Resistance bands are all the new crazy in bodybuilding, and for good reason. But the reason they work so well is confusing- so let me explain it for you. So, how do resistance bands work?
Resistance bands work in many different ways to grow your muscle. The most notable thing resistance bands do is provide ‘constant tension’- you see, when you use free weights there is a point where there is no muscle activation. This is usually at the beginning or end of the range of motion, meanwhile, with resistance bands, there is ALWAYS muscle activation throughout the whole range of motion and does not go away until the band is released. Plus, resistance bands provide an increased resistance demand as you stretch the bands further- which overloads your muscles massively.
Furthermore, resistance bands provide more resistance the more you pull on them, providing a dynamic increasing resistance as you complete the rep. Plus, they are a great tool at engaging muscles free weights normally don’t, and yes, resistance bands can build muscle! (Even if they aren’t as effective as normal weights)
But let’s cover this more in-depth, and actually talk about how do resistance bands work.
How Do Resistance Bands Work and Provide Constant Tension?
Resistance bands work most notably by providing constant tension on the muscle throughout the entire repitition, which is actually very different than free weights.
You see, when you use a free weight like a barbell or dumbbell, there’s a point where there isn’t any muscle tension anymore.
For instance, if you’re benching, when your bench reaches the top of the rep and is sitting in the air, your chest is basically not activated at all. This a point where your chest just isn’t being worked.
However, with resistance bands- there isn’t that point, there is a constant tension throughout the muscle the entire time.
This is a fantastic way to boost muscle growth, as it puts increased demand and makes your muscles work harder- which makes your muscles grow bigger!
Resistance Bands Target Muscles Free Weights Really Can’t
You see resistance bands being used mainly in places like yoga studios or even for things like physical therapy to target some of the harder muscles to reach with free weights.
When you bench press, the bench only goes so far.
Resistance bands have a much larger range of motion that can’t be matched with standard barbells. Because of this, it targets a ton of muscles your free weights can’t.
A notable example of this is the side of your chest, it can really only be targeted by something like a resistance band- which is why gyms have the pectoral fly machine.
There’s a GOOD Reason Resistance Bands are Used in Yoga, Physical Therapy, etcetera.
Resistance bands also have the ability to stretch and target muscles that normal free weights and barbells cannot target.
I’d find it hard to mount/wrap a barbell in between your knees and hips to successfully rehabilitate some of your hip flexors. There are many incredibly small ligaments/muscles that resistance bands can target that a big barbell or dumbbells simply by their nature cannot.
Resistance bands are stretchy, flexible, and are super easy to get into a tough spot that can help strengthen and rehabilitate critical muscles.
You Can’t Have a Big Physique With a Weak Foundation
You can’t have a big physique with a weak foundation. If you have problems with smaller muscles, tendons, ligaments, bones, or other things being weak- your bigger physique will not be able to grow.
It’s the same thing with a house. Sure, you can build it big and big- but then it will eventually come crashing down on the weak foundation. Your shoulder may pop, your pectoralis major may rip, etcetera.
These resistance bands are critical in getting around your body in weird spots, then strengthening those smaller muscles you’re having problems with.
Personally for me I use resistance bands all the time to strengthen my entire shoulder cuff.
Don’t really know what happened in the gene lottery pool, but my sister and I both have tears in our shoulder cuff and that results in serious weakness on things like overhead pressing and bench pressing.
I’ve been able to use resistance bands to strengthen the muscles successfully and work around this injury to get my entire body stronger. Using the resistance bands has provided a ton of strength and stability in that shoulder joint I never had before, allowing me to keep lifting even with the injury.
While it isn’t perfect, it certainly helps.
Resistance Bands Become Tougher The Further You Pull Them
The further you pull resistance bands, the tougher and stronger they become. This provides a very dynamic resistance while you complete the range of motion.
Every time that band stretches further, it becomes way harder to pull. This is radically different than free weights, and this dynamic resistance does wonders to your muscles.
Your muscles getting a huge overload stimulus at the top of the rep is incredible, if you really have to fight that rep and try hard to finish the contraction, your muscles will grow like crazy.
That increasing stimulus works your muscle like never before and allows you to basically lift more weight and expose your muscles to higher resistances. This opens up the pathway to your muscles growing exponentially by really testing both the fast and slow twitch fibers.
Conclusion of How Do Resistance Bands Work
Resistance bands can be incredibly confusing, especially since they are so new.
The main takeaways are this: they provide constant tension, extend the range of motion and workout muscles that free weights cannot, are able to be put in places dumbbells/barbells can’t reach normally, provide a dynamic increasing resistance path, and finally are an excellent and safe tool to do rehabilitation for the muscles with.
Wow, that was a mouthful. Needless to say, these things are pretty cool and you can get really creative with them. I’ve found a ton of relief for my shoulder pain with them, maybe you’ll find something they help you with too!