When people think of resistance bands, they usually think of rehab and a little light aerobics for the elderly. Nothing could be further from the truth. Resistance band bodybuilding is an excellent way to build muscle, especially if you can’t make it to the gym.
Studies show that resistance band bodybuilding is equally effective as using free weights, even in the more prominent compound movements such as the squat. If you’re looking to build muscle with resistance bands, then you’ve come to the right place.
Research also indicates that virtually all the benefits of resistance training are likely to be obtained in two 15- to 20-min training sessions a week. In the early 1900s, Eugene Sandow, the founding father of bodybuilding, sold a home device that used rubber resistance bands for strength training.
Let’s take a look at just how influential resistance bands can be for building muscle.
The Benefits of Resistance Band Bodybuilding
Studies suggest that there isn’t much difference between training with resistance bands and free weights. The body can’t tell the difference between the two!
Both provide resistance, which you can progressively increase, and both allow a free range of movement. There is little difference in how you can pack on muscle and burn fat between free weights and resistance bands.
The Muscle-Mind Connection
Every serious bodybuilder knows about the importance of the muscle-mind connection. The key to growing muscles is to create a direct link between your mind and the muscle you’re working on.
If you’re a beginner, you might already know how hard it can target a specific muscle. Focussing on just the pecs when you’re bench pressing is difficult. Well, resistance bands might be the secret weapon.
With resistance bands for bodybuilding, you’re not focussing on the heaviness of the weight or the nearness of failure. This makes it much easier to focus on the muscles that you’re working on. As the resistance increases towards the end of each rep, it forces you to squeeze that little bit extra.
This is a great way to build the muscle-mind connection. You can even use resistance bands as a warm-up for free-weight exercises to help target the muscles even better.
Time under tension is one of the fundamental formulas for building muscle. The longer you can keep a muscle under pressure, the more it has to work.
In most free-weight exercises, we lose tension at the top of the movement because we lock-out. The bench press and dumbbell bicep curl are just two examples. When using resistance bands, you keep tension on the muscle throughout the entire exercise.
Their Appearance Can be Misleading
A resistance band might look like a brightly colored flimsy piece of plastic tubing. It’s barely as pleasing to the ego as benching free weights. However, resistance bands can apply up to 150 pounds of resistance.
Now, imagine trying to do 50 pushups with 150 pounds on your back. Resistance bands are just as capable of stimulating muscle growth as using free-weights.
Planes of Movement
When you use free-weights, your struggle is against gravity. This limits the planes of movement. This can make them counterintuitive for those looking to train functional movement patterns.
Resistance bands open up the world of training on the horizontal plane, which is excellent news for athletes. If you’re a baseball player or golfer, resistance bands can help you better replicate the movements you need in your sport.
One study found that resistance bands help strengthen the rotator cuff in baseball pitchers more than free weights.
No More Cheating
As you progress in bodybuilding with free weights and things start to get heavy, it’s easy to start cheating. People begin to use momentum to help get the weights up. This might be a great way to squeeze out a few extra reps, but you’re no longer relying on the muscle’s strength.
When you use resistance bands, it is impossible to cheat the movement. When using resistance bands, it’s down to the targetted muscles alone.
One of the most significant advantages of using resistant bands is that they’re light, and you can use them anywhere. You can attach them to door handles, under chair legs, and even wraps them around yourself.
Resistance bands allow you to get a full-body workout with no additional equipment or gym required.
How to Use Resistance Bands for Bodybuilding
By now, you’re no doubt sold on the idea that resistance bands can help you build muscle too. Let’s look at specific exercises that will allow you to target each of the major muscles.
Working the back couldn’t be any easier than with resistance bands. Most commonly, you’ll see resistance bands used for assisted pull-ups, but you can use them for other major back exercises too.
The bent-over row is the staple of back exercises. It will improve your posture, strengthen your core and work the following muscles:
- Latissimus dorsi (lats)
- Erector spinae
- And even your biceps
To perform the bent-over row with a resistance band, start by standing in the middle of the band. Have your feet hip-width apart and grab onto each end of the loop.
Keeping a neutral spine, bend at the waist. Make sure that your head, neck, and upper spine are entirely straight. Then arch your lower back.
Keeping your elbows tucked in, pull the band towards your torso. Squeeze your shoulder blades together at the top of the movement.
To work your upper back, pull the band up towards your chest. To work your mid-lower back, pull the band up to your midsection.
The face pull is often crowned as king of posture exercises. It mainly targets the rear deltoids, rhomboids, and middle trapezius.
