What is Resistance Band Training? And are Resistance Bands Effective?

Are you looking for a cost-efficient way to get in shape – without splashing the cash on the newest fitness industry hype “SuperFit6060 XL GT7”?


Whatever your goal is, you’re bound to be more successful in your fitness regime if you understand the reasons for how and why individual exercises benefit your body.

In this post, I’ll dive into the science of resistance bands.

What is resistance band training? How do resistance bands work, and why are they so damn effective?

Let’s get to it:

What is Resistance Band Training?

Essentially, resistance band training is working out using rubber bands of different sizes.

There are a vast variety of exercises you can do, and the tightness of the band affects the difficulty, -and thus the impact on muscle groups.

It’s the perfect combination of simplicity and efficiency!

And you know what?

In addition to being simple and effective, they’re also dead cheap!

While your friends are signing up for gym memberships that cost upwards of $50 a month, you can get a set of resistance bands from a fraction of that cost (as little as $3 per band).

In short, resistance bands can be described as:

  • Simple,
  • effective,
  • compact and lightweight,
  • multifunctional,
  • affordable pieces of rubber loops.

Your perfect partner for smart home workouts!


How Does Resistance Bands Work?

It’s all in the name:

Resistance bands provide resistance to your muscles, making them work harder.

Your muscles are essentially made of thousands of thin rubber bands themselves – expanding and contracting to allow you to move freely.

When you increase the strain or resistance, the muscles work harder and learn that for next time they need to develop more strands to deal with the tension.

Resistance Bands vs Free Weights / Stretch vs Gravity

Traditionally this resistance during exercise is provided by weights, either in the form of resistance machines or free weights like dumbbells or barbells.

The weight you lift provides extra strain on the muscle, causing them to grow stronger.

With resistance bands, on the other hand, it’s not about weights.

The resistance is provided with the pull of the band. We’ve all played with small rubber bands at school or work.

Stretch them, and they pull back. The thicker the band, the more it pulls back. And most importantly; the harder it is to stretch!

When using free weights, the resistance is adjusted by utilizing heavier or lighter weights, which means you’ll need a lot of iron lying around to cover different resistance… You also typically keep them in pairs –one for each arm.

Resistance bands, on the other hand, only require one band “per level” of resistance. You can also adjust the tension by doubling the band over, halving it, and doubling its resistance.

Do you remember I told you about the resistance all coming from the rubber stretch?

Here’s why this is so damn cool:

The Science of Rubber Resistance

Resistance bands eliminate gravity from the equation.

If you’re lifting a heavy weight, the most effective part of a rep is coming down in a controlled manner… This is the part that puts the most strain on the muscle as it’s less natural than picking something up.

However, with weights, gravity helps you out. Effectively meaning that the load is slightly easier to put down than to pick up, costing you valuable gains from your exercise.

And we all want gains, or what?

Because a band’s resistance comes from a stretch, this isn’t a factor. Your rep is much more balanced both on the up and the down, the stretch and relax.

Ask any personal trainer, and they’ll tell you a slow, smooth, controlled rep, -whatever your method of exercise is, will give you the most effective gain.

This controlled movement having your muscles work throughout the whole exercise is a lot damn easier to accomplish when gravity’s not messing around with you!

How do I Use Resistance Bands?

No worries, there’s no hocus-pocus…

There are hundreds of exercises you can do using rubber bands, -all mainly involve you stretching the band against your chosen muscle group.

I have gathered a truckload of them in my guide to resistance band workouts, go bookmark it before you read on!

Here are a few beginner-friendly suggestions to get you started. They can be done anywhere – from your home, office, or even outside:

Chest Stretches

Grasping the band with both hands and holding your arms stretched out in front of you, move your hands apart towards 3:00 and 9:00 and stretch as far as you physically can.

Hold, then return to the starting position in a controlled manner.

Repeat 12-20 reps for 3 sets.

Bicep Curls

Place your right foot on the band and grab the other end with your right hand and stretch the band.

Holding your arm out at about a 25-degree angle, with your palm facing up, bend at the elbow and move your hand towards your face, stretching the band even more.

Hold, then return to the starting position in a controlled manner.

Repeat 12-20 reps for 3 sets per arm (don’t forget to work both arms!)

Leg Extensions

Secure your band in a low position, about a foot off the ground (as simple as looping it around the leg of a table). Loop the other end around the desired ankle, with the band behind you, keeping your feet shoulder-width apart.

Step away from the anchor just enough to tighten the band and shift your weight onto the idle foot, lift the active foot up, until your knee is at a right angle to your body.

Hold, then return to the starting position in a controlled manner.

Repeat 15-25 reps for 4 sets per leg.

All of these exercises are usually done with weights but are just as effective using bands, if not more so!

There are also some exercises you can do with bands that you’d never be able to do with weights:

Lateral Walk

Double the band around itself to halve its width and place it around both ankles.

Now keeping one ankle fixed, move the other one further away from it, stretching the band.

To make sure you’re working the upper leg muscles, do this exercise with a slight squatting position to really feel the burn!

Once the band is fully stretched, move the idle leg slightly closer to release the stress, and repeat.

Take 12-15 steps in each direction.

Final Words: Rubber Bands Build Muscle!


What is resistance band training then?


Hopefully, you’ve learned a thing or two about how resistance bands work, and how they affect your body.

Don’t be afraid of trying some of these things out – they’re all very easy to pick up, and you’ll most certainly see results just as good as with free weights!

The science behind resistance bands is elementary:

The more you stretch the rubber band, the more it provides resistance to your muscles.

And the thicker the rubber band, the harder it will be to stretch!

Do you want to learn about other simple – yet effective ways to build strength? In that case, check out my ultimate resource to at-home strength training for lots of inspiration and other helpful stuff!

Other Helpful Resources

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