Buying the resistance bands for training is even less than the first step. Until you don’t understand the basics of exercises and how different exercises need to be integrated into a workout session, results are far from achievable.
The resistance bands further add to the woes of the people with their dynamic resistance. Though free weights and resistance bands perform similarly, they differ substantially in the on-field training.
Here I am going to explain the top mistakes people make while doing resistance bands training. Check if you are doing the same, eliminate them from training, and prevent injuries proactively.
So, what are the top mistakes that we make while doing resistance bands training?
Here are some of the common mistakes that people make –
- Choosing the wrong size resistance bands.
- Doing exercises with an incomplete range of motion.
- Focussing on the concentric contraction phase only.
- Stretching the resistance bands beyond permissible limits.
- Performing pulling exercises with resistance bands.
- Switching to resistance bands way too early.
- Slacking of resistance bands during the initial phase of the range of motion.
- Ignoring compound exercises.
- Not challenging the muscles (progressive training)
- Never trying barbell exercises with resistance bands
- Focusing too much on strength training
- Missing the opportunity of combining resistance bands with free weights
- Giving a toss for safety during resistance bands exercises
Results shall start to come as soon as you realize the logic behind our recommendations.
❝ Hi, I am Ravi, your companion and a passionate fitness athlete, cyclist, runner, gym enthusiast who just loves the concept of resistance bands for their extreme flexibility. I have been using resistance bands as one of my primary fitness equipment for the last many years ❞
Here are the top mistakes the beginners make while doing workouts with the resistance bands –
I have arranged the mistakes during resistance bands training in ascending order. That means the more gross mistakes are covered in the later section of this article.
Choosing the wrong size resistance band –
At first sight, this mistake looks apparent that you may simply skip this point altogether. I bet if you are amongst the one who is rather new to resistance bands, you will regret not reading it.
People often choose the resistance bands on a higher resistance side and end up with injuries of ligaments and joints.
Such mistakes often happen at the gym, where the people pick a resistance band and start stretching it for a while to judge its resistance. Quickly, they conclude that the resistance band is way too light.
👍 MY RECOMMENDATION –
Never judge resistance bands by their initial resistance during stretching. The resistance value mentioned over the resistance bands or the packaging always refers to the maximum resistance it can offer when stretched to maximum allowable length.
So we can’t judge the potential of resistance bands by stretching it slightly.
➤ Before choosing resistance bands for workouts routines, always make one complete repetition of a given exercise with a full range of motion and judge the difficulty level in executing the same.
Doing exercises with an incomplete range of motion-
The above mistake is the aftereffect of choosing an oversized resistance band. When we choose a relatively tight resistance band, the later phase of the range of motion in the concentric contraction (during upward movement in the biceps curl) becomes harder to finish due to higher resistance offered by the band.
As a result of an incomplete range of motion, the targeted muscles are not fully contracted leaving the muscles underutilized and imbalanced.
👍 MY RECOMMENDATION –
An incomplete range of motion usually happens when the external force applied by the bands/dumbbells exceeds the power developed by the muscles.
It is the typical case where amateur athletes try to lift heavier weights than they are capable of lifting by avoiding the harder phase of the range of motion.
As such, always choose lower resistance level bands than you suppose, especially if it is your first encounter with resistance bands to be on the safer side.
➤ It is more important to learn to stick to the form rather than focusing on results right from the start during resistance training.
Focussing on the concentric contraction phase only-
Many people are unaware of the pro and cons associated with concentric and eccentric phases of the exercises.
For newbies, the concentric phase refers to the lifting phase of the exercises where the targeted muscles are shortened against the external resistance provided by the resistance bands.
The eccentric phase, in contrast, refers to the lowering stage of the exercises where targeted muscles need to apply the brake to prevent the lengthening of muscles in the direction of the external force.
Most people focus on performing the concentric phase with good acceleration while executing the eccentric phase of the exercise with a jerk. Such sudden deacceleration of muscles during the eccentric phase puts much higher stress over the engaged joints and muscles than they can tolerate.
👍 MY RECOMMENDATION –
Fast eccentric deacceleration is more prominent with resistance bands than weights. It happens because, during the start of the eccentric phase, when the resistance band is already stretched to the maximum, the pulling torque exerted by the bands is much higher than the lengthening muscle.
As such, the arms during the lowering portion of the chest press are deaccelerated at a fast pace towards the chest.
To avoid fast deacceleration during the eccentric phase, focus more on an engaged primary muscle group, and release the contraction built up during the concentric phase in a slower manner.
It is like a car rolling down the hill where we have to apply brakes to keep the momentum under control.
