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Benefits of Resistance Bands: Ultimate Guide (2019)

benefits of resistance bands: the header image

Looking for a new way of working out that isn't long-duration cardio or weight lifting?

Or perhaps you’re wondering what on earth those giant elastic bands tied to the pull-up bar are...

If so, you’re in the right place!

We’re about to take you through everything you need to know about this great piece of exercise equipment, including the question ‘do resistance bands work?’ and all of the known benefits of resistance bands.

Looking to start your career in fitness? If so, check out our Level 3 Personal Training qualification before you carry on reading! 

Contents:

#1 - What are resistance bands?

#2 - Different types of resistance bands: explained

#3 - Benefits of Resistance bands

#4 - Do resistance bands work?

If you’re interested in kick-starting your fitness career, you can always check out OriGym’s Personal Training Diploma or further fitness qualifications first!

#1 - What are resistance bands?

While the different types of resistance bands can leave you confused, they all fall under the same category. They do have slightly different uses, but we can describe them holistically to make things a little easier!

So, what are resistance bands?

Resistance bands are literally ‘bands’ that are either flat or tubular in shape. Originally, their sole use was as a rehabilitation method for patients wanting to get back to exercise post-injury.

FACT: They were first made from surgical tubing!

benefits of resistance bands: surgical tubing

They were first used in physiotherapy sessions during the 1990s but only took off as a piece of mainstream exercise equipment in recent years. We’d be surprised if you haven’t already seen them being used at your local gym or on Instagram!

The benefits of resistance bands are what caused this spike in popularity, but we’ll get to that later on in this article.

They are mainly used either in place of or to complement resistance training involving heavy weights. Their portability helps their case, and the fact that they come in different pre-set tensions/resistance levels (which is something to look out for when buying).

Typically, the lighter the colour the lighter the resistance, and vice versa.

benefits of resistance bands: resistance levels

Many people don’t know this, but most of the exercises that are executed using free weights can also be done with resistance bands. In theory, this makes them competitors!

#2 - Different types of resistance bands: Explained

Now that we’ve established a broad answer to ‘what are resistance bands?’, it’s time to dig deeper and find out more about the different types of resistance bands that exist in the fitness world.

 

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This will give you a better idea about the benefits of resistance bands in general.

If you’re clued up on how different types of resistance bands can focus on multiple parts of the body during exercise as well as providing different levels of resistance, you’ll be able to choose the right bands for your workout.

Flat bands

benefits of resistance bands: resistance band levels

If you’re a regular at the gym, then you probably associate the term ‘resistance bands’ heavily with flat bands. They are one of the most widely used and inexpensive models and get their name from their typical rubber band appearance.

Flat bands have no handles or grips, but they do come in varying levels of resistance.

They are usually colour-coded for this reason, but you can tell which will give more or less resistance from the width of each band.

Due to them being the smallest of the different types of resistance bands, they are usually used for rehabilitation purposes.

Athletes also use them to stretch out before or after exercise, especially long-duration races, so keep this in mind if this sounds like you! They’re especially great for aiding mobility and flexibility.

Average price (Amazon): £7.99-13.99 for a set. Check out OriGym's list of the top resistance bands to see exactly where to buy them!  

Pull-up bands

benefits of resistance bands: right order bands

In a similar league to flat bands, pull-up bands are also quite a common sight in most health and fitness settings. In fact, they’re probably the most frequently used by fitness enthusiasts.

When it comes to the benefits of resistance bands, pull-up bands have an advantage over flat bands.

They have more potential when it comes to building muscle and pulling off a greater variety of moves, as they add more resistance to exercises due to their thickness.

They are a great option for those who are used to flat resistance bands as well as those new to fitness, as they are relatively easy to grasp!

Like their thinner counterparts, they are usually colour coded in the same manner. If not then the thicker the band, the greater the resistance.

Staying true to their name, they’re also used to either assist users in pull-ups or add resistance to pull-ups, making them extremely versatile!

Average price (Amazon): £22.99-33.99 for a set.

Resistance tubes

benefits of resistance bands: resistance tubes

Resistance tubes have a different appearance to the bands, and also bring new options to the table when it comes to the different types of resistance bands and their uses.

Firstly, their design comes from the earliest version of the resistance band, which was surgical tube in case you missed this earlier! This is where the idea for their hard, tubular exterior came from.

