6 Benefits to Adding Resistance Bands to Your Weight Training
We’ve all seen resistance bands in the gym, but are they really worth using?
Whether you’re new to working out or an advanced athlete, the answer is a resounding yes! Resistance bands offer many benefits to your warmups and stretches and can help to increase the intensity of your current workout.
Do Resistance Bands Work for Strength Training?
Resistance training is an essential component of an exercise regimen to build muscular strength and muscular endurance. Muscular strength is the maximum amount of force a muscle can generate one time. In contrast, 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 daily functional activities, a toned appearance, improved athletic performance, or weight loss.
Resistance bands can help you gain muscle mass and tone. While bands won’t bulk you up the way weights will, they will add increased resistance to your strength exercises. Adding bands into your second or third strength circuit is a great way to maintain muscle endurance.
Types of Resistance Bands
Made of rubber tubing or elastic, resistance bands are a versatile option that come in several styles.
Flat Resistance Bands
Flat resistance bands are wide and flat, so they’re perfect for wrapping around your hands. You can easily adjust the length of flat bands, increasing the resistance when you shorten it and decreasing the resistance when you lengthen it.
These bands are the most common bands found in gyms, physical therapy or sports medicine offices, and fitness retail stores. They’re also used in Pilates and yoga studios for added resistance while stretching or mobility exercises. The versatility makes them a must-have accessory for your home gym.
Resistance Bands With Handles
Resistance bands with handles are tube bands used for building muscle strength and size. The handles offer a firm grip, allowing for advanced exercises that mimic strength training machines in a gym.
Stackable resistance bands use standard carabiners or S-biners, letting you combine bands to increase or decrease the resistance level as needed. Resistance increases by adding bands while keeping the length the same. Resistance decreases by adding length to the band.
Loop Resistance Bands
Loop resistance bands are thinner and shorter than flat bands, and they form a closed loop.
They’re most often used with exercises that target the leg muscles and glutes, making them great for physical therapy and strengthening movements to heal these areas.
Power and Mobility Resistance Bands
Power and mobility bands are heavy-duty loop bands commonly used in cross-training, high-intensity resistance training, and powerlifting. You can use power and mobility bands for variable resistance to weight training or pull-up assistance for at-home strength training. In sports medicine, mobility bands are used to correct mobility issues.
Benefits of Using Resistance Bands
Let’s consider some of the benefits of adding resistance bands to your weight training.
1. Resistance Bands Add 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. You can quickly increase the intensity by taking up more slack on the band or decrease by releasing some of the band.
2. Resistance Bands Require More Muscle Recruitment
Because resistance bands are unstable compared to fixed-motion exercises, they require more muscles and stabilizers to execute movements properly. Resistance band exercises also activate the core to maintain balance and overall stability.
3. Resistance Bands Are Effective
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.
4. Resistance Bands Offer Variety to Your Workout
Traditional strength equipment limits you to one or just a few exercises. But the opportunities with resistance bands are virtually endless. You can easily create compound movements, 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 functional movements, like opening a door or placing something overhead on a shelf.
Furthermore, you can add more variety and challenge by combining resistance bands with weights, such as doing a DB bicep curl using a YBell and a band together.
5. Resistance Bands Are Safe to Use
Resistance bands don’t require a spotter and are easier on the joints than free weights, so your risk of injury decreases. Plus, you don’t have to load or unload plates or risk dropping a weight on your foot.
6. Resistance Bands Are Convenient
Because resistance bands are inexpensive, lightweight, and portable, you don’t need extra storage space in your home gym. They’re also easily portable, making them the perfect accessory for your at-home YBell workouts!
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.