Have you ever wondered if resistance bands really work? Can you really get stronger using rubber bands?
The answer is yes – absolutely. Although they’re not the answer to everyone’s needs, resistance bands are a great way to gain strength.
Let’s bust some myths about resistance bands.
Myth #1: Resistance bands are only for lightweight rehabilitation
Resistance bands have a reputation for being used in physical therapy programs to rehabilitate muscles after an injury. While this is a phenomenal use for bands, it’s not the only use.
Resistance bands aren’t all lightweight. In fact, many companies make extra-strong bands that create 600+ pounds of force. These bands are designed to be used with a bar and footplate (otherwise, you couldn’t get 600 pounds of force).
There is a band for every level of force you’ll ever need. If you need more than 600 pounds of force for a given exercise, you can stack it with another, lighter band.
Myth #2: You’ll never get strong with resistance bands
Building strength requires four things:
- Progressive overload
- Muscle adaptation
You can get all of this from bodyweight exercises, free weights, machines, and bands. With bands, you can get stronger faster with less effort.
This is supported by numerous studies that concluded resistance band training promotes similar strength gains to conventional weight training. However, people who achieve the most significant strength gains aren’t using tubular bands anchored under their feet – they’re using flat bands with a footplate and bar.
You need flat bands and a footplate to gain significant strength
When compared to building strength with free weights and machines, bands get similar results, but only with the right bands and the proper routine.
For example, if you’re standing on cheap tube bands for a shoulder press, you’ll stop seeing results when your feet can no longer hold the force of the band. If you’re using flat bands without a bar, you’ll stop seeing results when your hands can’t handle the force.
However, with a flat band, a footplate, and a bar, you can lift heavier bands, get stronger faster with a time under tension protocol, and you won’t risk injuring your feet or your hands.
On a side note, you won’t automatically gain size by gaining strength. You can see this truth by watching powerlifters who are often smaller, yet stronger than bodybuilders. To gain size, you need to eat a specific calorie-dense diet.
Myth #3: Band deadlifts are useless
When deadlifting with a band, you can apply more force to your muscles than you can with a barbell, which helps you completely fatigue your muscle to stimulate more muscle growth. You also get the benefits of variable resistance, which makes band deadlifts safer.
You can perform more repetitions with a band because you don’t have a weaker range of motion like you do with a barbell. This helps you fatigue your muscles faster with fewer sets. With a band, when you start to become fatigued, you can shorten your range and continue doing reps until your muscles are completely fatigued.
Variable resistance is beneficial
Variable resistance is what allows you to fatigue your muscles faster with fewer sets and less risk of injury. In this video, John from Jaquish Biomedical demonstrates the unparalleled benefits of deadlifting with a band. He uses a force meter to show the variance in resistance as he performs some deadlifts.
Variance is important for several reasons, including preventing injury. When deadlifting with a barbell, the weight never varies and resistance is constant, which puts you at risk for injury at the lower position. That’s not the case with bands, which have little resistance in the lower position.
In the demo linked above, the load starts at 20 pounds in the lowest position. As he lifts, the load increases to around 350 pounds at the top, which is the safer range for heavy lifting.
All resistance bands are not equal
The resistance bands you use will impact your results. Cheap bands won’t produce the same results as high-quality bands because cheap bands are often difficult to use properly.
For example, cheap band handles are often slick plastic, which makes it hard to grip without gloves. Without a proper grip, it’s hard to get proper reps.
So, which bands are good, and which ones should be avoided?
Although price isn’t always an accurate way to measure band quality, there is a correlation between higher-priced bands and quality. That’s because high-quality bands cost more to produce.
However, low-quality band prices are often inflated, so you can’t judge a band on price alone. You need to know how to determine a sturdy band and how to identify a strong handle system.
Avoid buying heavy bands from department stores
Take a stroll down the fitness aisle at Walmart or Target and you’ll find a bunch of resistance bands packaged in boxes marked “light,” “medium,” and “heavy.” Some bands are braided, while others are made from a thin, single layer of material.
If you look closely at these bands, you’ll notice the bands are fitted through the nylon part of the handle through a grommet and capped off on the other side. This is a dangerous handle configuration, and these bands can snap even with light use.
If you’ve ever experienced a snapped band, you don’t want to repeat that experience. If you must use cheap bands, limit yourself to light bands only. Heavy bands cause more serious injuries when they snap.
There are companies that make high-quality, strong tubular bands with secure handles. For instance, the best tubular band handles connect to a metal ring with a carabiner.
Who should use resistance bands?
While everyone can use resistance bands, not everyone will enjoy using them. If you grew up working out in the gym, it might be difficult to transition to a bands-only workout.
Your workout equipment should always be a personal choice. If you enjoy lifting weights and using machines, there’s nothing wrong with that.
However, when you don’t have room for equipment, you’re on a budget, or you want to lessen your risk of injury, resistance bands will be perfect for you. What’s most important is that you get the equipment that meets your preferences and needs.
Get professional fitness training at home – no gym required
While you can find videos on YouTube for various exercises, you’ll get better results with a fitness trainer.
With our online strength training program, your coach will design a personalized routine that will help you reach your goals while training at home.
We also offer nutritional expertise that will help whether you’re trying to gain mass, lose fat, or just stay healthy.
Contact us today to learn more about our strength training and fitness training programs. With our training, you won’t get a cookie-cutter routine – you’ll get exactly what you need to reach your fitness goals.
Nathan DeMetz holds degrees in Exercise Science, Business Administration, and Information Technology as well as certifications in strength and conditioning, sports nutrition, run coaching, and other areas. His credentials come from organizations such as Indiana Wesleyan University, Ivy Tech College, Utah State University, and the ISSA College of Exercise Science.
Nathan has 20 years of personal and professional experience in the health and fitness world. He works with people from across the globe, including locations such as Kuwait, Australia, and the USA.
To work with Nathan directly on your personal training goals, contact him today!