When it comes to workouts, the handles on resistance tubes give them the advantage of being able to be anchored just about anywhere, making it easier to get a gym-like workout on the go.

For example, you can anchor them beneath your feet rather than on a lampost or door handle, making them extremely practical and user-friendly. The grip of the handles is usually easier on your palms too, which is always a plus when wanting to train more often.

Average price (Amazon): £14.99-22.99 for a set.

Figure 8 band

benefits of resistance bands: figure 8 band

Different again, we have the figure 8 band (named conveniently after its shape)!

The figure 8 band is one of the different types of resistance bands that is easily used without any accompanying pieces of equipment.

It’s also easy-to-use in general and is an excellent choice for those wanting to transition smoothly into training with resistance bands. Their short length allows for greater control so beginners usually see results faster with the figure 8.

That being said, they are still a challenging piece of equipment.

You should always feel challenged in some way during workouts, so be sure to choose a resistance level that is challenging yet sustainable in terms of reaching 12-15 reps.

Average price (Amazon): £7.99-10.99 for a set.

Lateral resistance band

benefits of resistance bands: lateral band

This one has a unique appearance and looks a little tougher at a first glance. Don’t worry, the fancy texture is just a protective sleeve for the tube inside, not some evil contraption!

The main difference between lateral resistance bands and pull-up or flat bands is that they have straps/cuffs, and are designed to target the lower body.

The straps/cuffs on the lateral band are designed to fit the ankles, and the lower body workouts that can be done using them are great for improving stabilisation in the lower body laterals.

The cuffs can, of course, be anchored to door handles etc. as resistance tubes can be.

However, they make up for what resistance tubes miss, which is the ability to comfortably anchor them to the ankles to work the lats.

Just like the different types of resistance bands that we have previously mentioned, they come in different levels of resistance which is very hand for those planning long-term fitness plans. It can be a great investment to purchase them in a set for this reason.

You should definitely add them to your collection for a more well-rounded workout!

Average price (Amazon): £22.99 for a set.

#3 - The Benefits of Resistance Bands

1) Inexpensive

benefits of resistance bands: price of resistance bands

We thought we’d start off our section on the benefits of resistance bands with something practical. Let’s face it, the practical side of things can be almost as important as the physical benefits when it comes to fitness!

To put it short, resistance bands are cheap. When compared to the likes of treadmills, exercise bikes, or power towers, they are clearly one of the most economical ways of getting fit.

The exact price will depend on which of the different types of resistance bands that you wish to buy.

Still, our research showed us the cheapest sets of resistance bands were being sold from £7.99, and the most expensive from around £22.99.

You can’t argue with that!

2) Portable

benefits of resistance bands: pull up resistance bands

Leading swiftly on, another of the practical benefits of resistance bands is that they are easy to carry around with you.

Rather than buying equipment that restricts you to working out at home, why not try something you can fit in your bag?

With resistance bands, there’s no excuse not to fit in at least 4-5 good workouts each week.

While your neighbour's treadmill is rusting in their garage, you could be working out in the park, at work, or even on holiday! Yes, you heard us right - you won’t even need to leave the hotel room.

Considering how effective resistance bands are for getting in shape, their portable nature makes them a win-win. Not only do resistance bands work, but you can use them anywhere.

Halle Berry in this interview on resistance bands with Popsugar said: ‘these bands are so easy to carry that they allow me to exercise wherever I go’.

If that endorsement isn’t enough for you when looking up the benefits of resistance bands, then we don’t know what is!

3) Adaptable

benefits of resistance bands: resistance tubes in different colours

The adaptability of resistance bands is one of their main strengths, and certainly compliments the fact that they can be taken anywhere.

As we’ve already mentioned, most of the different types of resistance bands come in various resistance strengths, similarly to how dumbells come in different weights!

This is handy as it means that there is room for progression and that the exercise isn’t solely for beginners. You shouldn’t underestimate the strength of resistance bands as they can actually be pretty tough to master, especially if you start at a resistance level that is too heavy for you.

In general, the lighter the colour the lighter the resistance… but you should definitely read the packaging first!

4) Rehabilitation and Stretching

benefits of resistance bands: stretching with resistance band

Resistance bands in their simplest forms (also known as flat bands or tubes) are commonly used for rehabilitative exercises. If you’ve suffered from an injury in the past, chances are you’ve reaped the benefits of resistance bands on your road to recovery!

