functional band training FLEXVIT

Functional Band Training

The Functional Band Training – in short FBT: The fact that sport and physical activity have numerous protective (preventive) and healing (rehabilitative) effects on the human body is an insight that was already taught as wisdom in the ancient Greek schools of philosophy by Plato and Aristotle. Many people today go to a gym for fitness training in order to be able to use the training infrastructure available there and to get exercise and distraction. There, the training often takes place on equipment that many private individuals find overpriced and takes up too much space. It is legitimate to ask why it should be necessary to do sporting exercises exclusively on heavy and bulky equipment in order to feel stronger, fitter and lighter and to strengthen one’s own body stability and coordination?

In order to get closer to an answer to this question, the following section will look in more detail at so-called Band Assisted Training (FBT) as an alternative to training on conventional fitness machines.


Why do we talk about Functional Band Training?


When we talk about Functional Band Training (FBT), the question might arise why we call this type of training functional when other training methods and equipment always emphasise resistance and exclusively mention resistance training as the ultimate foundation of training. This question is undoubtedly justified and it will be explained in the following why training with so-called “fitness bands” enables optimal functional training.


Functional training has its origins in the 1990s, when people began to no longer consider the performance of individual muscles and joints in isolation, but to understand movement sequences as a result of the interaction of different muscle groups, joints, tendons and ligaments. According to this understanding, the aim is not to train the muscle but to improve the quality of movement, whereby the fact that the muscle is also trained in the process can be understood as a secondary effect. In this context, functional training stands for purposeful training. FBT does not stress and train individual muscles, but so-called “muscle chains and loops”.


This has a particular influence on how the corresponding functionalities are implemented in everyday life. In this aspect, an increase in the quality of movement contributes to safer and more economical movements, which plays a role even in old age, for example, when it comes to preventing falls in senior citizens.


On the one hand, a fitness band supports the exerciser in the same way as any other aid does, depending on the exercise. Viewed purely as a piece of sports equipment, it serves as an aid to performing a sporting exercise.


On the other hand, a band has features that make training much more customisable than with conventional fitness equipment. This is because bands can be used not only to make training more intense and strenuous. Bands can also be used to make the workout itself easier and less strenuous with their pulling behaviour; and this applies to a wide variety of exercises (such as push-ups, pull-ups or single-leg squats). Accordingly, the load intensity can be reduced as well as increased by means of FBT, which also supports its use in the therapeutic field.


But not only the amount of force per unit of movement can be regulated, but also the speed of movement can be modulated via the band-assisted acceleration and deceleration.


In addition, the contracting (concentric) phase of the pulling behaviour can be used for eccentric exercises, which, according to the latest findings, promise a comparatively high increase in strength. Of course, the same applies the other way round: if you use the band for stretching (eccentrically), you generally perform concentric exercises.


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Advantages of functional band training compared to conventional dumbbell training


This special behaviour of the band during stress and relief results in various advantages of FBT compared to conventional training with machines and weights.


First of all, the ascending and descending resistance during stretching and relaxation of the fitness band increases the training resistance (workload) the further the stretching is done, so that in the end a maximum, individualised training load results for the athletes. In contrast, the workload during training with free weights only increases up to about the middle of the training movement.


Furthermore, the relationship between workload and weight is approximately linear, whereas the intensity relationship for training with bands is exponential. These result in force and acceleration curves that correspond much more closely to the sequences of natural body movements.


As the bands help to exert the load in an anatomically and biomechanically adapted way, exercises with fitness bands are much gentler on the joints than with conventional equipment and weights. This effect is further enhanced by the fact that FBT can take place both synchronously and diachronically in all spatial directions (so-called multi-vector training).


In addition, fitness bands can be used for a much larger number of exercises than, for example, a weight bench, which further increases the customisability of fitness training, so that ultimately all components of individual fitness and health can be trained according to need.


FBT also leads to the trainees understanding their body as a holistic functional unit, as movement control also requires the mobilisation of movement flexibility and coordination resources, so that FBT represents a holistic integrating approach.


Strengthening the quality of movement is also conveyed by the fact that in FBT the strongest load is exerted where the neuromuscular structure is weakest, namely at the end of a movement sequence. In this way, FBT can also be understood as neuromuscular training.


In contrast to conventional equipment training (some traction devices excepted), an FBT can also impart purely horizontally acting loads, as it is gravity-independent (earth’s gravity does not play a role). Whereas classic dumbbell training can only work with vertical, gravity-oriented load directions.


In addition, the FBT offers the possibility to make the training easier (regression) or harder (progression) by choosing the grip width of the band (distance between fixation and holding point) and/or the distance from the centre of the body. The wider the grip on the band and the closer to the body the exercise is, the easier it is.


Advantages of Functional Band Training in terms of use


However, the advantages of FBT are not limited to sports medicine aspects and the before mentioned customisability. With fitness bands, it is possible to exercise at any time and in any place if desired. The bands themselves take up hardly any space and are weight-saving; and the exercises with the bands can also be performed in the smallest of spaces.


Compared to the monthly fee at a gym, fitness bands cost only a fraction, which is a strong economic advantage.


Last but not least, exercisers should also consider that being able to take their fitness equipment anywhere and exercise can be a strong self-motivator: Where there is space to train, there is no more room for excuses not to do so!


You can read more about the advantages in this article:

Advantages of band training


Limits of Functional Band Training


Like any other training method, FBT has certain limits, the location of which depends on what the athlete’s individual training goal is. It has already been mentioned that FBT is a holistic approach to fitness that involves the whole body. Accordingly, building larger muscle masses cannot be achieved with FBT alone; if this is the training goal, FBT should be combined with other approaches.


Furthermore, it is difficult to quantify the forces and accelerations exerted during FBT, so an absolute training intensity is not quantifiable. However, this fact should be negligible for many recreational athletes.


It can be assumed that they are more interested in the sustainability of their purchase and in this respect it must be clearly stated that fitness bands can tear or break. This circumstance, however, depends very much on the choice of material and its processing, as this is how large differences in quality come about.


When manufacturing our FLEXVIT bands, we had all these benefits of functional band training in mind and pay attention to the quality of the materials as well as local and sustainable production.



Author: Tim Hüfner, developer of the FLEXVIT bands and managing director of Flexible Sports GmbH


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