Build muscle anywhere is the promise of SmartWorkout's versatile bands.
However, many fitness enthusiasts question the effectiveness of this equipment, doubting its ability to foster substantial muscle growth.
In this article, we'll first tackle two crucial questions: can resistance bands genuinely contribute to muscle building, and what advantages do fitness bands offer compared to traditional free weights?
Subsequently, we'll delve into the best resistance band exercises and explain why SmartWorkout's equipment is the perfect companion for effective home workout sessions.
Muscle Building through Resistance Bands
The Basics of Muscle Gain
Before we explore the effectiveness of bands, let's revisit the fundamental principles of muscle hypertrophy. To trigger hypertrophy – the enlargement of muscle fibres – your training must combine mechanical tension and metabolic stress.
Mechanical tension arises when your muscle fibres lift weights; heavier loads result in greater mechanical tension. For instance, if your one-rep max on the bench press is 200 LBS and you perform a set of 5 reps at 160 LBS, the muscle experiences substantial resistance, creating mechanical tension.
Conversely, metabolic stress occurs during slightly longer sets, involving sustained tension and additional reps. It's the burning sensation at the end of a high-rep set.
Continuing the bench press example with a max force of 200 LBS, a 15-rep set at 100-1200 LBS optimises metabolic stress. Muscle hypertrophy requires a sufficient duration of mechanical tension per fibre, achievable only with a degree of metabolic stress.
To gain muscle size, you need to challenge your muscles – sometimes significantly to create mechanical tension via short sets, and sometimes slightly lighter to induce metabolic stress through longer sets.
Due to their unique properties, resistance bands can indeed apply a substantial load to muscles, fostering hypertrophy. This will be discussed further in the next section.
Building Muscle with Bands: A Science-Backed Affirmation
The evidence is clear – building muscle with resistance bands is more than possible. A comprehensive meta-analysis from 2019, encompassing 8 distinct studies, firmly establishes that elastic band training can yield strength gains comparable to conventional weight training. This remains true across diverse populations and using a range of training protocols.
Source: Meta-analysis on muscle gain with resistance bands « Elastic resistance training is able to promote similar strength gains to conventional resistance training, in different population profiles and using diverse protocols.”
In essence, these studies indicate that when tension is equal, muscles respond comparably to both free weights and elastic resistance. One study, included in the meta-analysis, precisely demonstrates this.
Researchers measured muscle activation using electromyography (EMG) during various exercises such as squats, deadlifts, horizontal and vertical pulls using fitness bands and free weights. Muscle activation remained nearly identical across exercises and muscle groups!
Example of a lateral pulldown :
Muscle activation (EMG) on lateral pulldown with free weights (CRE) and elastic bands (ERB)
However, it's important to note that muscle activation was similar, except at the initial stage of movement when the bands weren't fully stretched. To optimally stimulate muscle growth, maintaining tension throughout the entire exercise movement is crucial, maximising time under tension – a key factor in effective muscle development. Let's delve into how you can genuinely enhance your muscle-building journey using training bands.
Enhancing Muscle Growth with Fitness Bands
To optimise muscle growth through resistance bands, it's vital to maintain consistent tension across your exercises, ensuring continuous engagement of your muscles.
As demonstrated in the previous section, whether you're pushing 200 lbs with bands or using free weights, muscle activation remains similar. The real distinction lies in the tension: steady for free weights and progressively increasing for elastic bands.
The advantage of progressive resistance is its seamless alignment with the strength curve of your movements. Take the Biceps Curl, for instance – you'll feel less resistance at the start, where your strength is lowest, and greater resistance at the end, where your strength peaks. This allows for the use of higher weights while safeguarding your joints.
The downside is that if resistance is too low or the fitness band's placement is off, your muscles might not remain fully engaged throughout the movement, a contrast to using free weights. Sensing resistance only towards the end of a movement won't effectively stimulate muscle growth.
To address this, elongate the bands so they provide tension from the start of the movement. For example, during the Biceps Curl, ensure you feel the resistance right from the beginning. Starting with 80 lbs of resistance and reaching 120 lbs by the end is more effective than starting at 0 kg and reaching 120 lbs.
To ensure you sense the resistance from the movement's outset, we've designed our bands to deliver around 70% of their resistance right from the start. Furthermore, we've curated exercise videos on our YouTube channel, guiding you on proper band placement and tension sensing from the movement's initiation.
