Since lockdown measures have caused the closure of gyms, many people turned to home workouts. With that, the resistance bands started gaining its new found popularity. But many are still left confused as to what are resistance bands and how can they help you lose weight or tone up the body?
No matter what your current physique and workout routine is, the right resistance band will help you achieve any fitness goal. In this article we will cover in detail what resistance bands are, their use, types of resistance bands, and the many benefits that they unfold.
What are Resistance Bands?
Resistance bands are exercise tools made out of tough elastic material, usually latex or rubber. They come in various design shapes, from flat and tubular to loops and straight. Certain types of resistance bands also have handles attached. They are available in a range of different colours and sizes that determine their resistance strengths - something you need to know about before purchasing one to make sure you choose the right resistance band for your fitness level. We have covered resistance bands levels in more detail in our post Resistance Band Color Coding. There are eight main types of resistance bands, and five standard colours that indicate the level of resistance each band provides.
The main function of the resistance bands is to induce muscular contraction. As you pull against the band, this contracting motion builds strength in the muscles. You can use resistance bands for practically any type of upper or lower body strength training. Strength training is crucial to build muscle tone and bone strength, which will also improve your metabolism and hence help you lose weight if that is your fitness goal or make your body look toned.
They were originally invented as a rehabilitation technique for patients to recuperate their lost strength in their muscles and joints post-injury. They date back to 1990s, but only started gaining its popularity as a mainstream exercise equipment in recent years. What made them so popular is their adaptability, portability and many fitness benefits that they bring along. Resistance bands are suitable for everyone, regardless of fitness level. They are proving a really effective and popular addition to any exercise and they are super easy to use.
Types of Resistance Bands
There are eight main types of resistance bands. We have listed all of them below with a short overview of each.
Flat bands or Fit loop bands - the most common type of resistance bands. They are flat and looped and come in varying levels of resistance which is determined by their colour. Flat bands are ideal to strengthen the lower body, in particular legs, hips and buttocks.
Therapy bands - normally used for rehabilitation. They are much longer, thinner and tend to be gentler on the body. These are great for those trying to regain the strength post injury or elderly people doing their low impact workout.
Fit Tube Bands – these are 4 feet long, stretchy tubes that have handles. They were made to mimic weight lifting machines. They are great for chest presses, curls, back rows, shoulder presses and other exercises that involve pressing and pulling.
Mini Loop Bands - Mini loop bands resemble flat bands in their design, but they tend to be shorter and wider. The newer versions of mini loop bands come with a fabric covering for added comfort and to stop the band from rolling up. They can be used around legs and arms to build strength and stability.
Figure 8 bands - short tube, shaped with two soft handles that are connected by a tube in the middle, thus resembling a figure 8 shape. There are best for workout that involves pushing and pulling exercises in the lateral plane of motion.
Ring resistance bands - small ring with two handles. Ring resistance bands are best for working the upper and the lower body.
Lateral resistance bands – resistance band with velcro cuffs on each end, designed to fit the ankles. They help to train the lower body, mainly focusing on the hips and the thighs.
Pull up bands - flat shaped long bands that are designed to assist users in pull ups or add extra resistance to them.
Resistance Bands Color Coding
Resistance bands normally come in a set of different colours. These different colours signify the band’s resistance level. Resistance bands are available in light, medium and heavy resistances. As a general guidance, the darker the colour, the stronger the resistance. Depending on your fitness goal, you can change the intensity of the resistance band to make your workout a bit tougher, or you can use multiple bands at any one time to increase the challenge.
The majority of the manufacture brands use the same colour code scheme. However, there are some brands that have adapted their own colour scheme to differentiate from the market, or the ones that are specially designed for therapy. For the purpose of this article, we have summarised the standard resistance bands colour coding adhered by most brands, in the graph below.
If you are new to resistance bands and just started working out, we suggest using Red or Green as starter, and slowly increase the level as you progress with your fitness regime.
When to Use Resistance Bands?
The different size and resistance levels of these bands give a wide possibility of exercise variations which can target all muscle groups in the body. Resistance bands are great to mix up your workouts. Since when you do the same training routine all the time, your muscles become used to the unchanged exercises. Consequently, you will notice your results diminishing. This is why it’s important to change your workout routine to include an interesting and challenging combination of resistance bands, free weights and cardiovascular work. Making sure you mix things up each week, will ensure the results keep on coming.
Resistance bands can be used as an alternative or to complement resistance training which involve heavy weights. Since they are so easy to carry around and don’t take much space, they can be easily used at gym, home or anywhere outdoor really.
You can add resistance bands to squats and lunges for your legs workout, as well as chest presses, shoulder presses, bicep curls, triceps curls and rows. Resistance bands avoid the need to lift heavy weights, which can put an excessive strain on your joints. For that reason, they are actually more body-friendly. In fact, when free weights are required for a specific exercise, those can be easily replaced with resistance bands. Therefore, giving an advantage for resistance band due to its light and portable nature as compared to free weights!
Benefits of Resistance Bands
Resistance bands offer optimal full body workout, as well as they can target specific muscle group in both the upper and lower body. They will also help you improve your posture, boost your endurance and refine your flexibility and range of motion.
There are many physical benefits that the resistance bands provide, but there are also countless advantages to its physical size and appearance, making them so portable, which makes them a crucial piece of equipment for people who are on the go or constantly travelling.
Just to show you how powerful these exercise tools are, we have provided some main benefits that resistance bands provide in the list below. For full detailed explanation of each, check out our post on "18 AMAZING Benefits of Resistance Bands".
Resistance bands help to lose weight
They provide full-body workout
Resistance bands tone muscles
They help build endurance
They are great for stretching
They are practical tool in rehabilitation
Resistance bands prevent injury
They are affordable exercise tools
Resistance bands are easy to travel with
They can be combined with other exercise tools and gym equipment
They add variety to your workouts
You can easily track progression with resistance bands
Resistance bands are effective and powerful exercise tools that have replaced many of the traditional heavy gym equipment or other exercise tools like free weights. You can use them for almost any type of upper or lower body strength training, which is crucial to build muscle tone and bone strength. This is why resistance bands can help you achieve any fitness goal from regaining strength after injury to losing weight and developing more defined look. They are suitable for everyone, but you should always make sure to get the right resistance band for your fitness level. The benefits that resistance bands bring are incredible and there are plentiful. From adaptability, portability, affordability to weight loss, full body workout, versatility and so on. There is no excuse not to get one and start incorporating it into your regular fitness regime.