Even if you haven’t, it’s great to make yourself aware of this should you ever land in this situation.

They were actually first invented in a medical setting for the purpose of rehabilitation, which proves that they have been effective in such situations.

Since resistance bands are adaptable and come in light resistance levels, they’re also used for stretching.

They can be used before or after a workout, or at any time to generally improve flexibility in the joints and muscles.

More good news; there are no special stretches that come along with the benefits of resistance bands. Just those that you will already be familiar with, such as hamstring or quad stretches!

Getting into the habit of stretching with resistance bands is great for beginners, as they usually have a lot of mobility and flexibility to build in comparison to more advanced fitness enthusiasts.

If you want to increase your range of motion in general or post-injury, resistance bands are for you.

5) Easy-to-learn

benefits of resistance bands: thumbs up

A useful piece of info for beginners to exercise or those who have never used resistance bands is that you can pick up their techniques in a matter of minutes.

One of the main reasons for this is that they can be used to modify many familiar exercises. Even if you’re a complete beginner and have never actually tried any of these exercises before you will at least have a vague idea of how they work.

For example, the benefits of resistance bands can be seen when they’re used with common dynamic exercises such as squats, glute bridges, lateral leg raises, glute kick-backs, squat thrusters, and more.

They do exactly what they say on the tin by adding resistance and therefore toning your body at a faster rate. As long as you’ve nailed your form for these exercises (which really doesn't take long), you’re good to go!

6) Full-body workout

benefits of resistance bands: resistance band exercise

The ability to gain a full-body workout from using them is certainly one of the greatest benefits of resistance bands. For anyone who has ever started a new fitness routine, gaining a full-body workout is essential.

After all, you want to ensure that you’re not leaving any areas of your body to fend for themselves.

With a single resistance band, it is more than possible to work every part of your body. It will likely be more effective with pull-up style resistance bands or resistance tubes rather than flat bands, but that’s not to say that you can’t use them to start with!

As they have many more possibilities in terms of exercise variety than weights do, the world is your oyster. In case you’re stuck for ideas, check out this full-body resistance band workout from Paleohacks.

Instead of just using a single band, you can always incorporate different types of resistance bands into your workouts to mix things up. For example, a lateral resistance band might be good for getting a more well-rounded workout.

7) Progression

benefits of resistance bands: using a tube band to stretch out

It’s screamingly obvious that progression is one of the most important aspects of exercise, especially if it’s with the common goal of increasing fitness level. The question is how do resistance bands work to progress our strength and overall fitness?

There are two main ways.

As we’ve already mentioned, resistance bands come in a variety of resistance levels. This is crucial for progression, as if they were all made with the same resistance then they would be more or less useless as a tool for improving strength.

To master your workouts and see physical results, you need to be constantly beating your personal best. By continuously pushing to use a higher level of resistance you will be ticking this box.

Not only do resistance bands work for progression by adding resistance... they can also add assistance to your workouts. In order to aid those who cannot execute pull-ups yet, pull-up bands are tied to the overhead bar and used as a makeshift step.

The tension allows the user to pull their body weight up much easier than they would otherwise be able to, making for a smoother progression into a difficult exercise!

This use of pull-up bands is one of the most common methods for pull-up progression, and their fame is mostly owed to the technique.

8) Muscle Tone and Endurance

benefits of resistance bands: flexing muscles

We’ve touched upon the fact that resistance bands are good for your body, as they wouldn’t be such a popular piece of exercise equipment if they weren’t. However, you still may not be convinced that they are any good for bulking or toning up your physique.

We get it; their appearance doesn’t scream ‘bodybuilder’ like barbells or dumbbells do!

But hear us out. To put it bluntly; being good for strength training is one of the benefits of resistance bands that you don’t want to overlook.

When you select resistance band workouts that challenge the muscles that you want to focus on and do them with the correct resistance for your current ability level, you’ll see great results.

You may not be able to bulk up to bodybuilder standard, but that certainly doesn’t mean that you can’t get lean with resistance bands.

Your muscles don’t have some hyper-awareness of where the resistance you’re training them with is coming from. If you’re giving them a great workout that fatigues them just as much using dumbells do, then chances are that you’ll get similar results!