➤ Faster concentric phase and a slower eccentric phase is what we should aim for.
📑 Here is an essential resource you can refer to for the detailed comparison between the concentric and eccentric phases of the exercises from oldschoollabs.com – Eccentric and Concentric Training: Which is better?
Stretching the resistance bands beyond permissible limits –
Stretching resistance bands beyond permissible limits won’t have a direct impact on the results of resistance training. However, it may jeopardize your safety and halt your progress.
Overstretching the bands means an increased possibility of snapping of bands unpredictably. The resistance bands are surprisingly categorized in a high-risk zone in comparison to their super cute looks.
If we carefully analyze the resistance bands exercises, the face is the most common and delicate body parts, which may fall prey to the hard-hitting snapped resistance bands.
👍 MY RECOMMENDATION –
There are two reasons the resistance bands are subjected to the overstretching. The first primary reason for overstretching is intentional; you heard it right! People do it to get higher resistance than an existing band is capable of offering. This is typically done to avoid purchasing higher resistance bands.
➤ The easy solution to this problem is using multiple resistance bands in parallel to get higher combined resistance.
Another reason behind overstretching bands is to achieve the desired range of motion. You may say, there is nothing wrong with working out with a complete range of motion! I Do Agree.
Take an example of overhead shoulder press in a standing position where a 6 feet 5 inches tall guy is stretching the resistance band over the shoulders while pressing the band at the mid-length with both feet.
Here, he intends to extend the arms in a topmost position fully. However, he is unknowingly stretching the resistance bands beyond the permissible limits.
The alternative solution to the above case is to do the overhead shoulder press in a seated position while pressing the loop band under the shin bone.
📑 Here is a relevant article I made about the overstretching – How far resistance bands can be stretched – Our research
Performing pulling exercises with resistance bands-
What do you mean by the pulling exercises, and what’s wrong with using a resistance band for pulling exercises? VALID QUESTION…
The pulling exercises refer to those workouts where we draw the weights towards the body part being targeted. The examples of such exercises are rowing, bent-over row, lat pull down, etc.
The resistance bands have a resistance curve, which is a function of the extent of stretching. The more we stretch the band, the more resistance it offers. Further, there is a strength curve of engaged muscles during any exercise which can be ascending or descending in nature.
In the case of pulling exercises (e.g., seated rowing), the strength curve is descending in nature. That means, as we stretch the band towards the body during lat pulldown exercise, the strength of involved back muscles decreases.
It is the reason we find it challenging to perform the lateral part of the exercise when both hands are near the waist. It means that we need to reduce the resistance during the final phase of the contraction of back muscles.
In contrast, the resistance bands provide higher resistance to weak back muscles during the final stages of pulling.
In short, we can say that the resistance curve of resistance bands is the opposite of the muscles’ strength curve in case of pulling exercises.
In the case of pushing exercises such as chest press, shoulder press, squats, etc., the strength curve of the engaged body part exactly matches the resistance curve of the resistance band.
Therefore, it is always recommended to prefer pushing exercises with resistance bands.
👍 MY RECOMMENDATION –
Folks having only resistance bands for resistance training must be scratching their head. Don’t worry!
While pushing exercises, such as leg press, leg extension, etc., are perfectly okay for resistance bands training, it does not mean that the pulling workouts should be avoided altogether.
➤ The only precautions that need to be taken while doing pulling exercises with resistance bands are to use relatively lower resistance than you would typically use while doing the same exercises with dumbbells or barbells.
In that way, we can avoid overtraining muscles at the angle where they need to be relieved of the stress.
📑 If you are still unclear about the resistance and strength curves, I recommend visiting this resource I made on banded squats where a more in-depth explanation has been given – Benefits Of Band-Assisted Push-Ups vs Ordinary Push-ups | Bench Press
Switching to resistance bands way too early –
If you are starting your first fitness classes with resistance bands, this point shall not be relevant to you. However, you already had been doing or used to do strength workout with fixed weights such as dumbbells, barbells, kettlebells, etc.; switching entirely to the resistance bands is undoubtedly a gross mistake.
The resistance bands behave far differently from the fixed weights. The major difference between the resistance bands and the fixed weights is in the variable resistance of bands. There are many other significant differences you may not know.
📑 I have covered all the technical and non-technical differences between the two in this fantastic resource; we made – Resistance Bands Vs Free Weights | Ultimate Visual Guide
Here are some of the changes/ difficulties you may face when we switch from free weights to the resistance bands.
- Inability to find the resistance bands with average resistance equivalent to the dumbbells and barbells you have been practicing with.
- Often ending up with higher resistance level bands and inviting injuries.
