Resistance bands are like giant rubber bands used for workouts.
Some are thick pieces of rubber, others are hollow-tubing. Some have handles, others are simply rubber. Some are small, others are over 2ft long.
Many people ask, "How effective are resistance bands for workouts?"
Whatever the type, there are over 300+ studies that have been published on the benefits of resistance bands (and elastic resistance).
Let’s explore eleven BIG benefits for using resistance bands
Versatility is one of the most important qualities in workout equipment.
Essentially, this is how many different ways you can use it. Some fitness equipment only has one or two uses. Not with bands. You can use bands in dozens of different ways including: flexibility exercises, strength exercises, recovery exercises, mobility exercises, and even cardiovascular exercises.
#2: As Effective As Traditional Strength Training
Lifting dumbbells or free weights is one way to build strength.
However, research shows that workout programs using resistance bands (and other elastic tubing) increases muscle size, muscle strength, and drops body fat similar to strength training programs. This is because your muscles don’t know the difference between training with bands or free-weights – as long as the resistance is similar
#3: Strengthens the Rotator Cuff
According to the journal BMC Musculoskeletal Disorders, 70% of the population will have shoulder pain during their lifetime.
Even those who recover, 25% re-injure themselves. There are a lot of reasons for this, but one is weakness in the rotator cuff. Bands are a powerful tool to help this. A study by Louisiana State University found that training with resistance bands strengthened the rotator cuff muscles of baseball pitchers better than dumbbells.
#4: Strengthens the Shoulders
There are lots of ways to strengthen the shoulder, but bands appear to be a superior way.
The American Journal of Sports Medicine published a study looking at collegiate tennis players who used resistance bands compared to those who did not. They found shoulder strength increased dramatically in tennis players who trained with bands. Plus, the speed of their serves increased as well!
#5: Prevents Cheating
This is a very rare quality in fitness equipment.
When you lift normal weights, it’s easy to cheat using momentum to complete the exercise. Instead of the muscles working, momentum does most of the work. Using bands, you can’t use momentum because the tension comes the stretching of the band, not the weight of the piece of equipment. The constant tension from the band forces the muscles to keep working.
#6: Can Provide Heavy Resistance
Bands can provide impressive resistance.
Most people don’t think of bands for building strength. Instead, they think of them used in physical therapy for rehab or stretching. The truth is, some bands provide well over 100 pounds of resistance. That means, you can challenge the muscles just like you would with barbells, free-weights, or machines.
#7: Can Assist You in Difficult Exercises
This is another unique advantage of bands.
For example, if you can’t quite do a pushup, a band can be suspended above you, assisting you with the exercise. Or if you can’t do a pullup, you can drape a band over the bar, so it reduces the amount of weight you have to lift. As your strength improves, you can use a lighter and lighter band until you don’t need a band at all.
#8: Challenges Your Body in New Ways
Bands provide more resistance, the more they are stretched.
Think about the squat. Or just sitting down in a chair. Typically, the easiest part of the exercise is ¾ of the way up when you’re about to stand up. Well, by using a band, you can make that last ¼ the toughest part of the exercise. This strengthens your body in ways that weights (or body weight) cannot. Plus, the more you challenge your body in new ways, the better results you get.
#9: Joint Distraction
Joints can close down when there is not enough ‘space’ in a joint.
When this happens, muscles or ligaments can get impinged causing pain or tissue damage. One way of addressing this is using bands to pull the joint so it ‘distracts’ or creates more space. More space equals more clearance. This can be done with the shoulders, hips, and even the ankles.
This is the most common use of bands.
Instead of having to use gravity or attempting to force a stretch, the band does it for you. Typically, this allows you to relax into a greater stretch. The more you pull the band, the greater the stretch.
#11: Easy to Travel With
Bands are a great travel companion.
They are light-weight and don’t take up much space. Just stuff a couple into a bag or suitcase and you’re all ready to knock out workouts on the road. Or in a hotel room. With just one band, you have dozens of exercises at your disposal.
And with all those benefits, this single piece of equipment can be just the thing you need to start kickin-butt in your workouts again.