Can Resistance Bands Build Muscle?

can resistance band build muscle

Yes. Resistance bands are one of the best tools to build muscle.

A 2019 study even shows that resistance band training provides similar strength gains to using conventional gym equipment!

How do you build muscle?

Muscle building or hypertrophy occurs when the muscle protein synthesis (protein buildup) exceeds muscle protein breakdown.

So how do you trigger muscle protein synthesis and thus hypertrophy?

There are 3 main factors involved in this process.

1. Mechanical tension

Muscles grow when you subject them to tension or resistance. Now this tension can come from resistance bands, free weights, machines, or your body weight. As long as you put enough stress on your muscles, your body doesn’t care about what kind of tension it is and hence you build muscle.

Along with the right amount of mechanical tension, what’s equally important is the “time under tension” (TUT) i.e. the total time in which your muscles are under tension during an exercise set.

If you want to trigger muscle growth, the ideal TUT per set should be 30-70 seconds. To achieve this, you need to be at about 75% of your 1-rep max to hit the right amount of tension.

2. Metabolic stress

When we engage in low to medium-intensity exercises, our muscles work aerobically i.e. they use oxygen to meet the body’s energy demands. But during short bursts (1-3 mins) of high-intensity workouts such as weightlifting or HIIT, our muscles start to work anaerobically due to a lack of oxygen.

When this happens, your body breaks down glucose into lactate and other metabolites. This build-up of lactate causes your muscle cells to swell in what is referred to as metabolic stress or “the pump”.

Research shows that the pump or the “burn” you feel in your muscles is an important trigger for hypertrophy.

And guess what? Resistance bands are actually better than free weights at maximizing your pumps!!

Say you’re doing a bicep curl. When you use a dumbbell, you don’t get maximum resistance at the top of the range of motion. But with resistance bands, you have resistance all the way through the range of motion and when you reach the peak contraction stage, the resistance is the greatest (the longer you stretch the band, the harder it gets, remember?)

3. Muscle damage

During resistance training, your muscle fibers get damaged and sustain microtears which in turn stimulate protein synthesis.

So what is the best way to stimulate muscle damage? Eccentric training.

Research shows that having an eccentric (muscle lengthening) phase that is double the length of the concentric (muscle shortening) phase has a positive effect on muscle growth.

So, if you were doing a bicep curl, for instance, you need to spend a few extra seconds on the eccentric phase (lowering the resistance band towards the ground), as this would cause higher muscle damage and hence more muscle growth.

 How to build muscle using resistance bands

1. Mechanical tension

Goal: Aim for a Time Under Tension of 30-70 seconds.


Choose a heavier resistance band and train at about 75%-80% of your 1-rep max.

Spend 1 second on the concentric phase, with a good squeeze at the top (isometric) for 1 second, and then 1 second on the eccentric phase. That’s 3 seconds per rep. If you’re doing 10 reps, then that works out to 30 seconds of TUT.

2. Metabolic stress

Goal: Maximize your pump


  • Up the volume. For instance, you could do 2 to 3 sets of 15 to 20 reps of isolation exercises like bicep curls, with 1 min rest between sets.
  • Fatigue your muscles. Perform high-intensity exercises which will force your muscles to work anaerobically.
  • Focus on your isometric squeezes. Maximum pump happens when your muscle is in the most shortened phase of contraction. So spend a few extra seconds at the top of the range of motion during your exercise, don’t rush through your reps.

 3. Muscle damage

Goal: Eccentric training


Focus on the eccentric phase of your exercises with maximum resistance.

Train with a heavier resistance band at 80% of your 1-rep max, spending around 3 seconds on the eccentric part of the move.

Watch this video to know more about how to build muscle using resistance bands.

Now that you know that resistance bands can build muscle, there’s no reason not to get them ASAP!

Take a look at Burnlab’s high-quality, durable resistance bands and tubes today!

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