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When thinking about general weight training we typically think of barbells, dumbbells, cable machines and the like. However, there are many benefits of resistance bands in training, they should not be looked overlooked, yet they are typically underused. They have many benefits for a variety of goals and within this article, I will be breaking down the benefits of resistance bands that are most relevant to specific goals.
Resistance Bands and Their Benefits in Strength Training:
When we think of strength training, working with heavy weights and lower reps is what usually comes to mind, and for good reason. However, we should also think about adding resistance bands into the mix. Whether it’s to work on a weak point in a lift, add an overall variation to the lift, or give our speed work days an added bonus.
In all our lifts, there is something called a strength curve. This refers to a non-linear line of where a lift is easiest, and where it is hardest. For our lifts like the squat, bench press, and deadlift, when we begin the concentric phase of the movement, the difficulty is at its peak and decreases as the movement progresses. Adding bands allows us to even out the strength curve by progressively increasing weight as the bands stretch.
This is great for working on weak points, especially if yours is at the lockout as peak tension will be placed at the top portion of the lift, therefore, it will no longer be the easiest part of the lift, it will be levelled out. If your weak point is at the bottom portion or mid-range, bands still help because there will still be more tension at those areas that you will have to overcome as it progressively increases.
Bands are great for adding overall variation in our training, they can be used in many forms, like in the form of a reverse band (helping the weight up at the hardest part of the lift) allowing you to utilize more weight. This is great for overloading the lift which allows your body to feel/get used to the heavier weight. However, they also add an instability effect as they are not a rigid material, they can flex and move which doesn’t create a set place of tension. This is great for challenging stabilizing muscles and really tasks your core stability.
When we strength train, we often include days or blocks of programming that we work on speed. This is teaching our muscles to use our strength quickly and forcefully, which is beneficial for strength training. Bands are a great option for this type of training and are commonly used for this within the strength training community. Bands are beneficial for this because as they stretch and apply more tension you are forced to power through that tension without slowing down.
Resistance Bands For Hypertrophy:
Resistance bands in relation to hypertrophy have a few different benefits. With the main ones being evening out the strength curve (relative to hypertrophy), applying more force on the eccentric and giving us the ability to add variation in our training. Let’s get into these concepts with more detail below.
We know that there is a strength curve to our exercises, and applying bands in a way that benefits those strength curves can be effective. For example, in an exercise like the leg press, we know that the hardest portion of the lift would be at the bottom. When we attach the bands, they would apply the least resistance at this point, and as the exercise progresses it becomes easier. While this is happening, the bands are simultaneously lengthening, continually adding tension which is keeping constant stress on your legs by evening out the strength curve. This is great because it allows us to maximally utilize the full range of motion and recruit more muscle fibres as the exercise gets easier, compared to if we didn’t apply bands.
When we are using bands we know they lengthen on the concentric, however, on the eccentric they want to shorten. This means they will be applying more tension on the eccentric portion of the movement. Now is this used most effectively? No. This because they will be applying more force at the start of the eccentric when it is already most difficult. However, seeing as we are largely stronger on the eccentric anyways, it is still beneficial overall. Using bands helps make the eccentric more effective, which is beneficial to one of the mechanisms for muscle growth, which is eccentric damage of a muscle.
Lastly, we have the added benefit of variation in our training. Not only do resistance bands have direct benefits and applications when being compared to using straight up weights. However, it is great to have different exercise selections using resistance bands. Whether it is using resistance bands alone, turning exercises not typically done for hypertrophy, into beneficial hypertrophy exercises. Or just a change in the overall training stimulus as variation is often times a good thing!
All in all, this article has given you an idea as to the specific ways that resistance bands can benefit you. This for a couple different goals, strength and hypertrophy. Whether it’s benefiting resistance curves, working on weak points or enhancing the overall lift in some way, all the way to adding overall variation.
If you are interested in resistance bands, you can check out my review “Rogue Fitness Resistance Bands – Review” to learn about the resistance bands I use!
I thank you for taking the time to read this article, and look forward to you using resistance bands to your advantage in the future! As always, if you have any questions or comments please do not hesitate to leave them below and I will be sure to reply!
Until Next Time,
Please refer to my liability disclaimer to ensure you know who is responsible for use of this information after reading.