What are Resistance Bands?

Jane Harmon

Resistance bands are used in strength training exercise. They are essentially giant rubber bands that you pull against to strengthen certain muscle groups.

Bicep curls may also be done with a resistance band to strengthen the bicep, as well as other muscles in the upper arm and elbow.
Bicep curls may also be done with a resistance band to strengthen the bicep, as well as other muscles in the upper arm and elbow.

Like weight training, resistance or strength training is designed to build up muscle mass. Weight training is a subcategory of resistance training in which the resistance is provided by gravity. The resistance offered by the bands is in the elasticity of the bands themselves. Resistance bands are much more convenient than typical weight-lifting gear, being lighter, more portable and composed of strips of rubber with plastic hand-holds for ease of use.

Resistance bands are used to help build muscle mass.
Resistance bands are used to help build muscle mass.

A typical use for resistance bands is to place the end of the band under your feet while standing, hold the other end in one or both hands, and pull up against the band. This is the equivalent of a bicep curl with hand weights. A band with handles on either end can be held by the feet while seated on the ground with legs outstretched. Taking a handle in either hand, you pull with both back and shoulder muscles to work the same muscle groups that a rowing machine would exercise.

Resistance bands are much more portable than other exercise equipment. You can take your bands traveling with you and exercise in your hotel room or even your office.

Resistance bands come in a range of resistance levels, from easy-to-stretch to progressively more difficult. If you're a beginning strength trainer, start at the lowest level of resistance and work your way to higher levels.

Resistance training is an important part of an exercise program; you should not rely on aerobic training alone. Resistance training, whether with weights or bands, builds muscle that can continue to burn calories while at rest. Seniors should not neglect resistance training as they grow older. Loss of muscle mass as you age is a primary cause of dangerous falls.

Relatively inexpensive and easy to use, resistance bands can form an important part of your fitness program.

Exercise bands stretch -- like giant rubber bands -- to provide resistance when used for working out.
Exercise bands stretch -- like giant rubber bands -- to provide resistance when used for working out.

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