What are resistance bands? Resistance bands are typically made of latex or rubber, and they come in varying thicknesses. They can be used to provide resistance for a variety of exercises that range from upper body strength training to leg strengthening. Resistance bands work by providing constant tension on the muscles being targeted. This means you don’t need any other equipment, making them convenient for people with limited space. The most common type is the tube band, which has loops at either end that allow it to be secured around an object—a door handle, a tree branch—or held between two hands to form a loop or circle shape. The more loops there are, the greater the stretch on your muscles when you use them as part of a workout. There are also flat bands and handles; both can be used to do pretty much the same exercises as a tube band, but they aren’t quite as versatile because there’s no stretch.
What Are Resistance Band Workouts?
Resistance band workouts can target all the major muscle groups and all fitness levels (one exception: pregnant women should avoid doing resistance band workouts).
If you’re just starting out, basic exercises include:
- Seated rows: Sitting on the floor with your legs straight, hold the band with both hands and pull it toward your chest.
- Chest press: Lie on your back on the floor and hold the band with your palms facing away from you. Raise your arms to bring the band toward your chest.
- Bicep curl: Stand with your shoulders down and back, holding one end of the band in each hand with palms facing up. Keeping your elbows at your sides, pull the bands into a bicep curl until your hands are at shoulder level. Then slowly lower them back to the starting position.
- Triceps extension: Sit on the floor with your legs straight out in front of you and hold one end of the band in each hand, palms facing down. Straighten your arms and lift the band over your head, then slowly lower it back to the starting position.
As you get stronger, you can start to incorporate different types of resistance band workouts into your routine. For instance:
- Pushups with a resistance band: Loop the ends of the band around a sturdy object and hold it in front of your chest. You can also put it around your back for a more challenging workout. Rest your feet on another object—a bench or chair— to provide stability and increase the intensity of this move.
- Band squats: You can attach a band to something sturdy for resistance, such as a door handle or tree branch, and loop it around your shoulders so that the ends hang down in front of you. Then hold onto the handles with both hands and squat down to 90 degrees, keeping your legs shoulder-width apart and your back straight.
- Squat with rotation: Place the band around something sturdy for resistance and hold it at both ends in front of you. Then squat down to 90 degrees as you rotate your upper body to one side, rotating back to center as you push up into standing. Keep your feet flat on the ground.
- Resistance band chest press: Lie on your back, holding one end of the band in both hands above you with palms facing up, arms extended straight toward the ceiling. Slowly bend your elbows to bring the band down toward your chest without letting them drop below 90 degrees.
Resistance band workouts are a great way to add a new challenge to your regular routine, and they’re perfect for people who want to get in a good workout without using too many equipment or going to the gym.
Pros Of Resistance Band Workouts
There are several advantages of resistance band workouts, including:
Unlike traditional weights, resistance bands are very cheap.
Portability And Freedom Of Movement
Resistance bands are very portable, so you can take them with you wherever you go. They’re also great for people who are limited in terms of movement, because there’s no need to worry about getting a spotter.
Unlike traditional weights, which provide a consistent amount of resistance throughout the entire range of motion, resistance bands provide different amounts of resistance depending on where you are in the range of motion. This makes them perfect for people who want to increase the intensity of their workouts over time.
Resistance band workouts are a great way to get a good workout without putting any stress on your joints (4).
No Equipment Necessary
You don’t need any equipment to do these workouts—just a band or two to get started (you can purchase both kinds at most sporting goods stores). That’s part of the appeal for many exercisers who want to work out in their homes without purchasing expensive equipment.
You can use resistance bands for a wide range of exercises, and they’re perfect for people with health conditions that make it difficult to work out with traditional weights. They’re also useful in rehabilitation settings because the band provides gentle support and helps prevent injuries when someone is working on improving muscular strength or balance (1). For instance, someone with knee pain might be able to do squats with a band.
Offer Whole Body Workout
Resistance band workouts offer a full-body workout because you use muscles throughout your body to complete the exercises.
Can Be Combined With Other Exercise Equipment
If you have other exercise equipment, such as a treadmill or stationary bike, you can easily add resistance band workouts to your routine. That way, you’ll get the most out of your workout time.
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Cons Of Resistance Band Workouts
There are a few potential disadvantages of resistance band workouts:
May Not Be As Effective As Traditional Weights
Some people believe that resistance bands may not be as effective as traditional weights when it comes to building muscle mass. However, there is no definitive evidence to support this claim.
