Resistance bands are the dark horse of the at-home fitness equipment world – and they perfect piece of kit to pack in your gym bag for your return to the studio. While they may appear pretty innocuous, but these figure-transforming oversized elastic bands have the power to make your muscles stand to attention like nothing else. Yep: even more so than your trusty dumbbells or kettlebells.
The best resistance bands can be used to target a wide range of muscle groups, with thanks to the fact that they come in a wide variety of lengths and weights. Some are designed in loops, while others are flat and some come as tubes with handles, so that you can choose the style which best suits your workout. They’re also great for rehabilitation and stretching (think hip flexors and pilates stretches) – not just bodybuilding and cardio training. Tempted? We don’t blame you. Here’s everything you need to know about your purchase.
Do resistance bands actually work?
Yes! The best resistance bands work by exerting pressure on your muscles when stretched. Shante Oudnie, personal trainer and owner of premium resistance bands brand Shante Franca, told us: “Resistance bands – like dumbbells, barbells or any other free weights – provide external resistance that your muscles have to work against. When pushing against a resistance band during an exercise, your muscles have to engage to fight the tension. When you add a resistance band to any kind of exercise, your muscles are under tension during both the eccentric and concentric phases of the exercise, meaning you create constant tension throughout the range of motion of the exercise.” This means regular use of resistance bands will lead to muscle growth.
Can you build muscle with just resistance bands?
Yes, and pretty effectively, too. Why? The resistance band’s load progressively increases as the range of motion increases – a property unique to elastics.
Grace Beverly – founder of TALA and Shreddy – said: “Resistance bands change the strength curve of some exercises. There are three types of curve: ascending, descending, and bell-shaped. Ascending is when a movement gets easier towards the end of the range of motion, for example bench press. Descending is when an exercise feels heavier towards the end of the movement, like pull-ups. Bell-shaped movements are when the movement is hardest in the middle of the range of motion, but easier at the beginning and end. Bicep curls are a great example.”
Since the resistance increases as the band lengthens, resistance bands offer a dynamic you don’t benefit from with normal weights, where the weight stays the same throughout the movement. A larger number of muscle fibres are fired up, resulting in great adaptations in muscle size and strength.
Can I do resistance band training everyday?
“If you are using resistance bands for a variety reasons such as resistance training, stretching, mobility and yoga, then yes you can use resistance bands every day,” Shante said. “However, if you are specifically just using resistance bands for resistance training, while you can resistance train every day, for most people it may offer no additional benefits towards reaching their goal when compared to those who incorporate rest days in to their program.”
What are the different types of resistance bands?
“Long loop resistance bands can be used for a comprehensive, full-body workout that essentially challenges every major muscle group in your body,” Shante said. “These are exercises such as front squats, overhead press, kickbacks, hip thrusts, seated rows, chest press, bicep curls, tricep kickbacks and many more.
“Mini loop resistance bands (or glute bands), on the other hand, are mainly used to target and activate your glutes, hamstrings and quads. However, you can use these bands for a few various upper body exercises such as overhead press, shoulder abductions, front raises and tricep extensions.”
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