Myths Around Resistance Bands  –  A Conclusive Guide

Here I have answered all possible myths surrounding resistance bands with facts, evidence and supporting visuals so that people like you are not misguided.

Over every social media platform, I have been seeing people asking several questions about the usefulness and reliability of resistance bands time and again.

So, I decided to compile the list of most common anxieties people have around resistance bands and provide them a conclusive guide for sharing with others like you.

Resistance bands are not the hype created just for publicity. Here is the growing market size in the United States of America from 2015 to 2025 quoted by Grand View Research –

us-resistance-bands-market

Source  – www.grandviewresearch.com

Here are the most common myths around resistance bands addressed as under –

INDEX –

Sr. No.  Most Common Myths
1 Resistance bands are only meant for rehabilitation purposes. We can’t build serious muscles

2

Resistance bands are more injury-prone than dumbbells, barbells and gym machines
3 It is way more difficult to track progress with resistance bands training due to variable resistance.
4 Resistance bands are not as effective as the free weights
5 Cable machines provide better strength training and safer than the resistance bands
6

Resistance Bands prove costly in the long run

7 The resistance bands keep decaying even when stored without any usageResistance Bands prove costly in the long run
8 Resistance bands are not meant for professional bodybuilders
9 Resistance bands can’t be repaired
10 One set of resistance bands is enough to provide the full-body workout
11 We can increase the resistance of the same elastic bands by shortening the length
12 More the length of resistance bands for same color code, higher resistance it will provide
13 Resistance bands are only meant for senior citizens and beginners.
14 Resistance bands underutilize the muscles during the initial phase of range of motion as the bands are not stretched enough
15 Resistance bands have a shorter shelf life
16 There are limited exercises possible with resistance bands
17 You can’t build muscles by using only resistance bands. Resistance bands shouldn’t be used daily

Jump where ever you are interested, however, I recommend you to go through all the myths for some crucial insights.

Let us start…


Resistance bands are only meant for rehabilitation purposes. We can’t build serious muscles.

NOT TRUE

A pair of resistance bands are often seen hanging alongside the dumbbell racks inside the gyms. The big guys are seen doing initial warm up with those exercise bands while some other members are seen doing stability exercises with them.

Such resistance bands are in fact meant for rehabilitation purposes only as we pay hefty membership fees for bulky machines with cushioned seats but not for resistance bands.

In reality, there are numerous types of resistance bands to meet the demands for kids, adults, elders, athletes and even bodybuilders. The main issue is that you aren’t equipped with the right kind of resistance bands for training and skills to utilize them.

For instance, there are power loop resistance bands having length of 41 inches and a thickness of more than than one inch.

They can provide resistance of more than 250 pounds which can be enough to meet the demands of athletes and novice fitness enthusiasts

Check this in-depth article –  Types of resistance bands and their uses to understand the potential of resistance bands market.

 


➤ Resistance bands are more injury-prone than dumbbells, barbells and gym machines

TRUE

You may be surprised by the answer. In fact, there are several instances in the past when resistance bands snapped right in the middle of the exercises causing serious eye injuries.

It mostly happens due to inferior quality rubber, poor maintenance and overstretching of exercise bands.

However, adherence to safety norms and standard guidelines can bring such risks to a bare minimum.

Here are some of the key points to keep in mind while using resistance bands

  1. Never stretch resistance bands more than 2.5 times the resting length. Check this article – how far resistance bands can be stretched for more insights.
  2. Never try to repair resistance bands once you observe any sign of damage. Check this article – how can resistance bands be repaired to understand the pro and cons of repairing the resistance bands.
  3. Always keep your face away from the plane of motion of resistance bands.
  4. Always wear protective glasses during resistance band exercises.
  5. Never shorten resistance band in a bid to get higher resistance from the existing workout bands.

There are a lot of other safety concerns you need to take care which is covered in this detailed article  – Are resistance bands safe? 


➤ It is way more difficult to track progress with resistance bands training due to variable resistance.

TRUE

Resistance bands don’t have fixed resistance. The resistance values mentioned on resistance bands are always the maximum resistance they offer when elongated X times the resting length where variable X varies from one manufacturer to another.

So, it is extremely difficult to track the resistance you trained earlier as you can do by counting the plates inside the gym.

However, every reputed company provides the elongation chart where resistance at different elongation levels is mentioned.

You may keep the track of the elongation levels for each exercise you perform with resistance bands and match with corresponding values of resistance in the elongation chart.

Check the elongation chart provided by Theraband for its resistance bands quoted on Pro Health Care Products

Alternatively, you can make use of handheld weighing calipers for measuring resistance during any exercise for more accurate results.

Check here for one such weighing scale from Etekcity on Amazon.com

The progress of workouts on your body may also be tracked by keeping an eye on the colors as you switch to harder resistance bands.