Below an example:
Start of Movement: Bands are taut right from the beginning, providing 80 lbs of resistance and maintaining muscle tension.
End of Movement: Bands are even more taut than at the beginning, delivering around 120 lbs of resistance. Despite the variable resistance, the muscle stays engaged throughout the movement, optimising time under tension and encouraging muscle growth.
In conclusion to this initial section: Yes, achieving muscle growth with resistance bands is indeed attainable, as evidenced by multiple studies. However, to genuinely maximise muscle gain and achieve muscle activation akin to free weights, it's imperative to sense the elastic resistance throughout the exercise, not solely towards the end. This necessitates precise execution and top-notch equipment.
7 Benefits of Resistance Bands Compared to Free Weights
Now that we've established the potential for muscle development using resistance bands, let's explore the range of advantages that fitness band workouts offer in comparison to traditional free weights.
1) Joint Strengthening
Several studies highlight how resistance band training improves joint mobility and strength, effectively reducing the risk of injuries among athletes.
Consider a study involving university basketball players who engaged in resistance band workouts for 5 weeks. By the end of the study period, participants had not only enhanced joint strength and mobility but had also experienced increased movement speed and sprinting abilities. A similar study demonstrated analogous outcomes for rugby players, including improved patellar stability in knees.
The inherent benefits of training bands largely stem from their progressive resistance mechanism. This design provides lower initial resistance, which is particularly advantageous for exercises like bench presses, where shoulders and pectoral muscles are most vulnerable at the start due to lever mechanics. This force curve dovetails seamlessly with the progressive nature of elastic bands, thereby fortifying joints.
Furthermore, exercises with resistance bands do not rely on guidance, which prompts engagement of deep stabilising muscles and overall enhanced stability, ultimately contributing to joint strength.
While those under 30 might not yet be concerned, safeguarding joints for the long haul necessitates avoiding continuous heavy stress on them.
This doesn't mean exclusively using resistance bands for training. Instead, incorporating at least one resistance band workout session can yield multiple benefits.
2) Training Anywhere
Gone are the days of having to attend a gym or missing workouts during holidays. The true advantage of resistance bands lies in their portability – you can work out indoors or outdoors, at home or in the great outdoors.
The complete SmartWorkout set weighs just 6.6 lbs and neatly fits into a bag. Without the resistance bar, it's a mere 3 lbs. As summer approaches, it's the ideal time to take your workouts outside and bask in the sunshine.
Smartworkout: A portable gym which holds in one bag!
3) Efficient Time Utilisation
This pairs seamlessly with the prior advantage of training anywhere, particularly at home, which considerably conserves your time.
For many of us, a trip to the gym also entails preparation, commuting, and waiting for equipment, sometimes gobbling up more time than the actual workout itself.
By training at home with your ready-to-go kit, you sidestep these impediments and zero in solely on your exercise regimen. Consequently, your workouts can be completed within just 45 to 60 minutes, all-inclusive, rather than the two-hour marathon – establishing a far more manageable habit!
4) Budget-Friendly Approach
Coming in at under £90, our portable "gym" that emulates all exercises and boasts a 5-year guarantee offers remarkable cost-effectiveness. This is exactly what our Elite set delivers.
Perhaps you've contemplated constructing a home gym, yet to match the versatility of our package, you'd require a bench, pulley system, dumbbells, and a bar, which could cost you at least £1000 (and that's a conservative estimate!).
5) Untmatched Versatility
Resistance bands facilitate a wide array of exercises, effectively honing in on muscles from various perspectives, unshackled from gravity's confines unlike traditional free weights.
Consider the bench press, for instance: with conventional weights, you're tethered to executing this pushing movement while recumbent, the bar poised above. In contrast, fitness bands empower you to perform bench press repetitions while standing or reclining, as gravity's hold dissipates.
Even better, utilising bands and a door anchor allows you to simulate an authentic cable system at home. This proves especially effective for exercises demanding vertical tension, such as triceps extensions or face pulls. Simply affix the latex tube to the apex of your door or other anchoring points.
Ditch the bench and pulley – your dependable resistance bands are all you need to comprehensively target muscles from every angle.
6) Precision and Control in Movement Execution
Movement execution with resistance bands is marked by precision – attempting to cheat during exercises is virtually futile! For instance, generating momentum before a repetition with bands is an exercise in futility; the nature of elastic resistance simply thwarts such tactics.