- The ending phase of contraction (where targeted muscles shortens) and the starting phase of the eccentric phase are harder to perform with resistance bands.
- It is difficult for beginners to maintain stability during resistance bands training. People often feel their body parts vibrating, which is executing the resistance band exercises.
- It is difficult to monitor progress with the resistance bands due to their variable resistance.
As such, take resistance bands training a bit more seriously and strategically plan the entry of the resistance bands.
👍 MY RECOMMENDATION –
Due to the above differences, it is advised to begin doing one workout session per week with resistance bands while performing other sessions with fixed weights. After that, increase the frequency of resistance bands sessions as you start feeling comfortable with resistance bands.
Alternatively, you can start with a few sets of exercises with resistance bands during each workout session and slowly increase the proportion of the resistance band exercises during each session.
Slacking of resistance band during the initial phase of the range of motion –
Slacking of the resistance band refers to the losing tightness in the band when it is just about to stretch. Though, the resistance bands offer zero resistance when they are at original length during the starting phase of the exercises.
Such slacking of bands during initial phases causes imbalances where muscles remain weak at some angles while they get more robust at some other angles.
👍 MY RECOMMENDATION –
➤ It is always a good idea to position the band so that tension is maintained on the primary muscles during the entire range of motion.
More you are away from the anchor point of resistance bands; the more is the tightness in the band during the initial phase. In turn, it makes it harder to execute the final phases.
In that way, it is also another way to increase the intensity of resistance bands exercises. However, make sure that you are not overstretching resistance bands.
Ignoring compound exercises –
It is the most critical mistake, which is not only limited to training with resistance bands. The compound exercises refer to the workouts such as squats, deadlifts, planks, push-ups where more than one joints are involved.
As such, the brain needs to fire a higher number of muscle fibers and engage more significant stabilizing muscles to improve coordination between all joints.
People usually find these compound exercises challenging to perform as the multiple points of the body are stressed out. As a result, most beginners find an easy way to gain muscle mass by focusing on isolated muscle groups such as biceps curl, leg extension, leg curl, etc.
The isolated exercises train single muscle groups while ignoring adjoining muscles, which creates an unbalanced physique. The physiques built with isolated exercises are not practical, and injuries may soon be a reality.
👍 MY RECOMMENDATION –
➤ I always include at least two to three compound exercises during each workout session. If possible, do include single leg and single arm movements in compound exercises, which accelerates the growth of inner muscles.
Due care needs to be taken while adding instability through single-leg movements as such movements are challenging to perform. Only advanced athletes should practice them.
📑 Here is a valuable resource you may refer to – Compound vs. isolated exercises: Pro and Cons from verywellfit.com.
Not challenging the muscles (progressive training) –
It is usually seen that people buy a set of resistance bands, and they assume them to be enough for their training needs for the next 2 to 3 years. When people do not find concrete results after two years of sweating, they give up blaming their genetics.
👍 MY RECOMMENDATION –
Any workout regime can be broadly divided into two phases, growing/bulking stage and a maintenance stage.
During the bulking phase, repetitions are settled between 5 to 8 for each set, and the focus is on progressively overloading the muscles.
During the maintenance phase, repetitions are between 8 to 12 without a focus on gaining muscle mass.
📑 If you are looking for getting muscular, the progressive resistance is of utmost importance. I would suggest you visit this article I made explaining the recommended frequency and intensity of working out with resistance bands – How Often Should I Work Out With Resistance Band – How To Decide
➤ It is often forgotten that the muscles need some reason to grow. If you keep resisting muscles with the same resistance repeatedly, why would they get stronger?
A resistance band kit of two to three colors may be enough for one year, but eventually, you may have to buy thicker bands even though the existing bands set is in good shape.
Never trying barbell exercises with resistance bands –
The resistance bands are somewhat like the dumbbells. Both are free weights and managed individually with each hand during workouts. However, there are some limitations with dumbbells and resistance bands that can be overcome using barbells.
If you do not adopt barbell workouts with resistance bands, you will not be able to lift enough. The stagnation in lifting weights can halt your progress.
👍 MY RECOMMENDATION-
If you are working out for many years and using heavier bands for training, barbells are mandatory to take your progress to another level. That’s why barbells are used so often by professional bodybuilders and pro athletes.
When we use barbells for resistance bands training, we make use of 20 percent fewer stabilizing muscles than dumbbells. That means, doing barbells biceps curl, squats, deadlifts are comparatively easier to perform.
➤ As such, it is always possible to lift heavier weights with barbells than dumbbells. As progression is the key for any strength training, barbells make it easier to do it, especially when you are in the advanced stage of strength training.