➤ Resistance bands are not as effective as the free weights

NOT TRUE

There are several studies already done by several big research institutions that have concluded the effectiveness of resistance bands in comparison to the free weights.

As per the recent study by NCBI (National Centre For Biotechnology Information) on the Effects of 24 weeks of Resistance Training with Simultaneous Elastic and Free Weight Loading on Muscular Performance of Novice Lifters

Following was the concluding part

“At present, the increasing body of literature suggests that for both novice and experienced individuals, Elastic Bands exercise can provide benefits in strength and power at least in equivalence to that of Free Weights alone.

Further, the above study also found as under

“Furthermore, this study found no group differences between Free and Elastic Bands resistance training benefits after 24 weeks of periodized training suggesting that elastic Band is a suitable alternative to traditional methods in novice, recreationally active collegiate males and females respectively.”

Here are the key benefits resistance bands provides as compared to free weights

  • The resistance curve of Resistance bands matches the strength curve of muscles. That means, when muscles are weakest during the range of motion of the exercise, the resistance provided by bands is also lowest.
  • Free weights work only in vertical planes due to gravity whereas resistance bands provide infinite planes of movements.
  • Resistance bands provide functional strength by adapting to the sport-specific movements.
  • You can’t cheat with resistance bands as you can cheat with free weights by increasing the momentum of exercise.

There are several other benefits resistance bands offer which are covered in this article  – resistance bands vs free weights – Ultimate Visual Guide with some exclusive tips to help you perform resistance training more efficiently.


➤ Cable machines provide better strength training and safer than the resistance bands.

FALSE

Cable machines transform the gravitational force of iron plates acting in the downward direction into the directional force independent of gravity so that you can perform exercises from any angle. As a result, cable machines are quite similar to resistance bands.

However, resistance bands provide variable resistance during stretching of bands whereas cable machines provide a fixed value of resistance during the entire range of motion.

The variable resistance actually helps muscles overcome the moments when they are the weakest during the range of motion in exercises such as biceps curl, triceps curl, squats, and several other exercises.

>>Various researches have time and again proved the benefits of variable resistance over the fixed resistance. 

Further, cable machines occupy much more space. Cable machines are too costly to be used for home gym workouts.


➤ Resistance Bands prove costly in the long run

NOT TRUE

People often do the cost-benefit analysis of resistance bands by highlighting the lower shelf life of workout bands.

However, it is worth mentioning that only two or three types of resistance bands with relevant accessories packed inside a cotton bag are more than enough to replace all the gym exercises of dumbells, barbells, cable machines, and other bulky machines used for legs, chest, back and abs.

In addition, resistance bands save you a huge space and also save you from heft gym memberships.


➤ The resistance bands keep decaying even when stored without any usage

TRUE

Several buyers have reported the deterioration of resistance bands even though they were not used for a long time.

After all, resistance bands are made from natural latex rubber in most of the cases except where TPE (thermoplastic elastomer) is used for people prone to latex allergy. The natural rubber tends to decay with time even when stored properly.

? Pro-Tip –

It is advised to purchase only those resistance bands that you will need to use immediately.

The lubrication of resistance bands with appropriate agents can definitely improve the life of resistance bands in cases where they need to be stored for an extended period of time.

Read this informative knowledge base  – how to lubricate resistance bands.


➤ Resistance bands are not meant for professional bodybuilders

TRUE

Practically, you can’t achieve the kind of muscle activation professional bodybuilders needs.

However, there is strong evidence of noticeable benefits when resistance bands are combined with barbells and dumbbells during a chest press, overhead press, squats, and several other exercises for bodybuilders.

The variable resistance of workout bands along with fixed resistance provides the best of both worlds.


Resistance bands can’t be repaired

TRUE and FALSE

Actually, it depends upon the kind of damage caused to the resistance bands.

If the damage has been caused to the ball joint where ends of resistance tubing are hooked into the handles, then such damages can be repaired using DIY methods right within your home.

However, if the rubber tubing itself has developed cracks and becomes sticky as shown below

then there is no way to restore resistance bands to the original state.

? Pro-Tip

Always replace the resistance bands as soon as you observe damage to the rubber tubing. Check this must-read article – how can resistance bands be repaired for more insights.

The proper lubrication of resistance bands can increase their shelf life.


➤ One set of resistance bands is enough to provide the full-body workout

Often people misunderstand the versatility of resistance bands. Resistance bands are truly versatile and target multiple muscle groups. However, not all exercises can be performed smoothly with any given set of resistance bands.

Take an example of mini loop resistance bands, these workout loop bands are perfectly suitable for leg adduction, abduction, lunges and squats. However, you can’t perform biceps, triceps, overhead press with a mini loop band.

Similarly, tube resistance bands which come in the form of the kit are exceptionally versatile for full-body exercises. However, it still lacks where mini loop bands shine like a diamond.


