Resistance bands have been gaining popularity, especially in the post-pandemic days. These colorful, stretchy, rubber-band-like equipment are now a staple in most home gyms, commercial gyms, rehab centers, and more.
And there’s data to validate that!
The global resistance bands market size is expected to reach USD 393.4 million by 2028 with a CAGR of 8.7% from 2022 to 2028!
But if you’re new to the world of resistance bands, (there are various types of them BTW), you’re probably wondering what all the fuss is about.
In this blog, we'll share with your 11 amazing benefits of resistance bands that’ll make you want to own a set right away!
1. Build your muscles
When it comes to muscle-building, resistance bands are right up there.
Ever heard of the “pump” effect? That’s when your muscle cells swell due to the build-up of lactate and other metabolites which happens when your muscles work anaerobically. Research shows that the pump is the main trigger for muscle growth. (Arnold Schwarzenegger can vouch for this!)
And guess what? Resistance bands are even better than free weights in maximising your pumps!
Another key advantage of resistance bands is that they have linear variable resistance i.e., the resistance provided by the band increases as the range of motion of the exercise increases. So, your muscles would receive the greatest resistance at their strongest point in the range of motion, and hence your muscular strength increases. (In a bicep curl, for instance, the resistance would be the greatest at the top of the range of motion when you pull the band towards your shoulder.)
2. Aid in weight loss
Since resistance bands are super-effective at building muscle, it’s no surprise that they help in weight loss too.
After all, more muscle mass = increase in metabolic rate = more calories burned even at rest!
The resistance band benefits for weight loss don’t stop there! As per a 2022 study, it was seen that resistance band training lowers body fat in overweight or obese people better than free weights training or bodyweight exercises.
3. Can be used for assistance or resistance
The great thing about resistance bands - you can use them to make exercises either easier or harder.
For instance, when you do pull-ups with power bands, the bands will stretch out when you move towards the ground and then recoil when you try to go back up, thus assisting you to get over that pull-up bar.
You can wrap resistance bands around the ends of a barbell or use them in tandem with a power rack or weight bench to make your squats, deadlifts, bicep curls, chest flies, or chest presses more challenging.
Resistance bands are also perfect for calisthenics enthusiasts and can be used to make moves such as dips, and push-ups harder and exercises including front levers, muscle-ups, and planches easier.
4. Amp up your functional fitness
Any type of exercise that equips you for daily life would come under functional fitness training. It trains your muscles by simulating everyday movements including squatting, bending, pulling, pushing, etc.
Resistance bands are particularly awesome for functional fitness because of one major factor.
They offer resistance in all 3 planes of motion - sagittal, frontal, and transverse. (unlike free weights which only offer resistance in a vertical direction).
This means you can add resistance to all kinds of movements, especially the all-important transverse plane ones such as throws, kicks, twists, turns, punches, and even movements that mimic throwing a ball or swinging a bat. This also means that you can just change the anchored position of the bands and hence target more muscle groups without altering your body position.
5. Are great for warmup and mobility work
Resistance bands can be used in warm-ups to prime the muscles that you’re targeting during your main workout.
For instance, say you want to do an upper-body or chest workout. You could warm up your rotator cuff muscles by using a resistance band for internal and external shoulder rotation exercises.
Bands are also great for enhancing your mobility i.e. your range of motion, especially within your joints. Increased mobility equals lower chances of injuries. Band pull-aparts, for example, are fantastic for improving your scapular mobility and strength in the back and shoulder muscles.
6. Are the perfect cool-down and stretching tools
After a grueling workout, one of the best tools to cool down the body and perform static stretches (30-60 second stretches) is the resistance band.
The banded hamstring stretch, for instance, can loosen out those tight hamstrings, and improve your hamstring flexibility which translates to better sprints, deadlifts, squats, etc.
The main advantage of bands is that they help you achieve a deeper stretch and get into positions that you normally wouldn’t be able to. (unless you’re Jaspreet Singh Kalra!)