Furthermore, exercises involving bands do not come with the guided assistance found in machine-based workouts. You must consistently engage your core, uphold proper posture, and execute movements with meticulous attention.
As the resistance increases, the temptation to compromise form for progression also grows. However, employing bands curtails this inclination, fostering muscular growth in the specific muscle targeted during the exercise.
7) Sustained Core Engagement
As underscored in the prior advantage, resistance band exercises deviate from the guided nature of machine-based workouts. Additionally, you cannot leverage gravity's support with elastic resistance.
Consequently, movements become more unpredictable, necessitating deeper muscular engagement. This nurtures the stabilising muscles surrounding joints and the deep core muscles.
Incorporating bands into your routine furnishes highly functional workouts that:
- Fortify your core musculature
- Enhance overall stability
- Drastically enhance posture
- Adapt seamlessly to a multitude of movements
Best Resistance Band Exercises for Every Muscle Group
We've delved into the art of muscle building using resistance bands and the distinctive advantages they offer over traditional free weights. Now, let's dig into the specific exercises targeting individual muscle groups that seamlessly integrate with resistance bands, offering you comprehensive and effective muscle-building sessions.
Deadlift with Training Bands
The deadlift, the crown jewel of posterior chain exercises, hones in on the muscles of the back (latissimus dorsi and lumbar muscles), hamstrings, and glutes. Whether you're aiming to enhance your strength or bulk up those muscles, this exercise is a powerhouse for delivering remarkable results.
Even more impressively, it aligns harmoniously with resistance bands, providing an additional layer of protection against the unfortunate injuries often linked with traditional deadlifting. This exercise allows you to handle substantial loads, subjecting your knees to considerable stress at the start of the movement. Yet, with the variable resistance of bands, the tension exerted by the band is gentler as you initiate the movement, reducing the risk of injury. In contrast, tension peaks as the movement concludes, right when you're upright and in an optimal position for maximum force.
A key note: remember to incorporate sufficient rest intervals between sets for this exercise, as it demands a significant expenditure of energy.
Proper Set Up: Loop the band around the bar, creating a secure loop. Step into each loop with one foot. This act shortens the band's length, thereby intensifying the resistance.
Ideal Starting Position: Maintain a straight back and a slightly inclined torso. Bend your knees and grip the bar with an overhand grip. The bar should be close to your shins, with your shoulders positioned just above it.
Flawless Movement: Simultaneously hinge at your hips and flex your knees, rising to an upright position. Throughout the ascent, ensure the bar remains close to your body. Focus intently on maintaining correct form and a straight back during the entire exercise.
SmartWorkout Advantage: The bar can handle weights up to 200 KG, enabling robust loading for this exercise. Additionally, our bands are optimally sized for looping, allowing you to customize their length and experience immediate resistance from the very start of the exercise.
High Pulley Crunches with Fitness Bands
While most abdominal exercises can be replicated with resistance bands, the high pulley crunch stands out. It’s a gem that allows for substantial resistance application, sculpting your abs and making them pop. This exercise primarily hones in on your rectus abdominis.
Setup: Attach the anchor to the top of your door frame and thread the handles of the bands through it. Kneel with your back facing the door.
Starting Position: Kneel facing away from the door, holding the handles behind your head.
Movement: Lean your torso forward while engaging your core muscles.
Chest Press with Resistance Bands
The chest press, be it flat or incline, reigns supreme for building robust pectoral muscles, while also engaging the triceps and shoulders. Like several exercises, your joint levers are most favourable at the end of the motion, harmonising perfectly with the variable resistance bands offer.
Setup: Place the resistance bands behind your back. Loop them around the bar and pass your left hand, followed by your right hand, under the looped bands. This configuration ensures you feel the resistance right from the start of the movement.
Starting Position: The bar rests against your chest, with your palms facing downwards. Your hand spacing is slightly wider than shoulder-width.
Movement: Push the bar forward, executing a bench press movement.
Overhead Press with Elastic Bands
The overhead press, often dubbed the 'push above the head', is a compound exercise that targets your entire shoulder girdle, with a primary focus on the anterior deltoid. It also engages the arms, with a special emphasis on the triceps.
Setup: Secure the band with one foot in front and the other behind. Lunge to grasp the bar and lift it up to chest level.
Starting Position: The bar rests at collarbone level, with your hands slightly wider than shoulder-width. Position your elbows just below the bar, aligning your wrists with your forearms.