➤ We can increase the resistance of the same elastic bands by shortening the length

NO TRUE

As people get stronger with regular resistance training, they don’t get enough stimulation from the existing set of exercise bands.

So, it is often seen that the people shorten the length of resistance bands to get higher resistance.

However,  they forget to notice that resistance bands can’t be stretched infinitely.

Here is the survey we conducted among the popular brands for permissible stretching limits

Sr. No. Brand Name Stretchability Limits
1. Thera Bands 4 times the resting length
2. Bodylastic 3 times the resting length
3. Rubberbanditz 2.5 times the resting length
4. Quantum 3 times the resting length

NoteThe above values of stretching limits for above brands are for specific products and may vary with time

As per the survey, the stretchable limits of resistance bands from the above brands vary between 2.5 times to 3 times the original length in general.

So, it is always advised to switch over to the next resistance level band instead of shortening the existing bands.


➤ More the length of resistance bands for same color code, higher resistance it will provide

NOT TRUE

Whether you use a yellow color resistance band of 2 feet or 3 feet. It won’t make any difference in the resistance when both of them are stretched equally w.r.t their resting length.

The only advantage of an extended length of resistance tube band is that it may help you perform certain exercises such as overhead shoulder press in standing position, front shoulder raise, etc which are otherwise not possible to perform with resistance bands of relatively shorter length.

 ? Pro-Tip

The factor that matters the most while purchasing resistance bands, is the amount of force produced w.r.t percentage elongation of bands. Higher the thickness of the exercise band higher is the effort required to stretch the bands. So, thick bands always offer higher resistance.


➤ Resistance bands are only meant for senior citizens and beginners

NOT TRUE

Don’t take soft looks of resistance bands for granted.  Resistance bands have way more potential than you may imagine.

Here is the recent news published by Hindustan Times that quoted the top world athletes who use resistance bands in their workouts.

Here are few lines quoted in the news …

“Ever wondered what is the common denominator in the workout regimes of Serbian tennis player Novak Djokovic, distance runner Mo Farah, and our very own cricketers Shikhar Dhawan, Virat Kohli, and Hardik Pandya? Resistance band-based workouts is the answer.”

As said earlier resistance bands are way more flexible and creative to use than the dumbells and barbells.

Just explore the possibilities.


➤ Resistance bands underutilize the muscles during the initial phase of range of motion as the bands are not stretched enough.

NOT TRUE

It is true that resistance bands are least stretched during the initial phase of the range of motion of the exercise.

However, in exercises such as the concentric phase of a biceps curl,  lower initial resistance provided by the bands actually assists the bicep muscles to recover from the sticking point as can be seen in the picture below

In simple words,  the muscles we recruit during exercises don’t behave constantly during the range of motion.

They are the weakest at some points as compared to some other points during the range of motion of an exercise. Resistance bands provide matching variable resistance and prevent injuries.


➤ Resistance bands have a shorter shelf life

TRUE

Resistance bands are made out of natural rubber latex in 95% of the cases.  The natural rubber is bound to decay with time.  You can’t expect the resistance bands to stay for decades.

On average, the shelf life of resistance bands is 2 to 3 years whereas well-built dumbells and barbells can be used for decades together.

Some people have reported resistance bands to last only up to 6 months or so. There are several other factors affecting the life of resistance bands such as storage, handling, etc.

If you want to improve the shelf life of your resistance bands,  read these important tips – best ways to store resistance bands

However, the benefits of resistance bands in terms of variability of exercises and practicality generally outweigh their shorter shelf life.


➤ There are limited exercises possible with resistance bands

NOT TRUE

Resistance bands are the extremely flexible piece of rubber which can be molded into any shape to recreate exercises in numerous ways.  Only the right kind of tools and accessories are required.

You can’t expect to perform each and every exercise under the roof like bridges, sidewalk,  leg curl,  leg extension,  triceps with a single pair of power loop resistance bands.

In a similar way, mini loop bands are only good for a few lower body exercises.

? Pro-Tip

The best recipe is to make use of two or three types of resistance bands with a door anchor and ankle cuff attachments.  Buy a set of power loop bands along with mini loop bands and resistance tube bands kit to bring the best out of the resistance bands workouts. 

Here is an important guide we build to let you make the right decision – how to choose resistance bands – Visual Guide


➤ You can’t build muscles by using only resistance bands. Resistance bands shouldn’t be used daily

NOT TRUE

I have often seen people asking about how often they should train with resistance bands on a weekly basis.

My answer is that train as you would have done with machines and free weights inside the gym.

Muscle doesn’t have their own eyes to see you doing exercise with resistance bands and punish you for using them. The source of tension doesn’t matter as long as progressive tension is provided to the muscles.

Maintaining discipline and following a healthy diet is all you need.

Here are some people who build muscle mass using resistance bands alone as quoted by Kbands – Before and after resistance bands training


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