Resistance Bands are made out of strong, thin rubber and they come in various sizes and resistances. They are great multi-purpose exercise tools that can help improve your fitness. You can use resistance bands exclusively or you can combine them with other exercise equipment. They can also be used for mobility/stretching or for strength training.
The true benefits of bands come from its elastic properties. For instance, free weights rely on gravity to provide resistance and usually restrict you to doing an exercise in the vertical plane only. However, bands allow you have resistance in the horizontal plane and everywhere else in between. Performing exercises in a horizontal plane will mimic more functional movements and will better prepare you for daily tasks such as turning your body while carrying a heavy box.
Not only are the resistance bands extremely functional but they also provide a unique challenge for your muscles when it comes to strength training. Bands offer progressive resistance. What this means is that, as the range of motion of the exercise increases, the resistance provided by the elastic equipment increases. For example, when doing a biceps curl, as you curl your hand up toward your shoulder, the resistance of the elastic band increases. It becomes harder. With the progressive resistance, the number of muscle fibers that are being used in the exercising muscle increase as you go through the range of motion. The more muscle fibers being used, greater are the adaptations in muscle strength. Free-weight resistance does not offer this benefit.
Lastly, a crucial advantage that resistance bands offer is that it limits the use of momentum while trying to get a weight to move. It’s harder to “cheat” when using bands. The only way to continue a movement while performing an exercise with elastic resistance is to utilize more muscle fibers in the exercising muscle to continue stretching the elastic material. More muscle activation = more muscle adaptations = more strength gains.
Ultimately, a program that uses elastic resistance can provide benefits that are not offered by free-weight resistance programs such as: more functional strength, better injury prevention, greater ability to change muscle emphasis during exercises, greater muscle power development and easier use. From the beginners to the experts, anyone can benefit from resistance bands.
Blog post authored by trainer Glenn Medeiros.