Bands should be an important part of your training

October 24, 2015

OK, I get it, stretching a color-coated piece of rubber tubing doesn’t exactly look as intense as lifting heavy iron, but trust me it can be just as valuable if used correctly. In fact, there are many things about training with bands that can be more beneficial than pumping iron, and if you integrate band training within your regular routine, it can be an excellent way to take your training to the next level.

Low impact

Bands are different because they are low impact and do not put direct pressure on the joint, making them an excellent way to get a great workout without the wear and tear of heavy poundage.

This means you can get an exhausting workout without the risk of injury or the pain that sometimes comes with free weights or machines. Also, bands can be the bridge between injury and recovery because training with bands allows the muscles surrounding an injured area to stay strong and prevent atrophy. Then when the injury is healed you can combine band training with free weights for an integrated training program.

Variable resistance

A unique quality of bands is that the resistance varies throughout the movement instead of remaining steady like free weights.

In other words, if you curl 15 pounds, no matter how you look at it 15 pounds of pressure is placed on the bicep.

When using a band, the tension on the muscles varies depending on how far the band is stretched. This allows you to get more repetitions to fully exhaust the muscles and to work different parts of the movement like the top or bottom of the curl.

Constant tension

Bands can create a burn in the muscles that can’t be compared to in any other type of training because if you keep them tight there is no rest during the movement, allowing you to isolate the area of the body being used and recruiting more muscle fibers to spark new progress.

Unlike weights where there is usually a brief resting period at the top and bottom of each movement, bands keep the muscles tense, engaged and on fire.

User friendly

Another great quality of bands is that they stretch in angles that machines do not. Because there is no weight attached to them, it’s very easy for people to perform basic exercises correctly, where it may take much longer for them to learn to do it properly with a machine or a bar. Also, the fact that they are pliable allows them to fit everyone regardless of height arm or leg length, making them a one-size-fits-all solution.

Combined with free weights

Bands can be attached to weights to allow competitive weight lifters to work through sticking points at different parts of a lift. For example, if you are weak at the top of the deadlift, bands can be attached to the bar so that as you get to the top of the movement the band stretches tighter applying more tension to that bar specifically targeting your weakness. Bands can also be attached to the bar on the bench press so as you push the bar farther off your chest the band tightens to work the eccentric part of the lift. These are just a few examples, but the options are endless and bands can be used for many different applications.

Most people think training with bands is only for physical therapists or people recovering from an injury, but nothing could be further from the truth. Combining band training with weight training, body weight movements and whatever else piques your interest could be extremely valuable for everyone regardless of their goals.

Chris Antonio is a personal trainer and former world-class weightlifter. He has been lifting for more than 20 years and has trained a wide variety of clients ranging from All-American athletes to the average person trying to get into shape. To send a question to the Ask the Trainer column, email Chris at or check out for training tips, news and inspirational stories.

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