Do Resistance Bands ACTUALLY Work?

Physical activity is one of the most effective ways to stay healthy, support your immune system and mental health, and improve sleep quality. 

The US Department of Health(opens in new tab) recommends that adults perform “150 minutes to 300 minutes a week of moderate-intensity or 75 minutes to 150 minutes a week of vigorous-intensity aerobic physical activity”. These moderate-intensity recommendations cover activities such as walking, swimming, and performing yard work, and vigorous-intensity activities include jogging, jumping rope, and High-Intensity Interval Training (HIIT). The USDA also recommends performing “muscle-strengthening activities of moderate or greater intensity and that involve all major muscle groups on 2 or more days a week”, which can include lifting weights, doing bodyweight workouts such as pull-ups, push-ups, and planks, or working out with resistance bands.Resistance bands are often recommended as a convenient, inexpensive, and versatile option to perform resistance training and mix up aerobic exercise. But what exactly are resistance bands, and do resistance bands work? Resistance bands are elastic strips of rubber that are used to provide resistance to the body when exercising. They come in long and short loops (like big elastic bands) and also as single strips, and each kind has a distinct use. 

Strength is simply the ability to lift or move something very heavy. Resistance training, in general, improves your strength by exposing your muscles, joints and bones to gradually increasing levels of resistance. As such, the various tissues in your body respond to this by getting stronger and more resilient. 

A study from the European journal of Translational Myology showed that resistance bands do work effectively for building muscle.

Resistance bands accommodate this increasing resistance in two different ways. Firstly, a band can provide greater resistance by being stretched more, just like an elastic band would. Secondly, resistance bands come in a variety of resistance levels, spanning from 10lb all the way up to 200lb — the ‘heavier’ bands will be harder to stretch, working your muscles harder. Resistance bands can certainly help you build muscle. Not only can they provide adequate resistance during exercises, but they can also provide progressively more resistance over time to regularly challenge the muscles. A 2019 study from the European journal of Translational Myology(opens in new tab) was able to show that resistance bands do work effectively for building muscle.Resistance training will build muscle, which increases the number of calories your body burns throughout the day, even when you’re resting. Exercise will also push the food you eat more towards fueling and recovering your muscles, rather than being stored as fat, a concept called nutrient partitioning. 

Resistance bands are often used in injury rehabilitation because of their variable load. When first beginning a rehabilitation program, the given muscle or joint may be weak. Using resistance bands can help strengthen the muscle or joint.

That said, if you are nursing an injury, we would always recommend checking with a doctor before embarking on a new training program.