In this article, we’ll tell you everything you need to know about resistance bands! We’ll explain what exactly excercise bands are, what the differences between the various colors and shapes are, of or course, how you can use them to do the workout that’s right for you.
What are Excercise Bands anyway?
Resistance bands are elastic rubber bands, usually made from latex or natural rubber and are typically between 1 and 2.5 m long, with which you can do both pulling and holding exercises. They were originally used for physical therapy in particular, to target the regeneration of specific muscle regions. Furthermore, resistance bands served professional athletes especially, to stretch their muscles and complete the intensive endurance and muscle building sessions in the best possible way. In the meantime, however, amateur and recreational athletes have also realized that resistance bands offer immense advantages not just for the sick or for professional athletes: their application is versatile, and their natural movements are joint-friendly, making them very suitable for constant muscle building. These bands have become a workout tool for everyone. Basically, resistance bands work quite simply: by pulling, the resistance band gives way and reacts to a counter-pull, which in the long run has a positive effect on both the muscles and muscle growth. And just as a side note, this also trains your motor skills and sense of balance.
Resistance bands are therefore not only perfect for stretching and warming up before a strenuous strength training workout, but also for the completion of an entire training session. When properly executed, exercises with resistance bands are the ideal help to prevent injuries and build a solid core stability. And the best part about them: whether in a hotel room, stretched on the doorknob, or wrapped around a tree outside, once you have them, they can be used wherever and at any time, and they serve as a great tool for your own individual workout.
What are the different types of Excercise Bands?
For those who have decided to buy resistance bands and are now faced with the torture of choosing the right ones, you should consider a few things, because there are many different bands on the market, and you want to find what works best for you.
The best known among the resistance bands is the Theraband. Similar to the Tempo handkerchief, Thera is the manufacturer, though the name has transitioned into common language use, so that now, many excercise or resistance bands are also called Theraband. Therabands are, generally speaking, elastic rubber strips in lengths of 1 m to 50 m (to cut yourself). They’re usually made from latex, however, today there are also latex-free, which are also appropriate for people with allergies. Therabands are “the original” and are used nowadays for both physical therapy as well as gymnastics and recreational sports.
The so-called Deuser band is tubular in contrast to the open Theraband and was invented in the 60s by Erich Deuser. For a long time, it was an essential component of the German national soccer team’s training equipment. Today, it’s predominantly used in sport medicine, physio, and rehabilitation gymnastics. The Deuser band is available in various models and versions, which mainly differ in difficulty.
Along with both of the most popular variation, there are also several other exericse band models, including strip forms with many different types of handles on both ends, resistance bands like the rope-like tube bands, or tube and oval shaped bands like these loop bands for example.
Regardless of which shape you choose, when buying you should pay attention to two things in particular: for one, the lengths make a big difference in how you can train with the bands. A 1 m band, for example, opens up a completely different repertoire of exercises than a 2.5 m band! So make sure you pick out the right length for your exercises so that you won’t be disappointed. Just as decisive as the length of the band is its resistance strength: this can usually be identified by the width or thickness of the resistance band. The wider the band, the stronger its resistance.
As a side note, beginners should always, in principle, begin with the light-weight resistance bands, whereas people who are in better shape can start directly with the medium-weight bands. Due to the often quite low acquisition costs, most people tend to buy an entire set of different resistance bands, so that the right length and band strength is always available for every exercise. An example of a cheap set can be found here. If there’s not a travel bag for the bands in the set, you should think about, whether you need one of those too, just like there are different handles that you can buy and switch out on your bands as you like.
What are the Advantages and Disadvantages of the different bands?
At this point, we would like to explain the advantages and disadvantages of the most common different types of resistance bands.
The Exercise Band
This is generally one of the most common types of excercise bands. The advantage is that it often comes in long lengths, but you can easily wrap the band around your hand, so that the length fits your exercise perfectly. It’s cheap, available from many manufacturers, and suitable for almost all types of endurance and strength sports.
The Resistance/Pull-up Band:
Resistance bands or also pull-up bands like these here are especially tear-resistant and can therefore be used inside and outside. Due to their flexibility, they can be attached to doors, trees, or lamps. They’re available in different strengths, so that anyone can train with them, while also making it possible to steadily increase. Another trick: if a band is to light for you, you can simply double it, which also creates double the resistance. You can use resistance and pull-up bands for outdoor sports like calisthenics and Freeletics as well as indoors, as an addition to your home gym.
The Deuser band:
The Deuser band is a popular variation of the resistance and pull-up bands. It’s named after Erich Deuser, who was a famous German physical therapist, who among other things, managed the German national soccer team. Nowadays, the bands are available everywhere online, although sometimes costs are a little more due to the well-known manufacturer compared to those from lesser-known manufacturers. The Deuser band is versatile in use, for either yoga and Pilates, or for in and outdoor workouts.
The original. Versatile use for therapy and fitness. Therabands are available in all possible shapes and models, and with the brand, you’ll definitely also buy experience. The disadvantage: Depending on the manufacturer, the products here can also be somewhat more expensive than others of similar quality. The Theraband is very flexible and can easily be incorporated in any workout.
Loop Bands / Mini Bands
Loop bands, like these here, are tubular and available in different strengths. The sets are very inexpensive and deliver a whole bundle of new exercise opportunities. They’re easy to store and even come with a practical carrier bag. They’re also a perfect addition to aerobic and yoga, just like they are to cross fit and strength training.
Fabric Resistance Bands:
These loop bands are very similar, though made from fabric, clearly wider and stronger. They’re especially suited as stabilization for squats and many glute exercises.
Tube Bands with Handles:
Tube bands / resistance bands with handles are a little die exotic for resistance bands, instead of a wider rubberized fabric, most are thin and tubular with handles on each end. The handles allow you to use them in various ways and ideally just do strength building exercises with them. Tube bands are also a good addition to types of strength and strength endurance sports.
