Warm-ups shouldn’t take a long time – but they should be effective.
One of the most effective ways to warm up – without lugging a bunch of equipment around to do so, are with bands.
There are tons of different types of bands too… rubber ones, silicone, and then there are cotton and latex bands.
Each have their benefits, but for the purpose of this article, I’ll be talking exclusively about the Victorem Gear cotton and latex bands.
Victorem was kind enough to send me the stay at home bundle a few months ago to try out. I’ve been using them basically every day since then & it’s about time I shared with you the best uses I’ve found for them, and how they’ve become an integral part of my warm-up routine.
The pre-swim shoulder warm-up
Having been dealing with a rolled ankle the past few weeks (yay), I’ve been doing a lot of swimming.
Swimming involves (as you likely know) constant shoulder movement, so while it’s less of an impact activity as running, the impact on the shoulders could be damaging without proper strengthening and warming.
For a swim warm-up, I focus mostly on the upper body. The quickly little routine I do looks something like this:
- 3 sets of
- 20 pull-aparts
- 20 1-arm raises (ea)
- 20 chest presses
Pull-aparts are performed with what Victorem calls the fabric pull-up bands. These are the longer skinny bands with a longer stretch to them. Here, you grab each end of the band, palms facing down, and pull the band apart until it touches your chest – where the band will be at full tension – then release back forward and repeat.
It’s great to start with the lighter resistance bands and then move to the heavier ones as you make your way through the sets – slowly warming up the shoulders without jumping in too fast.
Next, one-arm raises are done by standing on the band with one foot, and with the same side arm, pulling the band up overhead while keeping a straight elbow. You almost definitely need the lightest band for these as even just a tiny bit of resistance goes a long way.
The only negative with the cotton bands is they don’t stretch quite as far as rubber, so if you’re a tall lanky person (me), you may not be able to extend all the way overhead
Lastly, chest presses are done with the bands held in each hand, wrapped around your back, simulating a pushup movement. These are a great pre-cursor to doing actual pushups in a warm up, and attack the front of the shoulder vs the pull-aparts and raises doing more of the posterior side.
The pre-run hip warm-up
The stay active at home bundle also includes hip bands.
These are thicker (3-4 inches) and shorter bands specifically designed for the lower body.
They won’t stretch very far, and some of them are actually extremely resistant, so you can get some quality work in.
The nice thing about the added width here is that they don’t slide up your legs or move around at all really. Where you put them, is where they stay.
Similar to the swim warm-up, I’ve started to incorporate these bands in run warm-ups to get the hips firing. The routine for the run looks like this:
- 3 sets of
- 20 Banded side steps (ea. direction)
- 10 banded squats
For each the side steps and the squats, I start with the lighter of the hip bands about half way up the thigh of both legs.
The side steps are simple. Slightly bed the knees, and slowly step sideways 20 times, stretching the band as far as it will go (it’s not far). Varying the bend in your knees will hit different portions of the hips & obliques – so play around and vary your stance for some added work.
Banded squats are exactly what they sound like. With the band half way up the thigh, squat so your hips are below your knees, and the real key with the bands is constantly pulling your legs apart and applying tension against the band. These will hit an entire range of motion of hip flexor and abdominal muscles which make it perfect for both run and lifting warm-ups.
Cotton vs rubber bands
When Victorem first contacted me, I hadn’t really ever heard of cotton/latex bands, and certainly hadn’t used them before.
In using them for the last few months, these are the main observations (good and bad) between the two:
- Cotton bands simply don’t have as much elasticity to them as 100% rubber bands do. While they have latex incorporated, cotton has a finite stretch to it and eventually you hit a dead end with them. It didn’t pop up much, only in trying to stretch the band from standing on it to fully overhead – but I’m also 6’1″ with a 6’4″ wing span, so maybe that’s just a ‘me’ problem.
- By this I mean having the bands stay put. Rubber bands tend to roll & slide and get all bunched up in places where you don’t want them – with the Victorem bands, I never experienced this once. They had enough tack to them to stay where you put them removing the worry of a sudden ‘snap’ in an.. inopportune place.
- Didn’t expect to read that did you? Rubber bands smell, like rubber. Sometimes strongly. And sometimes, that smell stays with you on your hands (not super fun). The cotton/latex ones smell like, well, nothing. Big plus in my opinion.
I’ll admit – I was skeptical. Thinking this was another up & coming brand trying to do something different in a niche that didn’t need much change.
Well, while you could still argue that a band is a band, there is something to be said for the differences Victorem provides with their cotton bands.
Sturdy, effective, non-smelly bands that stay put (oh, and that come in their own little travel bags) and cost significantly less than the leading industry competitor? Yeah, that’s a win for these guys & gals.
The only negative really came from their inability to stretch SUPER far because of the limitation of the cotton thread, but it didn’t rear it’s head too often and there was always a way around it.
So whether you’re choosing to use bands for warm-ups like I have been, or if you’re using them for at home workouts (could easily kick your own butt with these) – I’d start right here and wouldn’t look back.