With most exercises and exercise equipment, there is a general goal of not only burning calories but also building muscle to a degree. For some, this may be a bigger focus than others, but when using something like a resistance band, can they help build muscle?
Resistance bands can build muscle, as one of the most essential things muscles need to grow is the presence of tension. Through the use of resistance bands, your muscles are met with the right amount of tension that will allow for engagement and thus, growth.
Resistance bands are used prolifically in the physical therapy world, as they are able to target hard-to-reach muscle groups that would not ordinarily react to more standard exercises. Although resistance bands are able to engage muscles, how well do they work when it comes to actually building them? Continue reading to find out how building muscle works, how resistance bands build muscle, and the best resistance band exercises to build muscle.
How Building Muscle Works
Before understanding why resistance bands are so great for building muscle, you have to first understand how building muscle actually works. Muscle strength is an essential part of a well-functioning and healthy body and because of this, they should not only be maintained, but kept at a strength level that allows you to live life with physical ease. When it comes to building muscle though, how exactly does the process work?
To build muscle, your body must go through the process of muscle hypertrophy. This is the process where the fibers of the muscle are damaged or injured through resistance, which then are repaired by fusing the damaged fibers back together. When this happens, muscle mass and size are increased.
When you see the word “damage” next to the word “muscle” you may be inclined to believe that this is a harmful process. In a way, yes, your muscles are damaged, but this is also in a way that helps to strengthen them. This kind of damage is one that is necessary in order to keep your muscles strong and your body in a state that is able to tackle daily tasks as well as more rigorous tasks without difficulty.
Various hormones also work towards muscle growth such as testosterone, human growth hormone, and insulin. These hormones improve how the body processes proteins, stop the breakdown of protein, activate cells that play a role in muscle development, stimulate anabolic hormones, and enhance tissue growth. Through your own efforts and your body’s natural ability, this is how building muscle works.
Do Resistance Bands Build Muscle?
Knowing how muscles are built and that this process requires resistance, you may be quick to think that the only type of effective resistance is the kind that either comes in steel or iron weights. Although these are great for muscle building and are a tried and true method, there are certainly other ways that your muscles can be broken down in order to be built back up, one of those ways being through the use of resistance bands.
Resistance bands build muscle through the use of elastic tension. The more the band is stretched, the more tension is created, and thus, the more your muscles are challenged. Resistance bands also offer more versatility to a workout as they can target muscles from any direction.
Resistance bands may look rather lackluster at first glance, and their flimsy composition or narrow width may seem anything but challenging. However, resistance bands, when properly used with the right amount of resistance for your body, are able to break down your muscles in a way that weights and other machines simply cannot. Through this combination of high resistance and repetition, muscles are broken down and built back up stronger.
Resistance bands are also incredibly beneficial when it comes to their lack of having any type of ascending or descending strength curves like other free weight exercises. This gives you more control and consistency during each exercise, which allows for a higher concentration of the muscle group you are targeting. Without any wavering or fluctuation during your workout as far as consistency goes, you are more likely to build more muscle.
Best Resistance Band Exercises to Build Muscle
Building muscle can be a tough challenge, but with the proper workouts and dedication, anyone is capable of achieving their goals, be they big or small. When it comes to using resistance bands, you know that they are able to build muscle in a way that other types of free weights cannot provide, but when it comes to actually using them, what are the best exercises? Take a look below to find the best resistance band exercises to build muscle.
One-Arm Bicep Curls
Using a loop band, stand with your feet shoulder-width apart with both feet standing on the band. Take the band with one hand with an underhanded grip. You will then bend your arm at the elbow and bring your hand up to your shoulders. Once your hand has reached this point, slowly lower it back down to your starting position. Canoe with more reps on the same arm and then switch to the other side.
Standing with your legs hip-width apart, stand in the middle of the resistance band and wrap both ends of the band around either wrist a few times. Keeping your arms tucked near the side of your body, lift the band up as your hands meet your shoulders. During this, be sure to flex your biceps in a controlled manner and keep them flexed as you lower your arms back down to your side. By curling the band around your wrists or hands, you create greater resistance.
Starting by holding the resistance band in both hands, stretch your out straight out in front of you at chest height as you place the band behind your back. You will then press the band straight out in front of you as you bring your hands together with your arms fully extended. During this motion, squeeze your chest muscles as you press and then slowly return back to your starting position to allow resistance even as you descend.
Start by standing in a position where your feet are wider than your hips. Grab the resistance band and hold it in front of your chest with both hands, allowing for plenty of tension within the band. Once you have the correct position, begin to twist from side to side. Start this movement at the waist, then squeeze your abdominal muscles as you twist further. Try to avoid doing this exercise hastily, as a moderate speed will bring better results.
To complete the splitter, stand with your knees slightly bent and your feet shoulder-width apart. Grasp the resistance band so that there is only a shoulder-width section between both hands. You will then put your arms out straight and pull the band out to both sides of your body. This should be done using the contraction of your shoulder blades until your arms can no longer extend. Avoid snapping back quickly and slowly return to your starting position.
For the rowing sequence, start by placing the band under both feet while they are also placed wider than hip-width. Then, bend at the needs while also bending at the waist as you cross the resistance band and hold each end in one hand. You will then row the bands backward in this bent over stance, simulating a motion that is similar to rowing. If you find the position is too challenging, bend your knees a bit less and always be sure to keep your back straight.
To complete the lateral walk, loop one resistance band above your knees and another around your ankles. You can either use a small loop resistance band for this, or simply tie one together at both ends. Once placed, get into a squat position with your feet shoulder-width apart and take a small step to the side. As you move, never bring your legs close enough together where tension is lost, and be sure to remain in a squat position throughout the entirety of the workout.
For an abdominal curl, you will begin by sitting on the floor with your resistance band at chest level held as both arms are straight. Slowly curl your body down as you engage each abdominal muscle and form your back to a “C” position. You will then slowly curl your body up one inch, then down an inch, and repeat until you find yourself back in an upright position. During this, be sure to inhale as your body goes down and exhale as your body goes up.
Get your body into a plank position with your feet placed shoulder-width apart as well as your arms. Your body should be completely aligned with your back straight and head looking directly at the ground to keep in line with your spine. The resistance band should be placed across your back and held at both ends as you move your chest down towards the floor. You will then contract your glutes and abs as you push up until your arms are completely extended.
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