Resistance bands may appear to be a cheap, less than an effective alternative to barbells, dumbbells, and weight machines, but looks can be deceiving. Resistance band training can actually provide you with an awesome, cost-effective, in-home training option that can build muscle, enhance strength, and get you, fitter, faster. Here are six resistance band training benefits to getting your swole on.
- Building Muscle
- Home Workout Solution
- Stabilizer Muscles
- Unilateral Exercise
- Greater Range of Motion
- Increased Intensity
- Wrap Up
Training with resistance bands places a different type of stress on your muscles than what you get with barbells and dumbells. That’s because the amount of resistance changes over the course of repetition. As you move the resistance band toward full contraction and the band stretches, the exercise gets harder. That places more stress on the working muscle than if you were using a barbell or dumbbells, making it work harder during the last third of the rep. And the more stress you can place on the working muscle, the greater its growth potential.
When you do an exercise with a barbell or dumbbells, there is very little, if any, resistance in the contracted position. Think, for example, of a barbell curl. You could hold the top position of the exercise for half an hour because your biceps are not doing any work. Contrast that to a resistance band where the movement is hardest in the top position because the band is at peak stretchability. This allows for greater force contraction and extended time under tension.
Home Workout Solution
Resistance bands provide the ultimate home workout solution. You can purchase a quality resistance band set for about the same price that you’d pay for a single forty-four-pound weight plate. Yet, that band set will provide you with everything you need to simulate virtually every barbell, dumbbell, and machine exercise in a commercial gym.
Resistance bands do a great job of emulating barbells and dumbbells, as we’ve already covered. But they also allow you to simulate those big, expensive cable machines you see in gyms. Resistance band sets come with an attachment that allows you to anchor them to any internal door. The band then becomes a cable machine, allowing you to do a vast array of movements, including chest presses, lat pulldowns, and flyers.
Resistance bands provide you with the ability to work your muscles from an infinite variety of angles. Simply adjust the position on the door where you anchor the band, and your target muscle will be stimulated from a completely different direction.
When you exercise with a resistance band, your body needs to adjust to the unique stress that it imposes upon your body. The imbalance created by the band resistance requires that you make use of stabilizer muscles to balance your body. Your core muscles are especially important in keeping your body stable and coordinated. As a result, every exercise you do with a set of resistance bands recruits stabilizer muscles.
When you do an exercise with a resistance band, you are working your muscles unilaterally. That means that the left and right side of the muscle are forced to take their own load. This overcomes a major weakness of working with barbells and machines. In these cases, the stronger side will always take over and carry the bulk of the resistance. This will progressively make the strength imbalance worse and result in disproportionate muscular development.
Resistance band training forces each side of a muscle to take its own load to promote even strength and muscle development. This is especially the case when doing a resistance band exercise for legs. For example, when you do squats with a barbell or a machine, your stronger side will compensate for the weaker leg and take most of the load. This not only leads to a muscle and strength imbalance, but may also result in poor form as you come out of the squat unevenly. With bands, however, each leg carries its own load, resulting in a more uniform exercise performance.
Greater Range of Motion
Another benefit that bands have over barbells and machines is that they allow you to bring your hands together when doing an exercise. Barbells and machines fix your hands in a set position. This prevents a full range of motion and contraction on certain exercises. An example of this is the bench press, where your hands are fixed on the bar at shoulder width, preventing you from bringing the hands together in the top position to get a complete chest contraction.
Resistance bands allow you to not only bring your hands together in exercises such as chest presses but to cross them over for an even more intense contraction. This allows for a more significant chest stimulation than you can get with barbells or machines. The greater range of motion that you get with bands also allows you to more effectively do various exercises for the butt.
We have already discussed reasons why resistance bands offer benefits over barbells and dumbbells. But that doesn’t mean they should replace them entirely. In fact, you can get enhanced results by combining resistance bands with barbells and dumbbells. Here’s how, using the example of barbell curls:
Stand with a resistance band looped under your feet and held at arm’s length with an underhand grip. Also hold a barbell which is about 30% lighter than you would normally use for eight reps. Now perform twelve reps as you curl both the band and the bar. This will provide you with extra resistance in the contracted position of the exercise.
When you have completed twelve reps, put down the barbell, and then continue for another eight to twelve reps with just the band. This is an advanced form of a drop set that allows you to increase your time under tension and place greater stress on the working muscle.
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You can build some serious muscle with resistance band training. Bands provide you with an inexpensive way to train in the comfort of your home or when traveling, even if you have virtually no space in which to exercise. Investing in bands simply makes good sense if you are interested in getting a gym-quality workout at home.