Working out with resistance bands - Toning Band Rear Dealt Raise 1What do resistance bands do and how does it work?

Simply put: Resistance bands are adding resistance to an exercise.

Compared to free weights, resistance bands do not have a constant resistance. To give you an example: When you pick up a dumbbell from the floor the weight remains the same all the way (even though tension on the body increases and decreases, but that’s a different topic). However, when you pull a resistance band it starts off easy and gets heavier the further you pull.

One advantage of this is that you are naturally exerting more force the further you pull which is something that comes in very handy in daily life’s functional movements. You also learn to not just hold a weight in the end position but to actively hold against the band wanting to pull you back which benefits your core strength and body stabilization.

I have been travelling a lot in the past years and my resistance bands have always been travelling with me. Read more about me here. In this blog post I am summarising the main benefits of working out with resistance bands.


Benefits of working out with resistance bands

There are literally so many benefits or working out with resistance bands that I only picked the ones that I feel are the most important ones.


Benefit #1 – NO excuses

Bands are very inexpensive compared to other fitness equipment. You can work out anywhere and any time. You can even take them with you when you travel because they don’t consume a lot of space. My own set of bands has seen so many beautiful places on this planet. It has saved me many times when there was no gym available. Sometimes, I just wanted to get a nice outdoor workout in.


Benefit #2 – You can do strength training without using weights

Not everyone has access to weights or wants to train at the gym. Bands allow you to perform strength training without using weights. Adding bands is way more efficient than pure bodyweight exercises. Most gym exercises can also be done using bands if you get a bit creative.


Benefit #3 – EVERYONE can use bands

Resistance bands are suitable for complete fitness beginners up to top athletes. Beginners can start with a mix of bodyweight exercises and resistance band exercises. Athletes on the other hand benefit a lot from adding resistance bands to their training in order to add variation. Bands can even get attached to free weights or machines for different training purposes.


Benefit #5 – Training with bands can be more complex

Compared to training with machines working out with resistance bands requires a lot more focus from the person who is training. The movement is not guided through a machine which demands for more stabilization in the body. The person working out with resistance bands is therefore not only training muscles but also learning to execute movements. Muscle isolation is still possible with resistance bands, but most exercises are more full body exercises.


Benefit #5 – Low-risk functional training

Functional training using weights is very efficient but also puts you under a higher risk for injury compared to working out with resistance bands. You don’t need anyone to spot you during your resistance band training. In addition, it is a lot more friendly on the joints than weight training. This has to do with the fact that weights are constantly being pulled down by gravity. They are therefore exerting a higher compression on your joints. Resistance bands are not as much affected by gravity. Especially sensitive joints like the human shoulder are benefitting a lot from resistance band training because horizontal and rotational movements are possible with a lot less joint compression.


Benefit #6 – You will not “get big” from resistance band training

I know this is a very controversial point. As I’m working mostly with women I know that this is the number one concern most women have when they take the decision to start working out. They would like to get stronger and tone their body but they do not want to “bulk up” and look like a female athlete. Working out with resistance bands is a great way for getting stronger and building up some lean muscles to tone the body. It would be pretty hard work to actually build up your physique and put on a lot of muscle mass. Therefore I believe that resistance bands are the perfect fitness accessories for women who are not into things like bodybuilding, powerlifting, crossfit, etc.

I could continue talking about the benefits of working out with resistance bands. But to sum it up: Training with resistance bands is super simple but extremely efficient!


Limitations of working out with resistance bands

I am not seeing many limitations in working out with resistance bands, but for completeness sake I will list the few that can be seen as limitations.


Limitation #1 – Difficult to measure progress

Quantifying and measuring progress is difficult when working out with resistance bands. Therefore, number-driven people might get a little bit frustrated. You will not be able to say “I moved 5kg more than last week.”. It is not possible to measure precisely how much weight you have moved. However, I love training with bands for how it makes me feel: Learning to make controlled movements, feeling the body and mind working and the muscles burning after the workout, as well as seeing the changes in my body.


Limitation #2 – Bands can break

…but so can any kind of fitness accessory. Therefore, it’s not really a limitation. However, if a band breaks while you are performing the exercise, unpleasant things can happen such as the band slapping you in the face. I have seen broken bands lying around the gym and I have seen videos online of bands breaking but it has never ever happened during my own workouts.


Limitation #3 – Push movements are more difficult than pull movements

Bands are not stable like machines and can be more difficult to handle than free weights. When you start working out with resistance bands you might feel that push movements (such as overhead press) feel a bit wobbly. However, this will get better soon when you keep practising. You will learn to keep your body a lot more stable.


Which bands to get?

There are literally so many different brands on the market these days because bands are coming more into fashion, especially the so-called “booty bands” or “mini bands”. The difference in quality can be extreme! I just recently had a client who proudly showed me the new bands she purchased on Amazon. They looked very pretty in pink and purple colours but they are completely useless regarding their quality.

There are currently two different brands I am referring to my clients:

  1. The bands from Strength Shop
  2. The bands from Perform Better

I personally am now using Strength Shop Equipment.


Sample Exercises

These are just some sample exercises for working out with resistance bands. They are supposed to give you a feeling for what training with bands can look like.

Toning Band Rear Dealt Raise

Toning Band Rear Dealt Raise 2 Toning Band Rear Dealt Raise 1

Mini Loop Band Fire Hydrant

Mini Band Fire Hydrant 2Mini Band Fire Hydrant 1

Toning Band Military Press

Toning Band Military Press 1Toning Band Military Press 2