How Resistance Bands Work and Why YOU Need to Start Using Them

There is no doubt that you have seen resistance bands all over the internet. The hashtag #resistancebands has 600,000 posts from around the world, with men and women alike using them during heavy lifts, for at home workouts, warm ups, cool downs and everything in between. It’s safe to say they’ve taken the health and fitness world by storm - especially during quarantine - as we’ve had to switch from a well-stocked gym to making do at home. That’s the benefit of the band.

But how do you actually use resistance bands? What are the benefits of resistance band training? What about doing a resistance band only workout? Here’s everything you need to know.

What are resistance bands?

Resistance bands are elastic or fabric bands that can be long or short, thick or thin - that provide external resistance to an individual during exercise which acts as weights would. The external resistance causes muscle activation and mechanical tension, which results in muscle damage in the same way that using a set of dumbbells or a barbell would. 

Resistance bands are the bands used in elastic-resistance training (ERT), a type of training that has been integrated in powerlifting for decades, but has only recently made its way into the mainstream. They are typically made from rubber or material and work to provide resistance to increase the intensity of an exercise, working in a similar way to weights, but with a few key differences.

When a resistance band is used in an exercise, it causes a variation in the load being lifted throughout the range of motion. To see this in an example - when you squat with a barbell on your back, the resistance is the barbell working against gravity. In the concentric part of a squat - the lowering down - you are working with gravity, but only in the eccentric part of a squat - the movement upwards - are you working actively against resistance in the form of moving the barbell through gravity.

Now if you compare this to squatting with a resistance band - a band provides resistance throughout the range of motion, which means in both the concentric and eccentric part you are working against resistance, which has a plethora of benefits for your performance by testing your force generation capacity throughout different phases of ranges of motion.

What are the benefits?

So now you know how they work, the next question is why are they so beneficial? Resistance bands are extremely effective, supported by a multitude of studies.

A study published in the International Journal of Sports Physical Therapy in 2017 examined the effects of using resistance bands on muscle activation during a squat. The participants were asked to perform a three rep maximum squat and a bodyweight squat for maximum reps, while the electromyography and kinematics of four muscles were measured. The researchers found that resistance bands significantly increased muscle activity compared to unbanded squats, provided knee stability and increased activation of stabilizing muscles.

As well as increasing muscle activation, studies also show that using resistance bands in a warm up increases explosive exercise performance. This is because resistance bands help to generate force efficiently through different ranges of motion. In fact, according to 2008 research, if you combine free weights with resistance bands - you’re going to experience superior increases in strength, power and muscle mass, compared to just using free weights.

They’re clearly effective. But what else? Resistance bands are staple pieces of equipment because they’re:

  • Light
  • Small
  • Easy to travel with
  • Safe
  • Great for all experience levels
  • Can be used as an intensity strategy
  • Can be used instead of or in addition to weights

Lower body resistance band workout

Many people love using resistance bands specifically for a lower body workout! Using resistance bands in a lower body workout can increase the amount of muscular tension in your glutes to help build round, perky glutes without building excess muscle on your quads. If you want some more examples of this in action, here’s an example resistance band leg and glutes workout.

  1. Squats with resistance band

Place resistance band above the knee to provide constant resistance - squat down and up keeping glutes contracted and knees pushed outwards. You can also put two bands on either end of a barbell to increase the resistance.

  1. Standing banded hip abduction - from a standing position with the band around you, kick your leg out towards the side keeping your glutes contracted. The tighter the band, the less wide you’ll be able to kick your knee outwards.
  1. Lateral banded walks - in a squat position with the resistance band above your knees, walk side to side (laterally) without coming upwards, this is great for your side booty!
  1. Banded romanian deadlift thrusts - in a standing position with the band looped around something behind you, step inside the band and walk forwards until tension has been created in the band. The band should be at your hips. Hinge your hips backwards so you are in a romanian deadlift position, and then thrust forwards as you go back to standing. The hip hinge will contract and release your glutes to get a great burn!
  1. Standing banded kickbacks - in a standing position with the band above your ankles, tilt forward slightly and kick back with each leg at a time, flex your foot to feel the burn in your glutes and hamstrings.

But it’s not just for your lower body - you can use resistance bands in upper body workouts too. It’s the best piece of equipment for any workout - they’re light, cheap, easy to travel with and best of all - seriously effective!

So to summarize: you need to start using resistance bands. They’re so effective in fact that 95 percent of all elite athletes routinely use resistance bands as part of their training, and why they’re taking the fitness world by storm. If you’re ready to get started, click this link to purchase our resistance bands set so you can crush your workouts.