Movement: Push the bar upward as vertically as possible, envisioning a straight line. Maintain a straight, taut back by engaging your abs throughout the exercise.
Hip Thrust with Bands
The hip thrust reigns supreme for achieving those enviable, perky glutes. It's an isolation exercise that allows substantial loading, effectively targeting the gluteal muscles. This exercise boasts intense contraction (peaking at the movement's end), making it a perfect companion to the squat, which operates under significant stretching tension.
Setup: Position yourself with your back against a support (bench, sofa), aligning it with your shoulder blades. The bar lies in front of you.
Starting Position: Anchor the bands with your feet spread wide, shortening them. Position the bar over your hips.
Movement: Engage your core and press down firmly on your heels, raising your pelvis. At the peak, your body forms a straight line, with your shins at a right angle to your thighs. Consciously contract your glutes before lowering your hips in a controlled manner.
Squat with Training Bands
The squat, in the same league as bench presses and deadlifts, reigns supreme in lower body strength exercises. It's the quintessential movement for developing the lower body, prioritising the glutes and quadriceps, and also engaging the hamstrings, calves, and even the lower back.
Setup: Begin with your feet joined on the bands and squat to place the bar on your shoulders. Stand up and spread your feet.
Starting Position: Stand with your right leg and left leg almost straight, gaze straight ahead, and maintain a straight back. The bar rests on the back of your shoulders (or front for a front squat), held with your arms.
Movement: Execute a simultaneous flexion movement with your right and left leg, mimicking a sitting motion. Your back remains straight, shoulders pulled back, and knees steady. Keep your gaze forward, inhaling during the descent and exhaling as you rise, engaging your glutes. Descend as far as your mobility allows (ideally, at least to a right angle with the ground).
Triceps Extension with Fitness Bands
A straightforward yet effective exercise, the tricep extension with resistance bands systematically targets all three heads of the triceps (long, medial, and lateral), determined by your chosen grip (neutral, pronated, or supinated).
Setup: Position the anchor at the top of your door to mimic a pulley system. Thread the bands through the loop. Ideally, the anchor should be positioned above your head.
Starting Position: Stand facing the bands, gripping them in a neutral position. Alternatively, attach your bar for a pronated or supinated grip to emphasise the long head of the triceps. Maintain a slightly inclined stance, with elbows immobile and close to your body.
Movement: Extend your forearms while keeping your elbows close to your body. At the end of the movement, the bands should form a 45° angle to the ground, pulling them backward, not downward. On average, you should be about 1 meter from the anchor. Maintain a straight back and shoulders pulled back throughout the exercise. The muscle contraction peaks at the end of the movement.
Biceps Curl with Resistance Bands
A comprehensive exercise targeting both the long and short heads of the biceps brachii, the bicep curl allows for substantial resistance, making it the quintessential exercise for maximal bicep muscle volume. Pair it with hammer curls to also engage the brachioradialis (forearm muscle).
Setup: Grab your bar and let the bands form half-circles on the ground. Secure the bands with your feet.
Starting Position: Adopt a supinated grip, with hands positioned slightly outside your shoulders. Keep your back straight and elbows close to your body.
Movement: Flex your forearms towards your shoulder, while maintaining elbows level with your torso. Engage your core to ensure stability and prevent body swinging. Keep your back straight. To target the entire bicep, your hands are slightly wider than shoulder-width apart.
Full-Body Workout Routine with Resistance Bands
Now that we've familiarised ourselves with the key exercises targeting each muscle group using resistance bands, let's dive into a comprehensive full-body workout leveraging the power of these versatile bands.
Rest Time: 120 seconds
Rest Time: 90 seconds
Bent Over Row
Rest Time: 90 seconds
Rest Time: 75 seconds
Rest Time: 60 seconds
Rest Time:60 seconds
Feel free to incorporate this muscle-building routine into your schedule 2-3 times a week, ensuring a minimum of one rest day between each session. This structure is especially well-suited for beginners, accelerating your mastery of the correct exercises using resistance bands. Moreover, engaging in compound movements (a hallmark of full-body workouts) amplifies your anabolic hormone levels, fueling muscle growth.
Now that you're equipped with insights into maximising muscle gain through resistance bands, appreciating their manifold benefits, and mastering the top exercises for each muscle group, let's delve into how we've meticulously designed our package to help you genuinely achieve substantial muscle growth using these remarkable bands.