To do this, you’ll need to secure the band to something at waist height. Stand facing the band and hold it out in front of you.
Keeping your back straight and lifting your elbows, pull the band up towards your face. Squeeze your shoulder blades together and hold them in this final position.
To increase the resistance, start by standing further away.
Every bodybuilder wants wide lats, and the lat pulldown is a great first choice of exercise. You’ll need to be able to attach your resistance band to something above you. If that’s not possible, then you can kneel.
Hold the band out in front of you. Without bending your arms, pull the band down to your waist. Once you feel the contraction in your lats, hold that position, then raise your arms to the starting position.
The ‘pull apart’ mimics the rear-delt fly and is a great way to build your upper back. With this one, you don’t need to secure the band to anything.
Grab the band at each end and hold it in front of you. Keeping your arms straight, pull the resistance band apart as far as you can. Squeeze your shoulder blades together and hold this position before returning your arms in front of you.
When most bodybuilders think of building a bigger chest, they think of heavy barbell bench pressing. Resistance bands for bodybuilding can easily apply the amount of resistance you need to make a bigger chest. You need to know how to use them.
One of the most effective chest exercises is push-up. You can easily take it up a notch with a resistance band.
Put the resistance band around your upper back. Put your hand in each loop so that the band sits across the palm of your hand. Now perform push-ups like you usually would.
The great thing about using the resistance bands for push-ups is that the resistance increases at the top of the movement. This means that you’ll get a better contraction than you would with the bench press or regular push-up.
Resistance Band Fly
You’ll probably need two bands to do this, but it’s a significant variation of the dumbbell fly.
Attach two bands behind you at chest level. Grab the end of each band and move forwards, so you start to take tension. Keeping your arms locked with a slight at the elbow, bring your arms in front of you.
Hold once you feel the contraction as you squeeze your arms in front of you and then return. You should feel a stretch across your chest before you repeat the movement.
If you don’t have two matching resistance bands or nowhere to fix two bands at the same height, don’t panic. You can take the resistance band across your back like with the push-up.
It can be tricky keeping the band in place, but you should still perform the fly movement.
Shoulder exercises are easy with a resistance band. You won’t need to attach your band to anything to grow monster shoulders.
Start by standing inside the loop of your resistance band with your feet shoulder-width apart. The hold band at shoulder-width apart.
Bring the band up, so it’s level with your upper chest and keeps your elbows tucked in. Then drive upwards so that your arms lock out above your head. Return the band to your upper chest and repeat.
Stand inside the loop of your resistance band with feet at hip-width apart. Hold the other end of the resistance band shoulder-width apart with an overhand grip.
Keeping your arms straight, raise your arms so that they are at shoulder level. Hold the position here and then return your arms by your side.
If you need more resistance, you can try standing with a wider stance.
You’ll probably need to use a lighter band that you did for the frontal raise because you’re only going to be working one shoulder at a time.
To work the right shoulder, stand on the resistance band of your left foot. Hold the other end of the band in your right hand.
Using a controlled motion, bring your arm up to your side until it reaches shoulder height. Hold here and then return the band to your side.
To perform the lateral raise for your left shoulder, stand on the band with your right foot. Hold the band in your left hand.
Working the upper body with resistance bands is pretty straightforward. Most people start to doubt resistance band bodybuilding when they think about leg training. But you can use resistance bands for squats and deadlifts!
Resistance Band Squat
To perform a squat with a resistance band, stand inside the resistance band in your usual squat stance.
Hold the other end of the band at chest level with your palms facing upwards. Keep your upper spine neutral and your lower spine slightly arched.
Squat down so that your hamstrings are parallel to the floor. Then drive upwards through your heels until you’re standing upright.
Resistance Band Deadlift
The deadlift is commonly known as the king of the compound exercises. It’s great for target the glutes and hamstrings.
To perform a deadlift with a resistance band, start by looping each band’s end around your feet. Assume a wide stance like you would in a sumo deadlift.
Squat down and grab the middle of the band. Stick your bum out behind you and keep a slight arch in your lower back. Driving forward with your hips, pull the band up until you’re standing fully upright.
It’s important to keep looking straight ahead and not allowing your back to bend when performing this exercise.
That’s How to Workout Using Resistance Bands
Are you looking to build muscle without expensive gym memberships? Don’t have room for a house full of gym equipment? Well, then resistance band bodybuilding is for you.
By using these exercises, you can easily create your full-body workout. It will be just as beneficial as hitting the free weights in the gym.
If you’re looking to incorporate resistance band training with other training and great nutrition, then TFClark fitness magazines have plenty more articles for you.