Once you’ve gotten to a good level and built on your muscle mass, you may wish to train with free weights more often to take this further. But the truth is, anyone at any fitness level at all can train with resistance bands and see a great outcome.

If you’re already shredded, then resistance bands can help you to maintain your mass, especially if you’re out and about without access to a gym. They can also help you to gain the muscular endurance that you may be missing out on.  

benefits of resistance bands: low impact

If you’re a runner or any kind of endurance athlete, then you’ll definitely want to know this.

As resistance bands are a low-impact alternative to weight training, this also makes them a great option for building endurance for those who don’t want to focus solely on free weights.

One of the main benefits of resistance bands over weight training is that they provide more exercise variety. They also prevent you from using momentum to cheat and therefore challenge your endurance progression further.

You can increase your reps at a faster pace with reduced risk of injury!

The improved mobility that you can gain from resistance band workouts is also extensive, and you’ll quickly gain a surprisingly good range of motion in your joints by doing them regularly.

This will make time spent lifting weights and on other exercises more productive too!

#4 - Do resistance bands work?

Now that you’re clued up on the benefits of resistance bands and you’ve heard what we have to say about them, you’re probably still asking; ‘do resistance bands work though? Really?’

We get that on the surface they don’t look as though they could do much damage.

If you see a kettlebell, barbell, or tire being thrown around the gym you almost feel a little frightened to try them out… but the curiosity and excitement win you over.

With resistance bands, things are different. When the question do resistance bands work? comes up, it looks almost laughable compared to questioning whether these monster pieces of equipment are up to scratch.

If you were to pick from all four pieces of equipment, you’d probably overlook them before reading about the benefits of resistance bands.

We’re not saying that you should pick them, but we’re certainly here to tell you why they would make a good option! After all, you deserve to find the best piece of kit for your goals, and an accurate and direct answer to do resistance bands work?

benefits of resistance bands: questioning expression

The truth is, it all boils down to your goals.

The question do resistance bands work? could mean a multitude of things, so we’re going to go with the four most common questions that we could find on the web.

Do resistance bands work for strength training?

If your goal is to train and gain strength over a steady period of time, then you’ll find the benefits of resistance bands more than enough!

Yes, they do work for strength training over a steady period of time, but as the same as any other exercise only if you put in the maximal effort. You need to be consistently beating your personal best when it comes to reps or resistance levels.

Push for higher reps if you want to work on endurance and gain strength as quickly and effectively as possible.

Resistance bands are particularly useful for endurance as they are low-intensity in comparison to weights, so you can hit higher reps faster.

However, weights would get you to a higher level of strength in the long-run. This is because they have a greater variety of weights/difficulty levels to choose from, so it takes far more time to max out your level in weight training than it does with bands (and there is more potential for improvement).

benefits of resistance bands: dumbells

Do resistance bands work to gain muscle mass and tone?

In short, YES. Gaining muscle mass and tone is one of the main benefits of resistance bands. However, that’s not to say that they are the most useful piece of equipment in this area if you’re not a beginner.

Weights will help you to bulk up much faster than resistance bands will, as they are more high-impact and put your muscles under more strain.

If this is your goal, by all means, start out with resistance bands, progress to weights once you’ve mastered them, and continue to use them to maintain endurance!

OR use them to add resistance to your free weights workouts. It’s your shout!

Do resistance bands work to lose weight?

This is one of the most common questions we’ve seen online regarding this topic, and we can certainly answer it for those wondering.

Any physical activity that helps you to build muscle and shed excess calories will help you lose weight.

This is true as long as you have good nutrition (including eating the right amount of food), stay hydrated, and exercise 3-4 times per week, giving it your all when you do.

Combine working out with bands with some high-intensity cardio, and you’ll feel all the benefits of resistance bands whilst losing weight at the same time! It’s a win-win.

Before you go!

That’s it for our article on the benefits of resistance bands! We hope we’ve left you feeling inspired to give them a try.

Looking to kick-start your career in fitness?

Give our free prospectus a read, or check out OriGym's Personal Training Diploma to get a feel for what you could be learning! 

 

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Written by Chloe Twist

Qualified Personal Trainer & Blogger

Chloe is a qualified Personal Trainer with a passion for blogging, gaming, and playing the guitar. When she's not in the gym, she can be found in her room either swinging kettlebells or binging on Netflix.