Fitness Articles

No Need to Stretch the Truth about Resistance Bands

Variation, Convenience, Affordability


You hear about them. You see people using them in the gym. They’re in stores, on TV, and have entire fitness classes designed around them. You think about these stretchy bands and what good (if any) they do. You want to know: What are the benefits of training with resistance bands?

Everyone from beginners to conditioned athletes can benefit by adding resistance tubes/bands to their strength-training programs. Resistance bands can add challenge and variety to any workout program, and they come in a convenient (and affordable) little package.

To consistently see gains from a training program, and avoid hitting a plateau, it is essential that you are always varying your workout. This means alternating machine exercises, barbells, and dumbbells, and adding other elements like stability balls and resistance bands. The reason for this is simple: your body is smart & adaptable. Do the same exercises (same movements, same Range Of Motion, same angles) over and over, and the body is no longer challenged. It becomes efficient, and you no longer see gains.

The training possibilities of resistance bands are endless. They allow you to move more freely and achieve a greater range of motion (as opposed to a machine which controls where you start and stop). This allows you to create resistance from all directions—the side, overhead, below, etc. You can also adjust your angle of movement (by moving the fixed point higher or lower), and combine several exercises seamlessly. Bands also allow you to mimic movements that you do in real life. If you want to improve your golf or tennis swing, you can perform that exact motion against resistance—no machine can do that.

Bands can also be used alone (standing on a tube and doing a bicep curl, for example), or in combination with other elements that add even more challenge to your workout: stability balls, steps, Bosu balls, and wall mounts.

Resistance bands also differ in their degree of difficulty (signaled by various colors). The most stretchable bands have lighter resistance than the harder-to-stretch ones that offer heavier resistance. This, along with body position, allows you to customize the level of resistance to fit your strength level. You control the tension by shortening or lengthening the band. For example, when standing on a band to perform a bicep curl, add resistance by stepping closer to the handle, or make it lighter by stepping away from it.

When lifting weights, gravity plays a big part. You get more resistance during one part of the movement (lifting against gravity), but then gravity makes lowering the weight easier. When using bands, however, the resistance is constant, so you have to work harder.
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About The Author

Nicole Nichols Nicole Nichols
A certified personal trainer and fitness instructor with a bachelor's degree in health education, Nicole loves living a healthy and fit lifestyle and helping others do the same. Nicole was formerly SparkPeople's fitness expert and editor-in-chief, known on the site as "Coach Nicole." Make sure to explore more of her articles and blog posts.

Member Comments

  • Resistance bands are awesome until you accidentally get your hair caught in one. Be careful! - 2/11/2016 5:25:48 PM
  • I still personally prefer weights. I used to have a set of steel spring chest expanders but I only used those on addition to my weights (I used to train mostly with my barbell) . I wish I still kept up with it better I think I would have stayed fitter than abandoning it was an adult. - 1/12/2016 9:07:42 PM
  • Just bought some at Walmart....Came in 3 resistances....I guess I'm strong, because I need the hardest one to feel worked. No handles on these though....Have to just wrap them around my hands or knot the ends to use with a foot. - 8/4/2013 2:59:16 PM
  • Good article. I must get one for my hubby and me. - 5/10/2013 6:55:37 PM
  • are there any pictures of exercising with bands that do not have the handle. I'm trying to interest my friend but my bands don't have the handles. - 9/14/2012 2:27:54 PM
  • I wish to have one of these someday - 5/26/2012 4:20:37 PM
  • To say that resistance bands provide constant resistance throws me off a bit. At any level it always seems much less or weaker at the beginning of an exercise- say in the case of a curl, the first feet of travel have next to no resistance unless I have the heaviest band so shortened or doubled that I cannot even complete the range of motion.
    Maybe that's just me.... - 5/24/2012 10:16:26 AM
  • Resistance bands have helped me work my core muscles and they in turn are helping me have an awesome recovery from knee replacement surgery. - 5/17/2012 5:12:37 PM

  • I use a resestant band in the water - 5/16/2012 6:57:28 PM
  • I just borrowed a resistance band from my mom that was just laying around. I'm going to put it to good use. Thanks for the info! - 5/9/2012 9:44:42 AM
  • I love them for travelling. They don't weigh anything but it is like having dumbells in your suitcase! - 2/29/2012 4:10:25 PM
  • I love these for travel, even in an airport you can usually find an isolated unoccupied gate corner to get a few exercises in, which makes me feel so much better on the flight later. I almost always have them in my bag. Weightless weights until you stretch them - very handy! - 2/2/2012 3:10:25 PM
  • I just purchased a resistance band in the past week and now I'm uber excited to start using it! This was a nice intro article....I think I need to go look at the other articles and videos now! I'm hyped! - 1/16/2012 9:08:40 PM
    "When lifting weights, gravity plays a big part. You get more resistance during one part of the movement (lifting against gravity), but then gravity makes lowering the weight easier. When using bands, however, the resistance is constant, so you have to work harder. "

    I don't understand this at all. Compare, say, bicep curls with a bar/dumbbells and with resistance band. I've done it all those ways. Lifting is tough in both cases because you're working against the resistance of either the band or the weight of the dumbbells. Now, when you reach the top, you could let your arms snap back down but of course that wouldn't make a good exercise. So you lower them in a slow and controlled movement, once again working again the resistance of the band that is trying to pull your forearms back down, or against the weight of the dumbbells that, equally, is trying to pull your forearms down. The challenge is very similar.

    The only way the above quote makes sense is if when lifting weights, you swing down when gravity is on your side instead of lowering with a controlled, strong movement. And that's not the way I lift weights. - 11/12/2011 11:14:27 AM
  • My goodness I couldn't agree more. I think my husband and I have more varied strength resistance bands in our house than any other piece of equipment. I even have one in my purse to use at my desk at work! - 11/2/2011 10:00:28 AM

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