Whether you’re a seasoned athlete, weekend warrior, or exercise neophyte, you can benefit from incorporating resistance bands into your workout routine. A great alternative to large, bulky, and expensive gym equipment, resistance bands can help you build strength, sculpt lean muscles, and rehabilitate from injury. They are also compact and affordable making them ideal for travel and a great addition to your home, studio, or gym fitness program.
What are resistance bands?
Resistance bands are elastic bands used for strength training, physical therapy, and general fitness. These stretchable bands come in various “weights,” which equate to the thickness of the band, and can be used to make movements or exercises more challenging as well as to facilitate greater muscle recruitment.
Resistance bands come in many forms but the most popular ones are power resistance bands (loop bands), tube resistance bands with handles, fabric non-slip circle bands, light therapy bands (commonly used for physical therapy), and figure 8 bands.
What do they do?
If you’re wondering, “how can an oversized rubber band make my workout so much harder?” then you’re not alone. Commonly used in barre classes, resistance bands help recruit your stabilizing muscles as well as increase the overall resistance level of a movement, making your workout more challenging. Resistance bands can be added to most bodyweight movements to increase the level of difficulty, which means you don’t have to change your workout routine to start incorporating them!
Using bands during your workout creates more controlled movements because you are adapting to the changing resistance. Not only will your workout be more difficult, but it will also help improve your balance, coordination, and core strength. The constant tension from the band requires you to engage your core to maintain control and proper form. Lastly, resistance bands activate your stabilizers–the small muscles that stabilize and support your body–which is why they are so effective for building core strength and stability throughout your musculature.
Resistance Bands for beginners
Resistance bands are an ideal fitness tool to use whether you are adopting a new workout routine or if you love to feel the burn. They are extremely versatile and are an easy way to introduce strength training in a safe and effective way.
If you are new to using resistance bands, it’s best to start with lighter ones and aim for at least two workouts per week and increase from there. You can do a full-body workout with your bands or you can start by adding a few key exercises to your current routine such as, banded glute bridge, front squat, lateral walk, and clamshell.
Are resistance bands better than weights?
Resistance band exercises are similar to traditional weight-bearing exercises, except they have an anchor point which engages more of the body with each movement. The smooth and constant tension created with a band is better for your joints so there is less risk of injury than with free weights.
You can absolutely build muscle using resistance bands just like with dumbbells or weight machines; however, bands are also an effective tool for stretching and increasing overall range of motion. You’ll get an added boost since resistance band training also strengthens your stabilizing muscles more than traditional weight training.
We think everyone should have a set of resistance bands–they are affordable, portable, and effective for building lean muscle–and you can use them from the comfort of your own home when you join us for a live or on-demand barre class!
Erin Entlich is a certified yoga instructor, personal trainer, holistic health coach, and writer. She believes doing good starts with feeling good, which is why she loves helping people weave movement, mindfulness, and healthy eating into their daily lives. Find out more at www.erinentlich.com.