Resistance Band for Running:
This band is especially interesting for the runners among you. Hang the resistance band somewhere and run against the tension, which reacts with resistance and pulls you back again. Perfect for runners and people who want to optimize both the power and the speed of their running! Though the costs are more than traditional resistance bands.
Can I do Muscle Building with the Resistance Band?
Of course, every athlete asks themselves an important question: can I do muscle building with it? The answer is: yes, of course. Just like weights, bands provide a stimulus for your muscles by their resistance, which the muscles try to adjust to. This means: if the stimulus is strong enough, it will build your muscles. Only, what’s essential is that the stimulus that affects your muscles continually increases. Just like weight training, the resistance must be consistently increased. This can be done very easily, as long as you change from the lighter-weight bands to the heavier-weight bands.
Side note: if the heavy-weight resistance bands aren’t enough for you, you can simply combine them with lighter resistance bands. That way the strength of the bands also increases, and the muscle training can continue! Which Muscle Groups can I train with Resistance Bands?
Which Muscle Groups can I train with Resistance Bands?
You can essentially train each of your muscle groups with resistance bands. Most of the time, exercising with the bands is so strenuous, that you not only strengthen your muscles, but also burn fat. The bands are also very joint-friendly, depending on the movement, making it possible for exercises with it to even have a relaxing effect.
You can find loads of resistance band exercises on the internet that explain how you can train your arms and shoulders in particular, just like the exercises for the back. Chest and legs aren’t left out either: people usually simply combine resistance bands with other exercises, which make the execution more difficult. Some combine, for example, resistance bands with their body weight exercises, or simply go outside with it to the next tree or soccer goal. What’s most important, as is with any workout, is that you regularly exercise, continually increase, and track your progress. This is how you can ensure that your muscles don’t go stagnant during their development.
The principle of resistance bands is always the same regardless of the type of band: your pulling motion is followed by the resistance of the band, the greater the pulling force, the higher the resistance. If you continue to pull when it’s strenuous, but not overwhelming, and steadily increase with the strength of the band, you can effectively stimulate and encourage your muscles to grow with these stimuli.
How can I train with Excercise Bands?
The internet is full of exercises with resistance bands. We’ve collected a few basics here for you, from which you can further orient yourself. You can vary, combine, and change the exercises however you want. Just always pay attention to the correct execution so that your movement remains natural. This way, you can advantage the joint-friendly effect and won’t do yourself any additional harm with the bands. You can also check out our article on resistance band ab excercises.
Exercise No. 1: Lateral Lifts
Stand upright on the center of the band with both legs hip-width apart and grab both ends (ideally with the handles from the expander bands). Tense your stomach muscles and the lower back, and push yourself slightly into the hollow of your back. Then bring your arms upward to the sides until you reach shoulder height. Hold this position for a few seconds, then slowly let your arms back down.
Exercise No. 2: Lat Pull
Position yourself about shoulder width and hold the band with both hands, a little more than shoulder width holding it over your head. Your arms should be stretched out and your body in an X position. Tighten the band by pulling on it. Now pull your arms stretched behind your head until you reach neck height and hold it there for a moment. Then go back up into an X position. If the exercise with the band is too easy, double the band and repeat the exercise again.
Exercise No. 3: Rowing
A good full body exercise: Sit upright on the floor and stretch your feed out in front of you. Wrap the band around the front of your feet and grasp the ends of the band on each side of your body. Now pull the band toward your chest and bring your elbows to the sides of your body and past your back. Make sure you pull your shoulder blades together, when you’re in the back position. Loosen the band by stretching your arms out again. Then pull the band back toward you.
Exercise No. 4: Leg Extension
Get down on all fours, which is best on a soft surface. Wrap the band around your feet and hold both ends in front of you tightly with your hands. Looking forward, now stretch one leg backward, keeping your upper body straight, while forming a line with your leg. Stay there for a moment, then lower the back down into the all-fours position. When you’re ready, do the exercise again.
Exercise No. 5: Triceps Stretcher
Stand hip-width apart and go light on the knees. Your body should be upright and your shoulders be slightly backward. With one hand, hold the resistance band tight behind your back, the other hand will hold the band behind the back of your head. Then stretch your arm upwards until it’s tense, and you can feel the strain on your triceps. Slowly lower your upped band back down until you reach the level of the back of your head, then pull it back up again. If you’re done, don’t forget to change sides!
Exercise No. 6: Bicep Curls
The classic among the band exercises. Stand shoulder-width apart with your feet on the band, slightly bend your hands and keep them by the sides of your body and hold the respective end of the band at your hip level. Make sure you stand upright, and your back is slightly in the hollow of your back. Now bend your elbows until your arms are at about a 45 Grad to the sky, this is the “curl”. Bring your arms back down to the sides of your body and repeat the exercise according to your planned sets.
Exercise No. 8: Squats
Although this is a very effective leg exercise, you have to pay good attention to the execution. Stand hip-width apart on the middle of the resistance band. Grab onto the ends at your hip level and keep your arms slightly bent. Now go into a squat position: push your butt toward your ankles and make sure you have a stretched lower back. At the same time, bring your arms up with the ends of the band, as if you were holding up a sign. Hold it there for a moment, then go back into the initial position.
Excercise bands are suitable for every situation, whether it’s regeneration and stabilization of the muscles or specifically for building. You can do an infinite variety of exercises with them, but always make sure you’re doing the correct movements. Resistance bands are inexpensive, usually last a long time, and often replace expensive gym equipment (especially the cable band equipment!). For those who have a home gym or exercise outside, resistance bands are a very useful and affordable tool.
Video: 40 Best Exercises with Exercise Bands
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