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.

You can work every muscle in your body by using resistance bands. Moreover, you can easily use them anywhere. They’re lightweight and take up hardly any space, making them easy to travel with or use at home, or even behind your desk at work. You can wrap a band around a doorknob, pole, chair, your ankle (for leg exercises) or almost any stable object. Plus, you can adjust the amount of resistance in seconds, quickly moving from one exercise to the next.

If you are on a tight budget, but want to purchase a piece of equipment that you can use at home, resistance bands are a great buy. Since you control the resistance, you only need one, even as you get stronger. You can find bands, most of which come with an illustrated guide of exercises, almost anywhere from Wal-Mart, to sporting goods stores, to online sources, and they average $10-25. For such a versatile, long-lasting piece of equipment, that’s a bargain!

To learn more, take a group fitness class or try a video (see Related Content at the right of the page for an online SparkPeople workout) that uses resistance bands. Once you get the moves down, you’ll see how you can perform any exercise that normally uses dumbbells or machines with a band. By incorporating resistance bands into your strength-training routine, you’ll add variety (to stave off those plateaus) and convenience (for the days you can’t make it to the gym) at minimal cost.

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Member Comments

  • I used resistance bands for my shoulder. Took awhile but did work.
  • I first used a band to recover from a frozen shoulder. My PT has created a workout I can use at home in France or the gym in the UK where she is based. I have a set of 6 and am about to go onto the second size. They're just great!
  • I am 69 1/2 years, 50 lbs over weight, a family that was full of diabetics (there were 9 and now there is 4) and my sugar is slowly rising. I have been on weight loss programs my whole life and still I struggle.

    And again I have returned to go back to what ever enters your mouth write it down. Still my best tool. I need to remove some weight then I will be able to be more active.
    A returnee many times
  • My resistance bands are a God send. I have limited space and these are just perfect. Love the article Coach!! Thanks so much!!
  • An extreme challenge for me. They hurt like crazy!!!
  • Love resistance bands. I found a set at thrift store for about a buck each & went looking for what on earth to do with them. Coach Nicole's videos are how I found Sparkpeople!

    My 80 year old aunt uses them in physical therapy. You can get different strengths to suit your fitness level. My favorite thing is that they take up almost no room to store!
  • Resistance bands are awesome until you accidentally get your hair caught in one. Be careful!
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • Good article. I must get one for my hubby and me.
  • 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.
  • I wish to have one of these someday
  • 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....
  • Resistance bands have helped me work my core muscles and they in turn are helping me have an awesome recovery from knee replacement surgery.

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.