Tell me something: How is it that an oversized length of elastic — better known as a resistance band — can make your muscles stand at attention like no other? Seriously, resistance band training has been shown to be a “feasible alternative” to lifting weights when it comes to activating your muscles, according to recent research published in the Journal of Human Kinetics. The studies authors compared muscle activation during upper-body strength training exercises with dumbbells versus free weights and found the results to be very similar. They believe that the instability created by the bands is what causes muscle fibres to fire even more, in some cases, than with free weights.
What’s more: “Resistance bands are a simple and versatile tool to work your muscles,” says trainer Sarah Gawron, since they use constant tension to stimulate muscle growth, without putting strain on your joints the way heavy weights can. “They can improve flexibility, mobility, and strength.” It doesn’t even take that long to start seeing the difference. Five weeks of resistance band training was enough to significantly improve hamstring and inner thigh flexibility in subjects that participated in a new study published in the Journal of Sports Science & Medicine. Great news for your muscles if you’re self-isolating in a national lockdown and can’t go to the gym.
This is all great news for your muscles if you’re self-isolating in a national lockdown and can’t go to the gym. Unlike dumbbells and medicine balls, you can toss resistance bands in your cupboard, store them in a drawer in your living room — heck you can even keep them stashed in your pocket (you know, if you’re hardcore like that…). But, which ones are worth the purchase? Here the top recommendations for every resistance band that needs to be in your cart… like yesterday.
1/ Resistance Loop Exercise Bands
Best for: Beginners
“Loop bands can work for any person at any fitness level,” says trainer Anja Garcia, because each loop offers a different degree of resistance. And this brand, in particular, provides a carrying bag to hold them, a guidebook, and online workout videos.
While loop bands are great for working the lower body, Garcia says she’s all about using them to up the difficulty during upper-body moves. For an extra burn, loop them around your wrists during pushups and deadlifts.
2/ Resistance Tube Set
Best for: a total body workout
It’s basically a mini gym. It comes with a starter guide for beginners and door anchors for triceps extensions, biceps curls, and lat pulldowns. And the best part: “You can stack bands for added resistance, which means as you get stronger you don’t have to buy a whole new set.”
3/ All-Purpose Exercise Band
Best for: Upper body moves
These can be placed in a door frame or around a solid object, which is perfect for standing resistance training exercises.
4/ Fabric Band
Best for: Lower-body moves
This band is ideal for a warmup. It’s a “highly durable training tool” that’s perfect for activating the hip and glute muscles before any heavy lifting. Engage your muscles by pulling this loop onto your thighs and after a few hip thrusts they’ll be able to better handle the stress of the weights you turn to next.
5/ Resistance Band Set
Best for: Pilates and Barre workouts
“These are excellent for rehabilitation, improving functional daily activities, and enhancing athletic performance,” says trainer Sarah Gawron. She loves them because they’re an “effective alternative” to free weights like dumbbells and kettlebells.
6/ Power Bands
Best for: All types of workouts — they’re versatile
If you didn’t know how many widths and lengths resistance bands could come in, you will now. These versatile loops are ideal for bettering mobility and building strength, as well as upping your agility, plyometrics, and speed training games. The power bands are a durable piece of equipment that you can take anywhere.