SmartWorkout: The Best Resistance Band Set in the UK for Building Muscle
Up to 360 LBS of Resistance
As we delved into earlier, sculpting muscle demands a hefty pull on those fibres (mechanical tension), and to make that happen, your gear must offer up a substantial resistance.
Our fundamental kit delivers a robust 260 LBS (120 KG) of resistance, and if you're feeling ambitious, there are two extensions available to crank it up to a staggering 360 LBS (165 KG). This level of resistance is well suited for newcomers and those at an intermediate level, aspiring for a chiselled and athletic physique.
Handing out 160 KG of resistance to bands may seem straightforward, but the real deal lies in ensuring your kit stands up to the pressure during every workout. At SmartWorkout, we don't just talk the talk; we promise both heavy-duty training and unwavering safety. To back up that promise, we've engineered three innovative processes:
1) Steel Carabiners with Screw Locks
Say goodbye to the dainty carabiners you find on run-of-the-mill bands. Each SmartWorkout band boasts a rugged steel carabiner (akin to those used in climbing) featuring a dependable screw lock mechanism. No surprises during your reps – these locks are rock solid.
2) A Resistance Bar Bar Capable of Supporting up to 460 LBS
Our bar is at the core of the SmartWorkout identity; we blazed the trail in Europe when it comes to elastic bar technology. Many have tried to mimic our approach since. However, be cautious, as most elastic bars out there are as fragile as spun sugar, crumbling under the pressure of high resistance.
Our bar, forged from steel with a bolstered screw system, is built to withstand a colossal 460 LBS (200 KG) of resistance. We recommend sticking to a load of no more than 360 LBS (160 KG) to keep a margin of safety.
3) Genuinely Natural Latex Bands Stretching Up to 7 Times Their Length
Our bands are the product of 100% natural latex – pure and simple, no plastic or other fillers. These bands are not your run-of-the-mill tubes; they're notably broader and stretchier, capable of stretching up to seven times their original size during workouts. This ensures abundant elasticity without the risk of snapping. This is why we advise stretching them only up to four times their initial length.
4) Reinforced Accessories
Handles, ankle straps, and door anchors have all been meticulously fashioned using the finest materials to ensure safety during a multitude of exercises. Our accessories come with an ironclad 5-year warranty.
Initial Movement Tension for Optimised Muscle Gain
Our aim was to mimic the feel of free-weight exercises with our latex bands. As we highlighted earlier, if you're gunning for maximum muscle gain using resistance bands, you need to feel that resistance from the get-go – not just as you reach the end of the move.
This drove us to engineer bands that provide a meaty portion of their resistance right from the start of the stretch – around 60% when extended to twice their length and a solid 80% when they're stretched to three times their length.
For instance, in a biceps curl exercise using three black bands, your rep begins with resistance hovering around 60-80 LBS and peaks at 100-120 LBS, as opposed to commencing from zero and hitting 120 LBS. This approach optimises muscle growth by keeping those muscles under tension throughout the entire motion, even if the tension varies.
SmartWorkout resistance bands offer a large part of their resistance as soon as they start to stretch, optimising muscle activation throughout the exercise.
Comprehensive Workout Routines with Resistance Bands
Even armed with top-notch gear, embarking on a muscle-building journey requires a well-rounded plan. That's why we're offering three distinct programmes, each tailored to a specific goal:
- SmartGains: Specifically designed to fuel muscle volume
- Strong & Beautiful : A blueprint for shedding fat and achieving toning
- Express A swift 15-20-minute daily muscle-building session
Every resistance band programme is meticulously fashioned to align with SmartWorkout equipment, ensuring:
- Specificity: Tailored to SmartWorkout gear
- Reliability: Tested and followed by our own team members
- Effectiveness: Features only the truly impactful band exercises
Each workout session is meticulously outlined, featuring the number of sets, repetitions, rest intervals, and rest days. Access to video demonstrations of all programme exercises is, of course, available on our YouTube channel. This ensures that you master each exercise with impeccable form, propelling your progress.
The real advantage? This content is frequently updated for our members. What started with just one programme and 10 exercise videos has evolved into three comprehensive programmes and over 35 exercise videos – and we're far from done!
Wrapping Up: Resistance Band Exercises
As we conclude this article, we've delved into how to maximise muscle gain using resistance bands, explored their advantages, identified top-tier exercises, and uncovered why SmartWorkout has crafted the quintessential kit for effective muscle building through bands.
If you have questions or any other thoughts, don't hesitate to reach out to us at email@example.com.