What are the benefits of working out with resistance bands? Are there any at all?
While some claim resistance bands are way less effective than traditional weight training, others laugh at the critics. If you are among the critics, read on – and I’m sure I’ll turn your head around…
Here’s a couple of hints for you:
Linear variable resistance, momentum, variety.
Curious? Read on and find out why these words make resistance bands the perfect choice if you are looking to build real strength!
4 Benefits of Working Out With Resistance Bands
Three Words: Linear Variable Resistance
When lifting a free weight, you get the same level of resistance from start to finish. For example, 20 pounds will always be 20 pounds. Curl a 20-pound dumbbell, and you’ll feel 20 pounds worth of tension at the bottom and top.
Working with resistance bands is different because of their linear variable resistance – LVR for short (1). This refers to the increasingly greater tension the band offers as you stretch it. The longer it gets, the more elastic potential it stores, and the more difficult it is to elongate it further.
For example, let’s say that you’ve gotten a band with a maximum tension of 25 pounds. You’ve stepped over it, grabbed it, and are ready to curl. At the bottom, the band is loose and provides only small amounts of tension. But, as you stretch, it gradually climbs to 25 pounds worth of resistance.
This might not seem that significant, but it plays a massive role in the overall resistance band effectiveness.
They Prevent The Use of Momentum
The ever-increasing band tension is fantastic, not just because it allows you to train your muscles well but also because it forces you to work hard and maintain your technique.
When lifting a free weight, it sometimes becomes easy for us to allow our ego to take charge. As a result, we begin to cut the range of motion short and use momentum. And sure, that allows us to lift heavier weights or do more repetitions. But training like that takes away the tension from our muscles, resulting in sub-optimal progress.
Resistance bands keep us in check precisely because the resistance keeps going up as we stretch them. This prevents us from using momentum simply because it alone would not be enough to complete repetitions. Even if we exert more force initially, the band absorbs it quickly and rebounds against our muscles before we’ve completed a repetition. Because of that, we are forced to work hard from start to finish, engage our muscles at all times, and possibly stimulate them better.
For that reason, using resistance bands is also an excellent way to keep our technique in check. Instead of relying on the repetition to get easier (as it often does on free weight exercises), it gets progressively tougher, which prevents us from slacking off.
They Offer Resistance In Multiple Planes of Motion
A considerable disadvantage of free weights is that we only have the vertical plane – we lift the weights up against the force of gravity. This often means we have to position ourselves in a way that allows for optimal loading. For instance, we can stand up for bicep exercises, but we need to lie down for chest movements and bend over for back activities.
Resistance bands are fantastic because their effectiveness doesn’t rely on gravity. Instead, their resistance comes from their elastic properties, which means we can use them in various planes of motion.
For example, you can step over a band and curl it much like you would a dumbbell. But, if you’d like, you can also:
- Attach it overhead and do pulldown or chest fly exercises
- Attach it horizontally for movements like rows, flyers, and curls
- Attach it near your feet for activities like curls, flyes, rows, and lateral raises
Since gravity is not the limiting factor here, we can do various exercises with one simple resistance band and train our muscles from multiple angles.
You Can Do Many Fantastic Exercises
Perhaps one of the greatest benefits of resistance bands is that you can do many effective exercises (2). Thanks to the resistance in multiple planes, bands offer lots of versatility, even for the simplest of exercises. Take, for example, the bicep curl:
You can do that exercise in multiple ways, depending on what works best and what you prefer. For example:
- Attach the band somewhere overhead and do crucifix curls
- Attach the band at hip level and do horizontal bicep curls
- Attach the band somewhere low and do classic curls
This applies to most exercises you can think of – rows, flyes, lateral raises, tricep extensions, hamstring curls, and more. With a bit of imagination, you can use bands in many ways and do various gym exercises.
You can also use resistance bands to make bodyweight exercises easier or more challenging. Here are some examples:
- Loop a band over a pull-up bar and beneath your feet to make pull-ups easier
- Loop a band over your hands and behind your back to make push-ups more difficult
- Loop a band over your feet and shoulders to make squats more challenging
You can also pair up different bands to adjust the difficulty considerably and always feel challenged enough.
Resistance bands are cheap, versatile, and easy to store. You can grab an entire set for a modest price and open up the doors for all sorts of exercises. They also don’t take up any space, which means you can easily store them at home.
And the best part? You can grab a couple of bands and take them with you on the road for quick and effective workouts.
Want to learn more about resistance band training, calisthenics, and strength training THAT WORKS? Visit my MASSIVE at-home strength-building archive – LOADED with actionable tips, fitness hacks, and time-efficient workout routines.
See you there!
Other Helpful Resources
- The Ultimate Full Body Beginner Resistance Band Workout Routine
- Best Resistance Band for Pull Ups: Reviews and Top Picks
- What is Resistance Band Training? The Science Behind Their Effectiveness
- Benefits of Resistance Bands vs Free Weights: What Should you Choose?
- Are Resistance Bands Good for Building Muscle? Science And Facts
- Do Resistance Bands Work? The Answer Might Surprise you!
- McMaster DT, Cronin J, McGuigan MR. Quantification of rubber and chain-based resistance modes. J Strength Cond Res. 2010 Aug;24(8):2056-64. doi: 10.1519/JSC.0b013e3181dc4200. PMID: 20613648.
- Lopes, Jaqueline Santos Silva et al. “Effects of training with elastic resistance versus conventional resistance on muscular strength: A systematic review and meta-analysis.” SAGE open medicine vol. 7 2050312119831116. 19 Feb. 2019, doi:10.1177/2050312119831116