‘Band Wagon’

If you have Instagram (which you obviously do, ah doh), you’ve seen the increasingly popular banded exercise trend. Squatting with bands, kickbacks with bands, hip thrusts with bands… And you get the picture(s). So what’s this miracle science all about? Have bands replace weights in this female oriented booty blast craze?! And yes. I am being gender specific here. Because while the odd power lifter might have bands in his big arsenal of gym tools and accessories (easily identified as an over full duffel covered in chalk), you don’t see the average bro running out to get a set of bishbands.
*side note, if you don’t know what bishbands are, do you even fitness?

So, here’s the thing. Incorporating bands into your training are actually a great way to improve power, strengths and even hypertrophy. Yea, I said it. Hypertrophy. So maybe these girls are on to something.

Here’s the breakdown. Bands offer an ascending strength curve for the concentric range.  In lamens terms, think as you shorten the muscle. Such as sitting deeeeeeeep deep down in a squat, you’ll actually result in more tension as you come out of this position. In the bottom, you’re experiencing minimal tension. This is the normal load, but you’ll require greater than normal strength and power to push up, because as you pull further away from the bottom, the tension increases. Again, as you return back down to the bottom position, the tension deloads. And so on and so forth as you squat your little, or in this case maybe big, booty away.

Disclaimer. Doing simple banded exercises. I mean the non weighted kind, will not have this same effect. For instance, simple doing crab walks, monster walks, little kicks, whatever you wanna call it, are a great way to engage muscles, or burn them out. So these exercises still have their use at the beginning or end of an exercise. They’re also great for ppl learning to use new muscle for the first time (mind muscle connection). Or for people with muscle imbalances. A personal example being that I always have a weaker VMO (inside aspect of the thigh). I often use a band around my knees when squatting to force myself to push out, therefore engaging this muscle to work. It’s a proprioceptive response. The band around my knees forces me to consciously push them apart, opposed to buckling inwards. Otherwise, it will fall. But that is no way effects my overall strength curve. I am very specifically targeting a small muscle to engage, and over time catch up. So technically yes, it is gaining strength, but I digress.

Conclusion, bands are really just another way to force adaptive response. If you’re not trying something new or challenging yourself, your body has no reason to change. Bands are great plateau busters, as tension is a great way to increase difficulty without actually addicting additional weight.  It kicks into a different kind of response, that can shock the system, and provides a graded strength curve. So go for it, jump on that “band wagon”. Just remember there is a right and wrong way to do it if you’re actually looking to grow that booty, and not just make it dance.

Your fitbetch
JP xox

The gym and germs

Since a special someone of mine is at home sick, I thought it would be relevant to touch on how the cold can affect your training, and visa versa. The fall is a time of rampant viruses. Change of seasons, less daylight and a number of other things that can throw you out of whack. And while the cozy comfort of pumpkin spice everything may sooth your soul, there are no answers in the swirling foam.

Firstly, I think it’s important to note that exercising will reduce your risk of getting sick, it has great immunity boosting properties, as well benefits for reducing stress, inflammation and regulating blood sugar and pressure. So with all these health and immunity boosting properties, couldn’t exercise get those endorphins flowing and coax your body back into feeling fab?
So, the overall consensus is that gym rats report fewer colds and other flu-like symptoms than our non gym inclined peers. This of course is within reason, there is obviously a point where you can go to far and increase the stress on your system. This is why often people get what they call a “prep cold”. If you exercise hard or for a long period of time, with little recovery, there may be a window afterwards when your immunity is suppressed and you are more likely to catch a cold or other bug. According to David Pyne: “A really intense and/or prolonged bout of exercise can lead to a temporary impairment in the immune system. Basically in the hours and the day after, you need to be mindful of that.” This is why I personally always take 1000mg of high quality vitamin C post workout, in addition to its cortisol reducing properties.
You’re probably wondering by now “well can I, or can I not exercise!? Get to the point”! Well good news, the answer is yes! As always, within reason. Exercise may even help you feel better by opening your nasal passages and temporarily relieving nasal congestion (bonus, pre workout and extra fun supplements like ephedrine are great nasal decongestants). As a general guideline, exercise is usually OK if your symptoms are all “above the neck.” I.e., seeking, coughing, sore threat, and other general yuckiness. Contraindications would be symptoms such as chest congestion, hacking cough or upset stomach. A.k.A “below the neck”. Also avoid exercise if you have a fever, fatigue or widespread muscle aches. This generally indicates a full on flu, which is serious business. Your body needs major rest! Also, stay home! Don’t spread that stuff, especially in a grimy gym, rubbing your paws all over everything. While we on the topic, also avoid subways, babies, coffee shops, nursing homes, and other germ ridden places, gross.

Since I wouldn’t be me if I didn’t throw some science at you (and would you even believe anything I say), here’s a fun little study. Thomas G. Weidner, Ph.D., of Ball State University in Munice Indiana, took 50 moderately fit student volunteers, who were divided randomly into two groups: exercising and non-exercising. Each volunteer was injected with the cold germs (areal nice guy right)? and then tracked each student for a period of ten days. Each subjects was required to keep a daily log of physical activity. The exercise group worked out either by running, biking or using a step machine for 40 minutes every day, at no more than seventy percent of their maximum capacity (measured by heart rate reserve). Now I know, this isn’t weight lifting. And I will be quite honest, weight lifting and cardio definitely have different physiological effects. But, in terms of quality, it’s some good qualify peer reviewed research.

Anyhow… Upon completion of the study and after analysis of exercise data, symptom severity, and actual mucous weight measurements, there was shown to be no significant difference in symptom severity or duration in the exercise group or in their inactive counterparts. Overall conclusion, exercising at a moderate intensity level does not intensify cold symptoms or compromise the immune system. Ta Da!!

So there you have it my loves! Move your booties, clear up those nasal passages, and shake it off! Unless you have the black lung or consumption, then leave your sick ass home 😉

Your fitbetch,

JP xoxo