They’re more than just for warming up.
Resistance bands have long been thought of as tools for a solid warmup or for rehabbing a recovering or sore muscle. But resistance bands offer way more benefits than just warming up. With simple changes in your workout regimen, resistance bands can make great improvements to your gains.
The great part about resistance bands is that they provide solid supplemental workouts to your already big lift. To build strength, it requires your body to push the muscles to the point of overload. As a result, slight tears in the muscle fibers occur and that space can now be filled with more muscle. Resistance bands are great ways for strength training because they put pressure on the muscle, and they are very simple to use.
With many options for bands on the market, the choices allow for more diversity in your workouts and better options overall. The heavy-duty bands are a great choice, and arguably the best option, because they can be used for all aspects of the workout. From a pre-workout stretch, to a supplemental aid during, and that post-workout recovery, the heavy-duty bands offer versatility and comfort to see big gains. Other types of bands include the tube resistance bands, which are a similar premise but with handles, and the light bands, which are great for therapy.
So, before you brush resistance bands aside as something not worth pursuing, at least hear out the benefits these bands will have on your workouts. They are travel friendly, offer multiple levels of difficulty, and provide solid supplemental exercises to see great muscle growth. Don’t be afraid to take a break from the big weights and try resistance bands for a much-needed change in your workout routine.
Provide For A Solid Warm-Up
While resistance bands aid in muscle growth, it is important to focus on the warm-up aspect of resistance bands before all else. Dynamic stretches are great ways to warm-up with bands (1) and can really get your heart rate up as well as increase mobility and flexibility to prime your body for your workout. Bands are also great ways to keep pressure off the joint immediately before a workout and allow your tendons, ligaments, and joints to ease into action. With the ability to prioritize the exact amount of strain you wish to put on the body, resistance bands offer the flexibility to do so depending on how you feel.
Resistance bands allow you to target specific muscles in order to effectively see growth. Resistance bands are perfect for building muscle and boosting athletic performance in order to see strength gains (2) because they can be used for either compound movements or explosive exercises. What many people don’t understand is that resistance bands cause the same tears in your muscles that weights do, thus allowing your body to repair with new additional muscle increasing muscle size and strength. It can be common to think that resistance bands do not have the same effect as weights, but resistance at the end of the day is still resistance and bands can add a substantial amount of weight to a bodyweight workout.
If you can’t seem to part with free weights, then combine them with resistance bands and get that added benefit of increased strength and power (3). Bands add resistance right at the strongest point of your workout and allow that added challenge of fighting through. Keeping that extra tension on the muscle is important to note with resistance bands because never during the exercise does that targeted muscle get a break. You won’t suffer a loss of tension and you will maximize the effects of each and every workout simply by using a band, or adding one to your free weight regimen.
Improved Range Of Motion
Resistance bands will offer the benefit of increasing your range of motion by allowing more muscle fibers to be activated. Free weights can limit your maximum range of motion, but bands will add that slight benefit to reach your maximum capacity. With the increased tension that bands tend to keep on the muscles, it allows us to strengthen smaller, often overlooked muscles that can have a great impact on our range of motion. With a greater range of motion, our lifts will be more productive, and the risk of injury significantly decreases.
Builds Mind-Muscle Connection
Having a positive mind-muscle connection is vital to increase gains in the gym. Learning to control the mental signal sent out during an exercise can allow for greater muscle activation and increased muscle growth (4). While there are many ways to build a better mind-muscle connection, resistance bands offer two simple and effective ways: using lighter weight and improving form. Resistance bands allow you to control just how much weight you want to lift (5). The versality of a band allows for a more accurate sense of just how much weight will produce the most effective gains. Since bands keep tension on the muscles, you don’t sacrifice as much by dropping down in weight. As a result of using lighter weight, you allow yourself to focus more on form and not so much on numbers. Increased form will improve bigger lifts and avoid injuries, all of which lead to those sought after gains.
While resistance bands are great tools for warming up and cooling down, the benefits to strength and muscle growth should not be overlooked. Don’t let past perceptions of resistance bands ruin your chances of seeing well-deserved growth in your workouts. Whether you choose to use them alone, or add them to your free weight regimen, you will see the benefits come to life by simply changing your routine. As versatile and affordable options to add to your workouts, resistance bands can be used anywhere and are great tools for a traveling gym. Find the right bands for you and slide them into your workout plan because once you start using resistance bands, your prior misconceptions surrounding them will soon be tossed out the window. Use them to your advantage and see big gains in all aspects of your workout.
*Images courtesy of Envato
- Tilley, Nigel R.; Macfarlane, Alison (2012). “Effects on different warm-up programs on golf performance in elite male golfers”. (source)
- Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research (2010). “Effects of Elastic Band Resistance Training”. (source)
- Shoepe, Todd C.; Ramirez, David A.; Rovetti, Robert J.; Kohler, David R.; Almstedt, Hawley C. (2011). “The Effects of 24 weeks of Resistance Training with Simultaneous Elastic and Free Weight Loading on Muscular Performance of Novice Lifters”. (source)
- Calatayud, Joaquin; Vinstrup Jonas; Jakobsen, Markus D.; Sundstrup, Emil; Brandt, Mikkel; Jay, Kenneth; Colado, Juan Carlos; Andersen, Lars Louis (2016). “Importance of mind-muscle connection during progressive resistance training”. (source)
- Uchida, Marco Carlos; Nishida, Marcio Makoto; Carvalho Sampio, Ricardo Aurelio; Moritani, Toshio; Arai, Hidenori (2016). “Thera-band elastic band tension: reference values for physical activity”. (source)