Are Resistance Bands Effective?

By | April 4, 2017

Resistance bands have an unassuming look compared to the die-cast metal of dumbbells and hefty exercise machines we’re used to seeing in the gym.

It’s common for people to wonder if a super thin band of latex or rubber tube really can offer a serious workout, especially when it’s use is synonymous with yoga, Pilates, rehabilitation, workouts for absolute beginners, and light exercise for seniors.

Resistance bands first started to gain in popularity in the 80s. Companies like Bodylastics were eager to give their product the respect it deserves, and as a result, today we have a huge selection of resistance bands available for people at any level of fitness.

So it’s not a matter of if resistance bands in general can meet your fitness needs, it’s a matter of if you have the right resistance bands in your arsenal.

The best-selling sets out there tend to include about five bands varying in weight resistance of about 3 lbs. to 19 lbs. These will satisfy people using resistance bands in the traditional sense, namely for less strenuous exercise. However, it’s become more common for resistance band manufacturers to offer packages aimed at the strong man, serious athlete or MMA hopeful. These sets include the same bands included with the mainstream sets along with very heavy bands that are rated at 23 lbs. and 30 lbs.

Resistance bands are thought of as a toning, or cardio related tool rather than for bodybuilding and while this is generally true, heavy resistance bands can build muscle and give you access to another world of exercises not available to the barbell user.

Resistance bands are very effective at allowing you to strengthen the motions associated with your specific interests rather than generic exercises that may feel robotic or unnatural. For example, baseball pitchers can add resistance to their pitching motion, and tennis players can beef up their backhand or forehand foreword swing. So resistance bands are a useful niche tool for training; it just takes a bit more imagination to utilize this potential.

This advantage of freedom of movement can pose threats to the careless or uninformed. If you exercise with improper form consistently issues may arise such as muscle damage, plus stretched ligaments and tendons. To avoid this, follow basic recommended resistance band exercises. If you feel the need to experiment, pay careful attention to any pain or discomfort that develops and stop immediately if it does.

Resistance bands are ideal for whole-body exercises and will help encourage and give you the means to achieve a more holistic workout. If you’ve seen bodybuilders with huge biceps but underdeveloped forearms, a barrel chest and chicken legs, this is the outcome of going for the most obvious results and missing the details. Some strategic time with the resistance bands will help you not be that guy (or girl).

Exercising with resistance bands can keep you limber, tone and even build strength. That said, it has a place in your gym but isn’t a panacea some are hyping it up to be. Free weight excel in areas resistance bands can’t quite reach, and if you have access to a home gym, barbells and dumbbells too, you’ll be able to get the best workout possible. Resistance bands get underutilized muscles and joints active again, but when your really to take it to the next level, many will tire of the feel of band pressing hardly against their body and pick up some dumbbells.


Photo: ih