6 Benefits to Adding Resistance Bands to Your Weight Training
Resistance training is an essential component of an exercise regimen in order to build muscular strength and muscular endurance. Muscular strength is the maximum amount of force a muscle can generate one time; and muscular endurance is the ability of muscles to exert a submaximal force repeatedly — and both are important for optimal fitness.
For most of us, the difference between muscular strength and muscular endurance doesn’t particularly matter. We strength train because it offers many benefits, including greater ease in performing activities of daily living, a toned appearance, improved athletic performance, increased metabolism, better body mechanics, and more.
Today, there are more tools than ever for strength training, such as free weights, plate-loaded machines, selectorized equipment, resistance bands, YBells, and accessories such as medicine balls and sandbags.
Made of rubber tubing or elastic, resistance bands are a versatile option that come in several styles: with handles, in loops, and in longer flat bands. Let’s consider some of the benefits of adding resistance bands to your weight training.
- Challenge — Resistance bands have a different feel than free weights and machines because they apply resistance through the entire range of motion and make it more difficult to cheat by using momentum. They come in numerous resistance levels to accommodate any workout mode from beginners to athletes. Exercisers can easily increase intensity by taking up more slack on the band, or decrease by releasing some of the band.
- Muscle recruitment — Because resistance bands are unstable compared to fixed motion exercises, they require more muscles and stabilizers to properly execute movements. Resistance band exercises also activate the core to maintain balance and overall stability.
- Effectiveness — Just because resistance bands look easy to use doesn’t mean that they aren’t effective. Studies have shown that training with resistance bands can increase muscular strength and endurance, and improve athletic performance.
- Variety — Some strength equipment limits you to one or just a few exercises. But the opportunities with resistance bands are virtually endless. You can easily combine two exercises in one movement, such as a squat with an overhead press or a lunge with a row. It’s also easy to simulate recreational activities, like a golf or tennis swing, or activities of daily living, like opening a door or placing something overhead on a shelf.
Furthermore, you can add even more variety and challenge by combining resistance bands with weights, such as doing a biceps curl using a YBell and a band together.
- Safety — Resistance bands don’t require a spotter, and are easier on the joints than free weights, so your risk of injury is decreased. Plus, you don’t have to load or unload plates or risk dropping a weight on your foot.
- Convenience — Because resistance bands are inexpensive, lightweight, and portable, you can take them anywhere and don’t need storage space. That makes them an easy accessory for your YBells!
Your muscles adapt to the demands made on them, so it’s best to vary your workouts and exercise tools over time to stimulate progress. Don’t ditch your free weights, or whatever weight training items you use; just find ways to incorporate resistance bands into your routine as well.
For more than 25 years, Julie King has been a certified group exercise instructor and personal trainer, holding certifications from the American College of Sports Medicine, the American Council on Exercise, the Aerobics and Fitness Association of America, the Aquatic Exercise Association and Schwinn/Mad Dogg Athletics. She also has extensive continuing education and instruction experience in PiYo, YogaFit and mat Pilates.
Over her career, Julie has led virtually every class format at commercial health clubs, corporate fitness centers, wellness centers, schools and online. A contributing editor for Club Business International magazine, she has been published in Club Industry, Fitness Management, Club Solutions, National Fitness Trade Journal and Gear Trends/SNEWS.
With a M.S. in Kinesiology and a B.S. in Journalism, Julie is passionate about helping others to cultivate a love and habit of exercise.