Fitness resistance bands were originally created for physical therapy, and to make strength training routines more accessible to everyone. Over the past year the pandemic has revolutionized the use of resistance bands as a beneficial tool in workout regiments.
The rubber band increases the strain or resistance of an exercise, making the muscles work harder and develop more strength to deal with the tension. A study conducted by the Department of Physical Therapy at Sahmyook University, in the Republic of Korea, proved that resistance band workouts improve “balance, mobility and gait function, flexibility and fall efficacy.”
Without access to in-person gyms, resistance bands proved to be useful. Quarantining led to at-home workouts, and resistance bands offered a little more challenge and versatility in exercises for muscle toning and strength building. They became popular because they are cheap, easy to use and progressible.
A recent study done by the Department of Pediatrics at the Sports Medicine Center of Augusta, Georgia, tested whether a 4-week resistance training program using Theraband elastic tubing would significantly increase strength and velocity of serve in a group of elite-level college tennis players.
Twenty-two male and female varsity college tennis players were randomly assigned to control or 4-week training groups. They did fitness routines with the resistance bands and then would test their muscles through tennis serves and movements. The study results showed the groups with the training improved their speed, control and torque from resistance bands.
Sophomore business major Stevie Daniels said she picked up resistance bands while following an at home workout video. She said “The band made the exercises more of a challenge and it was a great motivation to keep working out over quarantine when I couldn't push myself at the gym.”
Image Credit: Josie Jack for The Campus Trainer
Free weights, squat racks and cardio machines like treadmills and ellipticals are a large investment. They can cost hundreds of dollars and can be difficult to set up. A nicer set of resistance bands is about $25-30 dollars on Amazon. Thus, these can provide a more advanced workout to a larger demographic.
They are also easy for students in dorms who are new to working out or don’t have much time in their schedule. Sophomore, Neuroscience major Danielle Deutsch said that resistance bands were perfect for a quick burn in her busy pre-med schedule. “I would have my class then do a couple of full body exercises and then I would get back to work, the bands are so easy.”
Fitness band exercises are also easy to learn. The benefits can be seen when they’re used with common dynamic exercises such as squats, glute bridges, lateral leg raises, glute kick-backs, squat thrusters, and more. CEO Luke Hughs of Origym, a fitness course company, says “bands add resistance, toning the body at a faster rate.”
Dina Daniels is a TRX Fitness instructor who recommends adding the bands to all workouts as a warmup or for specific movements. Daniels said “the bands are all-purpose; I occasionally implement them into upper and lower body workouts, inner and outer thigh workouts and legs. But you can use them for just about anything.”
Now that gyms are open people have still been using the bands because they are portable. They're often used for stretching and movements that get the muscles warmed up for more heavy strength training. Sophomore computer science major and gym enthusiast Carter Lewis says he warms up with a resistance band before every workout.
Lewis said “I always have it to get my legs or arms moving before lifting weights; it helps prevent injuries by getting loose.”
Resistance bands also progress in difficulty level, and allow people to improve their form to get the most out of the movement. You can start with less resistance and increase to the next band resistance upon mastery. You also can switch between the levels in one workout for higher and lower levels of intensity within a set.