As per a 2019 study, it was found that the flexibility and range of motion of 23 rugby players improved considerably after a 5-week elastic band training program.
7. Improve athletic performance
Doesn’t matter what sports you’re into, resistance bands can take your skills up a notch!
Soccer players!! Resistance band training is as effective as pumping iron in improving your sprint speed, agility, vertical jump height, and strength.
Runners!! When you train with hip bands it results in stronger and more stable hips which translate to better running, jumping, and the ability to transfer force from your lower body to your upper body.
Basketball players!! Lateral resistance bands are amazing training tools, especially for defensive drills. They also improve your first-step quickness, lateral speed, agility, and balance.
Check out Virat Kohli getting his lower-body workout on with a mini resistance band!
8. Are beneficial for elderly people
Know how Sylvester Stallone keeps himself fit and fabulous at 76? Resistance bands, of course!
Have a listen at what "Rock" has to say...
There are plenty of other reasons why senior citizens should embrace resistance band training.
- One study found that resistance band exercises reduced depression in older adults with dementia.
- Another study showed that therapy band training helped prevent and reduce the effects of sarcopenia in older adults. This training also helped increase the dynamic balance, functional reach, and mobility of the elderly.
- A 2018 study showed that resistance band training had a beneficial effect on muscle mass, muscle quality, and physical function in older women with sarcopenic obesity.
- In one study, researchers compared the effects of resistance band training and recreational exercise on a group of active older adults. It was found that the resistance band group had a bigger improvement in grip strength, arm strength, and gross motor abilities.
Now you know what to gift your grandparents (or parents) for their birthdays! 😉
9. Are extremely versatile
Resistance bands usually come in a set with varying resistance levels (light, medium, heavy, etc.). This gives you plenty of options in terms of workouts.
For instance, you can use light bands for your stretch session or if you’re a beginner. Heavy bands, on the other hand, can be used for pull-up assistance or advanced-level exercises.
Even if you don’t have a complete set of bands, you can try combining different bands to increase the difficulty level of your exercises. Or even adjust the resistance of any band by giving it more or less slack. The sky’s the limit!!
10. Are affordable and portable
You don’t have to miss out on your strength training, just because you’re on a holiday or a business trip. Just roll up a set of 2 or 3 resistance bands in your suitcase and you’re good to go. (You surely can’t do that with a set of dumbbells!!)
Resistance bands aren’t just lightweight, they are “light” on your wallet too! You could get a premium-quality set of resistance bands for under Rs. 2500. That’s just a fraction of the price compared to a good set of dumbbells or a fancy gym membership!
11. Are ideal for rehabilitation
Resistance bands are the OG physical therapy and rehab tools. (They’ve been in use ever since the early 1900s!!)
As per a 2021 study, it was seen that resistance band exercises were an effective physical therapy intervention for improving shoulder function in older adults.
These bands are ideal for rehabbing injuries including Ankle sprains, Tennis elbow, runner’s knee, IT band syndrome, Hip bursitis, etc.
But what makes them so effective?
- They can be used to offer resistance to any movement and from any angle (unlike free weights).
- They are less taxing on your joints and spine.
- You can make subtle intensity progressions just by altering your grip position on the band.
- The chances of re-injuring yourself are minuscule.
- They are highly effective in recruiting your stabilizer muscles.
- They provide greater eccentric contraction and hence enhance joint stability.
Here's Novak Djokovic rehabbing from his injury with a resistance band.
Disadvantages of resistance bands
There are a few disadvantages with resistance bands too that you should bear in mind.
- It can be hard to measure and quantify gains.
- They can snap and break if they are of poor quality or not maintained well.
- It can be difficult to reflect on previous training levels to determine progress.
Whether you want to build muscle, lose weight, up your functional fitness game, or improve your sports skills, resistance bands are the one-stop solution.
So, what are you waiting for? Browse through Burnlab’s collection of best resistance bands and grab a set today!