These light rubber bands look pretty unassuming, but don't let their modest size fool you - these bands produce killer workout results even better than a heavy set of free weights. We're revealing precisely what you need to know about how these bands work their magic and the many benefits you can reap by using them.
Do resistance bands actually work?
- This question gets asked a lot, and we understand why. Resistance bands don't look hard to use, especially for fans of classic free weight and machine workouts.
- With free weights, you can literally see the weight you're lifting. The effort is a little less tangible in resistance band workouts.
- Trust us when we say that these bands work like a charm.
- You can see strength gains and more definition on an even bigger scale because bands can help you to pull and push just as much resistance as free weights while growing crucial stabilizing muscles in the process.
Keep reading to learn more about how bands work, how to use them properly, and the most significant benefits of incorporating resistance band exercises in place of clunky free weights.
How do resistance bands work?
Let's break down the way resistance bands work to build muscle and strength.
- Resistance bands are heavy rubber or fabric bands that pull and stretch. The resistance band creates an external force that pushes back against your muscles without adding any weight in the traditional sense.
- The opposing force in free weights is the weight of the object as you lift it against gravity.
- You create the opposing force with resistance bands - the harder you push on a band, the more the band "pushes back" at you.
- Resistance work builds muscle strength, mass, and definition. Both weight lifting and resistance bands can help you create a healthier body.
How to use resistance bands
- Get a few sets and vary the resistance. Resistance bands are small, but they're not supposed to be easy. Get a few different resistances, and if it doesn't feel difficult, upgrade to a more challenging resistance.
- Mark center to avoid imbalances. Make the center point of your band with a Sharpie, so you have a quick reference point during workouts. If you don't balance the resistance, you may end up with muscle imbalances.
- It's all about form. Just like in weight lifting, bad form can lead to injury and limit your results. Work out in front of a large mirror and focus on good form, even if it means downgrading to a more comfortable band at first.
- Switch up your routine. There are plenty of different resistance bands, from booty bands to pull-up assist bands and long-looped bands - grab a few different kinds and switch up your routines monthly to avoid hitting a strength plateau.
Six benefits of using resistance bands
You can get a few entire sets of bands for a fraction of the price of free weight sets and home gym machines. They're an excellent, low-risk investment, especially for beginners that are new to lifting.
#2: Portable and convenient
Take these bands anywhere! They weigh less than a pound and roll up into a tiny ball to fit into your gym bag or suitcase.
Bring them to the gym with you, take them to a park for a change of pace, or carry them while you travel - working out doesn't have to stop while you're away from home.
#3: Lightweight and compact
The small size of a resistance band makes it the perfect addition to a home gym that's short on space.
Many of us live in small apartments, condos, or simply share common space with others. Gym equipment tends to take up a ton of room and can't easily stash away.
Not the case for resistance bands, which help maximize the space in your home. You can keep your whole set in one small box or fabric bin that you can pull out during workout time, then stash it away again until next time.
Great news for beginners to resistance training - you're much less likely to hurt yourself with a resistance band than free weights.
The elastic quality of the band naturally limits your range of motion and promotes good form. The band tends to stop you from pushing past your safe points.
You can pick up a free weight that's too heavy and perform an exercise with bad form, which leads to injury over time.
#5: Strengthens stabilizers
We've already explained that both free weights and resistance bands are effective at building muscle strength.
But this is where resistance bands blow free weights out of the water and become the clear-cut best choice, in our opinion.
Resistance exercises don't just work the muscles on which you focus. Your body has to fight to keep its muscles stable against the uneven pressure of a resistance band. The stabilizing muscles that keep our bodies steady activate in resistance band exercises.
You can only lift as heavy as your weakest muscle in a given group. Building stronger stabilizers will help to support the primary force working in any move.
Strengthening your stabilizers with band work will allow you to lift heavier than ever before.
#6: Multi-group moves
While you can perform isolated exercises and compound exercises with both weights and bands, resistance bands can train several muscle groups at once a little easier.
Get a head-to-toe, full-body workout in 20-30 minutes that leaves you breathless with resistance bands.
Cutting down on your workout session times gives you the most valuable gift of all - a few minutes of spare time each day to spend doing whatever you like.
Do resistance bands work for weight loss?
Resistance bands can work just as well for weight loss as any other resistance program - burning calories can theoretically help with weight loss when combined with a diet.
To lose excess weight, you need to burn more calories each day than you eat; it's as simple as that. Resistance bands burn calories while you workout, and building muscle will increase your metabolism over time, making weight loss a little easier.
Final verdict: Do resistance bands really work?
So, are resistance bands practical workout tools, and do lateral resistance bands work? Absolutely they are!
You can use resistance bands and build workouts that are just as, if not more, effective than your typical free weight session.
To recap, here are our favorite reasons to start using one:
- They're much cheaper than weights;
- They're small, light, and easy to take on-the-go;
- Use them to work out in small spaces conveniently;
- They help beginners get started with less risk of injury;
- They build up stabilizers to improve overall strength and balance;
- And you can quickly get a butt-kicking workout in a shorter time.
If you're still not sure about resistance bands, invest in just one band to start and try it out - your results will speak for themselves.