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"We use bands in conjunction with barbells and dumbbells," Mr. DeAngelo said. "For instance, bands enhance the squat a little bit more."

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"We give them to our patients to take home with them, so they can supplement what we do in rehab and they can recover more quickly," Dr. Karr said. "They're small, they're not cumbersome, they're less expensive than weights."

And bands are more flexible, figuratively as well as literally. Bands enhance stretching exercises, and even can be used for cardiovascular exercises. In the upstairs studio, Mr. Labishak has a band anchored where sprinters can practice more explosive starts.

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"We don't use machines at all," Mr. DeAngelo said. "They're not functional. They're one dimensional, and we're not one dimensional. We're three dimensional. You have to train that way."

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"If you are comparing bands with machines, bands are a lot more superior, because they allow you to deal with gravity, balance and ground reaction," Mr. DeAngelo said. "Your body is always going to adapt better when it is in a position of function."

A major advantage of bands over barbells and dumbbells is safety.

"You don't have to worry about dropping them on your toe," West Penn Hospital's Dr. Swan said.

"Research demonstrates that elastic resistance training Bottega Veneta Intrecciato Nappa Bag

They're inexpensive. They're portable. They're safe. And, experts say, they provide a better muscle building workout than do weight machines. So it's no wonder resistance bands are growing in popularity.

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Elite athletes such as Pittsburgh Steelers safety Troy Polamalu have largely replaced weights with resistance bands in their off season conditioning programs.

A primary benefit of bands over weight machines is that bands "allow you to work groups of muscles rather than isolating muscles," Mr. DeAngelo said.

A studio upstairs is also devoted chiefly to resistance bands.

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"Specific movement patterns relating to a sport. That's when bands are really beneficial," said Ron DeAngelo, director of sports performance training at UPMC's Center for Sports Medicine. "We use them for lateral movements. If we really want to strengthen a person doing side to side movements, we'll use the bands a lot."

Dr. Swan said she discourages the use of barbells in rehabilitation "because you can hurt yourself." But West Penn uses hand weights in addition to bands.

All of his clients he works with about 50 people a week, on average use resistance bands, Mr. Horwat said. Some use only resistance bands for strength training.

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Despite the attention his trainers give to bands, the weight machines at Club One remain as popular as ever, especially with newcomers, Mr. Labishak said.

provides as much benefit in strength gains as the use of more expensive and cumbersome weight training equipment," Balenciaga Giant 12 Gold City Gris Pyrite

Mr. Labishak said he put in the rack because "before I built this, the [personal] trainers were tying the bands to everything."

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"I can't think of anything you can't do with them," he said.

"I use bands for shoulder and ankle strengthening," said Sean Karr, a physical therapist for Panther Physical Therapy in Hampton. "They work better than weights because they are able to isolate the foot and ankle movements better.

And working with bands provides benefits that can't be obtained from workouts with weights.

said strength Prada Bags Canvas and conditioning expert Phil Page, who has worked with football players for the New Orleans Saints and Seattle Seahawks.

Resistance bands are making their way into local health clubs. At Club Balenciaga Part Time Size

Resistance bands grow in popularity

Resistance bands (also known as Thera Bands, after a leading manufacturer) have long been used in rehabilitation.

The chief evangelist for resistance bands at Club One is Shawn Horwat, 29, who has been a personal trainer for 10 years.

One in Shadyside, managing partner Chris Labishak has installed on the main exercise floor a rack to which to tie resistance bands, and instruction in their benefits, and use is offered in introductory sessions for new members.

"Every one of our patients has a Thera Band tied to the back of their wheelchair," said Barbara Swan, the medical director for the Acute Rehabilitation Unit at West Penn Hospital. "I also use them in the office. I call them a poor man's Soloflex [a popular home exercise machine]. They're easy to use. They have different densities. They're cheap."

Although bands can substitute for free weights in resistance training, experts say they work well together.

"By simply varying the level of resistance, the number of repetitions and the speed of the exercise, you can tailor a program for weight loss, body toning, general strength and conditioning, or you can improve speed, power and agility for sports," Mr. Page said.

"Elastic resistance allows you to exercise multiple joints and planes in a standing position [rather than seated on machines], thus bringing more core training into the same machine based exercise," said Mr. Page, who has written a book on resistance bands, "Strength Band Training" (Human Kinetics, 2011).

"I like the bands for young athletes, and for the elderly," he said. "They're more complex, more dynamic, they hit more muscles."

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