isolation with natural movement inhibited by static weights, you can place the body under the no-mass, no-impact resistance of resistance bands and allow it to move freely. The resistance itself weighs almost nothing, so there is no undue stress to joints or added impact. The body is trained as it actually moves, as a single unit, not as a collection of muscle groups all working independently. True functional resistance in its most beneficial form.
It’s time we stop training muscles independently, and then hoping they will somehow work well together, nor should we forgo the benefits of resistance training and settle for bodyweight training with its endless reps, minimal muscle activation and diminishing returns. Though many experts at the forefront of exercise physiology have already come to understand this, the fitness industry has yet to catch up. It is still promoting the false choice between “functional” resistance training with antiquated tools ill-designed for the task and the most inefficient of all workouts, the bodyweight workout.
If you are ready to discover the best of both worlds, and to receive the simplest, most versatile, most productive and body-friendly workout possible, then the wearable dynamic resistance training system was made for you. Say goodbye to the status quo that has only been holding you back, and say hello to a better way to train.
To learn more about the leader in dynamic variable resistance training systems, go to wearbands.com.