You’ve probably seen fitness gurus and gym buffs working out with brightly colored training bands around their arms and legs. But what are they? Let’s take a look at how resistance bands work, how you can use them to optimize your fitness, and the relationship between resistance bands and weight loss.
Resistance bands come in a variety of strengths. From high resistance to low.
Adding resistance band training is a great addition to any fitness regime.
Using resistance bands makes your muscles work harder.
They are low-cost and you can do resistance band workouts at home.
What are resistance bands?
Resistance bands are a type of elasticated exercise equipment that come in a variety of shapes and sizes, such as flat and looped. They are placed around different parts of the body and used when performing bodyweight exercises to increase resistance and make your muscles work harder.
They come in custom band colors which indicate their level of resistance so you can gradually increase your workout load by moving up to a more challenging band.
The low-cost, compact size, ease of use and effectiveness of resistance bands have made resistance bands workouts extremely popular over the last three years.
Are resistance bands effective?
Yes, resistance bands can be highly effective at building muscle strength. Training bands work by increasing the resistance your muscles have to a certain movement. The opposing forces between your movements and the resistance coming from the bands makes your muscles work harder, burning more calories and building more muscle.
What results can you expect with resistance bands?
When used with bodyweight exercises like squats, they can be a great replacement for building fitness with weights, gym machines and other bulky exercise equipment. You can expect:
Muscle growth. You can expect to build muscle as you progress with your resistance band training.
Mobility. You’ll be strengthening all the muscles around your joints, helping support a safe increase in range of motion and mobility.
Muscle tone. As you burn fat and build muscle, you’ll achieve a more toned and defined physique.
- Stability. Resistance bands are used alongside bodyweight movements, increasing muscle mass, building strength, improving form and core stability.
- Progressions. You can start with low resistance and work your way up as you build muscle and strength.
- Convenience. You can pick up your resistance bands and start popping squats while watching your favorite TV show from the comfort of your home.
- Cost. They are a highly cost effective way of building strength without having to pay for expensive gym memberships.
Are resistance bands as effective as weights?
While both types of exercise do build muscle and strength, are resistance bands like weights? And which one wins in the resistance bands vs. weights debate?
It all depends on what you are looking for. If you want a cost effective way of strength training in the privacy of your own home then it’s resistance bands all the way. They work out some of your smaller muscles too and are especially good for beginners.
Free weights are a great progression once you’ve mastered some of the resistance bands moves, and built up muscle mass, strength and endurance.
Do resistance bands help build muscle?
Yes, using resistance bands training will definitely help you build muscle and bulk you up. Even simple bodyweight exercises increase muscle mass. Adding resistance bands to those kinds of movements will make your body work harder, maximizing muscle growth. There are three ways in which this happens:
- Progressive overload. The body responds to gradual increases in load by building muscle to facilitate greater weight.
- Metabolic stress. The burning sensation you feel in your muscles is a metabolic response whereby the body accumulates waste metabolites in the muscle. This has been shown to have a positive effect on muscle growth.
- Mechanical damage. Microscopic tearing occurs in your muscles due to exertion during exercise. When this happens, the body responds by repairing and building more muscle.
Are resistance bands good for weight loss?
The prevailing wisdom was always that you had to hit the gym and start pounding the treadmill or lifting weights if you wanted to lose weight and get those gains. But the efficiency of resistance bands shows that you can perform at-home strength training and still get results.
It’s now been proven that you can achieve weight loss goals with body weight exercises and resistance band training — which is great news if you aren’t a fan of intense cardio like running.
The elastic resistance bands make your body work harder, which in turn burns more fat. With a committed regimen you’ll achieve your weight loss goals by moving up to more challenging bands — giving you the physique you might be looking for.
How to start using resistance bands
You don’t have to be a seasoned workout pro to start using training bands in your exercise regime. Here are some great resistance bands workouts to get you started.
Arm exercises with resistance bands
Pull Apart. Stand with your feet hip-width apart. Take your resistance band and hold it with your hands approximately 30 cm apart. Straighten your arms out in front of you at shoulder height and drive your hands in opposite directions, stretching the resistance band. Repeat this movement for 1 minute.
- Bicep Curl. Stand with your feet in the middle of your resistance band, hip width apart. Take the ends of the band in each hand, glue your elbows to your sides and curl your forearms up towards your shoulders, stretching the resistance band. Repeat for 1 minute.
Ab exercises with resistance bands
Roll-up. Sit on the floor with a straight back and your legs out in front of you. Loop your resistance band around your feet. Holding the ends of your training band and keeping your arms straight, slowly lower yourself to the ground. Squeeze your abdominals, tuck your chin, and sit back up. Repeat for 1 minute.
- Resistance Twists. Sit in a ‘V’ shape with your legs bent, heels on the floor, and toes pointing up. Loop your resistance band around your feet. Holding the ends of your training band and keeping your arms straight. Lean back slightly and move your arms from one hip to the other, twisting your body from side to side. Repeat for 1 minute.
Resistance band leg workouts
Open Squats. Take a looped resistance band and place it around your thighs. Stand with your legs wide so you can feel the tension of the training band. Lower your body into a squat position, squeezing your abs for stability. When you are squatted low, move your knees outwards and back in again, feeling the greater tension in the resistance band. Come back to standing and repeat for 10-15 reps.
- Leg Lift. Place a looped training band around your calves, just above the ankle. Widen your stance so you feel a little resistance from the band. With your hand on your hip, lift your right leg out to the side, increasing the tension on the resistance band. Do 10 lifts on the right and 10 on the left. Repeat 3 times.
How long does it take to see results from resistance bands?
Every person’s body is different and the time it takes to see results will depend on factors such as your existing levels of fitness, weight, and the amount of time you dedicate to resistance bands training. If you train regularly with a collection of bands and progress to more challenging bands, you could start seeing results in as little as a few weeks. Make sure you are following a progressive routine and also focusing on a healthy diet.
Is it okay to work out with resistance bands every day?
If you already exercise every day then you can incorporate resistance bands into your training schedule. However, because resistance bands make your body work harder, you might find yourself with more sore muscles. If this happens make sure you rest your body in between workouts. Also ensure you have the correct form when performing elastic resistance band training — this ensures maximum efficacy and reduces the risk of injury.
- Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research. Elastic Bands as a Component of Periodized Resistance Training.
- Journal of Human Kinetics. Muscle Activity in Upper-Body Single-Joint Resistance Exercises with Elastic Resistance Bands vs. Free Weights.