Can You Build Muscle With Resistance Bands?

resistance bands build muscle

Resistance bands are highly convenient to store. They are also easy to travel with, affordable, and ideal for home fitness. Can you build muscle with resistance bands alone? 

Continue reading to discover more about muscle building with resistance bands and why your success depends on the details. 

What Are Resistance Bands?

resistance band

These are certainly not something new on the market. Resistance bands have existed for quite a while. They provide you with a portable opportunity to work out irrespective of where you are. That means you might be at home, at a hotel, or even while traveling.

Resistance bands are relatively basic devices. Essentially, they are elastic bands. The band is commonly used for a wide range of exercises. One of the best things about resistance bands is their versatility when it comes to the resistance offered. 

You can also set the difficulty level of the resistance training exercise that you perform. Most exercise bands generally come in different resistance levels ranging from light resistance to medium, heavy, and even some bands that provide extra heavy resistance. 

How Do You Build Muscle?

build muscle

If you’re looking to increase your lean muscle mass, you’ll need to overload that muscle. Doing this causes small tears within the muscle fiber, which stimulates the repair and eventual growth of new muscle tissue, called muscle hypertrophy. Lifting your body weight can also overload your muscles, and so does a resistance band. To get a more detailed explanation of how muscles grow, read our article about muscle growth.

Are resistance bands better than weights?

free weights

Resistance bands are not better than free weights for stimulating and building muscle mass. That being said, resistance bands effectively build muscle but not to the same extent as free weights. In some situations, bands can produce better results than weight machines.

If you are a beginner or an average weight lifter, a resistance band will offer enough tension to assist you in starting building muscle. Much like free weights, the primary objective when using a resistance band is to create muscle fatigue when it comes to the end of a set. And if your muscles don’t end up feeling fatigued, you’ll probably have to move up to a resistance band with more tension.

Because the advanced bands only deliver around 100 pounds of resistance, an advanced weight lifter will most likely reach a certain point when those bands are too easy. For such people, utilizing actual heavyweights might be the only method of continuing to make muscle gains.

Can you build muscle with resistance bands?

resistance band exercise

Research shows that resistance bands are just as effective at activating your quadriceps during the “up” or concentric phase of a knee extension workout as utilizing a weight machine is.

During the “down” phase or the eccentric movement of the workout, the weight machine resulted in more activation. However, the researchers still settled that resistance tubing was a feasible method for reaching the activity that could result in muscle hypertrophy.

Other researchers discovered that when resistance bands are combined with blood flow restriction training using tourniquets, the combination results in more significant muscle hypertrophy and increases in skeletal muscle size.[1][2]

To continue building muscle, you must ensure you are stressing the muscle enough to stimulate muscle damage and then repair and growth. To continue overloading the muscles, you have to move up to a resistance band with more tension as you adapt, and the current band tension or level is too easy. The same applies to free weights. Once lifting a particular weight becomes easy, you need to move up to a slightly more challenging weight.[3]

Resistance bands colour code

resistance bands colour code

In general, resistance bands are available in different levels of tension. That means you can progressively increase the tension amount you’re using. If you’re simply a beginner in strength training, you should use a designated band for beginners. And over time, your muscles will adapt to the extra load.

Most resistance bands come in different colors representing different resistance or weight levels. Unfortunately, there is no standard for which color represents resistance or weight level.

The most common weight or resistance levels are as follows:

  • 10lbs = 4.5kgs
  • 15lbs = 6.8kgs
  • 20lbs = 9.1kgs
  • 25lbs = 11.4kgs
  • 30lbs = 13.6kgs

To figure out what color corresponds with what resistance or weight level, you will have to read each manufacturer’s manual.

building muscle with resistance bands requires the correct technique

resistance band technique

Are you convinced that using a resistance band is suitable for you? You should check out the brand’s rating scale and choose a tension level that aligns with your specific fitness level. If you are still uncertain, go for the band with less tension.

For two days a week, do 3 to 4 workouts for the upper body and 3 to 4 for the lower body, performing one set of each to begin. Your upper body workouts can include triceps extensions, biceps curls, lat pulldowns, and chest presses. Lower body workouts can consist of hamstring curls, squats, adduction exercises, and leg abduction.

Because different brands come with different handles and straps, you should double-check the manufacturer’s user guide for info on the correct ways to use the resistance bands. Once you have been using them for several weeks, add a second and a third set after a few more weeks. Afterward, you should consider moving up to a more advanced-level resistance band or on to workouts involving weight machines, barbells, or dumbbells.

Reasons To Choose Resistance Bands

choose resistance bands

Why should you use a resistance band? The primary advantage that comes with resistance bands is the portability of such items. The elastic band you usually small if you fold it up. That means you can easily fit it into your traveling suitcase.

You also don’t have to go to the gym once you decide to use a resistance band. You could use this exercise device anywhere you are and at any time. You could even perform some resistance training during your lunch break – because you only need a few minutes for a session.

Another fantastic thing about these resistance bands is the wide range of exercises you can perform with such tools. You can target many muscle groups by utilizing only a single resistance band.

A resistance band is also perfect for working on smaller muscle groups within the body. These smaller ancillary muscles are often stabilizing muscles that help with balance and coordination. These muscle groups don’t often get worked well with traditional weight machines, and the instability of resistance bands might offer a new way to stimulate these muscles. This fact is something that other resistance training exercises cannot provide you.[4]

Additionally, you won’t have to learn about new workouts if you have a workout program. You can add resistance bands to most of the workouts that you are performing at the moment. They’ll add some resistance to that activity, which ultimately helps to enhance your benefits. For example, some people might use resistance bands attached to their squat or bench press bar for added resistance and difficulty.

Final Thoughts

Resistance bands can be an excellent way to build muscle only when balanced with appropriate recovery. It involves a high protein diet and lots of sleep. Your muscles need proper recovery, muscle adaptation, and progressive overload for your muscles to develop. All these can be achieved with resistance bands. And if you got large muscle mass, you could use a resistance band to maintain your mass.

Get one today and reap the benefits! 

For ideas on some chest exercise ideas using bands check out our article on top chest exercises with resistance bands