👉 Pro-Tip –
If you are a beginner, I suggest you go for resistance bands and dumbbells as they help you in working on the stabilizing muscles. As you enter the advanced bodybuilding stage, the barbells can be added to focus on strength without worrying about the stability of the body.
📑 Here is an essential resource for studying the detailed differences between the dumbbells and barbells – Barbells vs. dumbbells: What’s better for Mass & Strength Gains?
But how do I do barbells training with resistance bands?
Well, there are two ways of performing resistance bands training with barbells. The first way is to make use of a plastic or steel rod you may find in your house. Just wrap the loop ends of the power loop bands around both ends of the rod and perform deadlifts, squats, lunges, rowing, etc.
Another way is to buy a simple barbell rod that is readily available on amazon.com.
I found this Portable home gym bar kit on Amazon, which is exceptionally lightweight and best suited for barbells workout with resistance bands for use in the home or outdoor conditions.
Alternatively, there are barbell resistance bands sold by us, which are incredibly versatile. However, these unique barbell bands are only meant for beginners looking for toning & general fitness of the body.
Focusing too much on strength training –
Like any other training, the resistance bands training is prone to injury if done incorrectly without adequate rest and warm-up. The youngsters often jump to the main strength workout without warming up.
The injuries are bound to happen if you don’t understand the importance of warm-up and include them in each workout session and monthly, yearly plans.
👍 MY RECOMMENDATION –
Before the main workout, the warm-up of preliminary muscles (to be targeted) increases the blood flow to those muscles. It provides an ample amount of oxygen to sustain the intensity during the main workouts.
It is also a great idea to start with a few low-intensity exercises of primary body parts before heading to the strength workout.
For example, if you are going to do a session of legs and butts’ workout today, perform 5 to 10 minutes of cardio workout, focusing mainly on legs. After that, perform few repetitions of the bodyweight exercises such as squats, lunges, butt kicks, calf raises before adding resistance bands in the follow-up exercises.
➤ It is also important to switch periodically between the resistance and strength training on a weekly, monthly, and yearly basis to keep the injuries to a minimum.
📑 To understand the difference between the resistance training & strength training, and how they impact your workout routines, do bookmark this article we made – Resistance Training Vs Strength Training – Which One To Choose | Guide
Missing the potential of combining resistance bands with free weights –
If you own a pair of dumbbells along with the resistance bands and you have not been using them in combination, you miss lots of opportunities and benefits that come with them.
👍 MY RECOMMENDATION –
As I explained to you in previous paragraphs, every exercise we perform includes a style of strength curve of muscles. The maximum load that we can lift during any strength workout is restricted by the point in the range of motion where muscles are the weakest.
➤ What if we can increase the resistance only in those sections of the range of motion where muscles are comparatively stronger. It will assist you in making muscles even more potent.
This is what pro athletes do with their training when they add power loop bands to the ends of the barbells during a chest press, deadlifts, squats, lunges, etc.
Further, if you are looking to buying thicker bands to increase the resistance, hold on, use the dumbbells (if you have), and combine them with the bands in a biceps curl, bent over row and shoulder presses.
📑 Here is a resource I made explaining the benefits and methods of combining resistance bands with dumbbells to read more about the benefits and techniques of combining them – Benefits Of Combining Resistance Bands With Free Weights -Pro And Cons
Giving a toss for safety during resistance bands exercises –
There are lots of misconceptions around the resistance bands. People assume them to be safe due to their soft rubber material and lightweights in comparison to the dumbbells and barbells.
However, when stretched to their maximum length, their resistance is equivalent to the heavyweight dumbbells. Just imagine how much impact it shall have just in case the band snaps all of a sudden during a high-intensity workout.
Many cases have been reported in the past where permanent eye loss and severe dental injuries have been reported due to the sudden breakage and slipping of bands under feet.
👍 MY RECOMMENDATION –
The resistance bands come under the high-risk category.
➤ Here are some of the precautions that need to be taken while doing workouts with resistance bands-
- Always keep your face away from the range of resistance bands while doing resistance exercises.
- Avoid anchoring resistance bands directly under bare feet. Use flat sole shoes as they provide better grip and control over resistance bands.
- Replace resistance bands as soon as they start showing signs of damage.
- Keep kids away from the resistance bands.
- Choose a secure and reliable object for anchoring resistance bands.
Further, avoid training over an uneven surface, prevent resistance bands from the exposure to direct sunlight and store bands in a dry & cool environment.
📑 There are many more instructions to be taken care of during resistance bands training, which has been covered in details in this article – Are Resistance Bands Safe – Best Practical Tips To Avoid Injury
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