Band May Lose Its Resistance Over Time
If you use the same band for a long time, it may start to lose its elasticity and provide less resistance. It’s a good idea to have several different bands on hand so that you can switch them out as needed.
May Require More Balance And Coordination
People who are new to resistance band workouts may find them more challenging to do than traditional weightlifting exercises. This is because the band provides resistance in all directions, which can make it harder to maintain balance. However, with a little practice, most people are able to overcome this obstacle.
May Not Work For All Exercises
Some resistance band workouts require you to anchor the band and then perform exercises. This is fine for certain exercises, but it can’t be used for every exercise . For example, if you are working on your leg muscles with a squat, jumping jack or lunge, you cannot anchor the band because it will not provide enough resistance. These types of exercises require traditional weights.
May Not Provide Sufficient Resistance For Some Exercises
In some cases, the resistance band may not provide you with enough resistance to perform certain exercises, such as a standing biceps curl or overhead press. In this case, it’s best to add a weight belt and additional bands if necessary.
Tips For Buying And Using Resistance Bands
If you’re new to resistance bands, here are a few things to keep in mind:
Not All Resistance Bands Are The Same
There are a few different types of resistance bands, and they vary in terms of quality and durability. It’s important to purchase a band that is made from high-quality materials and has been tested for safety.
The Resistance Band Should Fit You Properly
When you’re choosing a resistance band, be sure to select one that is the right size for you. If it’s too loose, it will offer less resistance; if it’s too tight, it could cause discomfort and potential injury.
The Band Should Have A Gripping Surface
Make sure the band you select has a gripping surface so that it doesn’t slip while you’re working out. This is especially important if you’re doing exercises that involve standing on the band.
Always Warm Up And Cool Down
Before you begin your resistance band workout, be sure to warm up your muscles with some light stretching. This will help reduce the risk of injury (2). After your workout, cool down with more gentle stretching.
Do Not Overdo It
Resistance band workouts should be challenging, but they should not cause pain or excessive discomfort. If you’re experiencing any pain, stop the exercise and consult your doctor.
Try A Variety Of Exercises
A good way to get the most out of your resistance band workouts is to try a variety of exercises. This will help you work different muscle groups and keep things interesting.
Increase The Resistance
As you get stronger, you may find that the band provides less resistance. In this case, you can increase the resistance by using a thicker band, stacking multiple bands together, or adding weight to the band.
Be Aware Of Your Surroundings
Although most exercise bands are designed for versatile use, it’s best to check with the manufacturer instructions before using them indoors. If you plan to do workouts inside, make sure there are no breakable objects in the room and make sure children and pets are not present.
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Maintain Good Posture
For most people, resistance band workouts are safe. However, there are a few things you should keep in mind to maximize safety:
Good posture is important when doing resistance band workouts to avoid injury. Keep your back straight, tighten your stomach muscles, keep your shoulders down and back, and do not lock out your knees. There should be no swinging or jerking motions (3).
Keep your body properly aligned when doing resistance band exercises. Improper alignment can lead to pain and injuries (3).
Always Stay Hydrated
Before, during and after your workout, be sure to drink plenty of water. This will help prevent fatigue and dehydration. During the workout, it’s important to take frequent drinks in order to replenish electrolytes lost through perspiration.
The Bottom Line
Resistance band workouts might not be as effective as traditional weightlifting exercises when it comes to building muscle mass. However, some people find them more challenging to do than traditional weightlifting. If you’re new at this type of exercise, try starting with low-intensity exercise bands and gradually work your way up if needed.
For the most part, resistance band workouts are a great way to get in a full-body workout without having to use any other type of equipment. They’re versatile, easy to do at home, and can be combined with other exercises for a more efficient workout. Just be sure to choose the right band for your fitness level and exercise goals.
This article is intended for general informational purposes only and does not address individual circumstances. It is not a substitute for professional advice or help and should not be relied on to make decisions of any kind. Any action you take upon the information presented in this article is strictly at your own risk and responsibility!
- Effects of training with elastic resistance versus conventional resistance on muscular strength: A systematic review and meta-analysis (2019, nih.gov)
- Effects of warming-up on physical performance: a systematic review with meta-analysis (2010, pubmed.gov)
- Regular breathing and proper posture when exercising is important (2016, msu.edu)
- Resistance training – health benefits (2018, betterhealth.vic.gov.au)