Resistance Bands Benefits, Types & how they Work

Resistance bands have been gaining popularity in the past few years. They are an effective way to exercise without having to spend a lot of money. Here is discussion on what exactly they are, how they work, benefits types, color coding plus more.

What are Resistance Bands?

Resistance bands are sheets or tubes of stretchable material used mainly to enhance muscular contractions with an aim of creating muscular strength and endurance.  They also go by the names; rubber, workout, strength, stretch and training bands as well as resistance tubes.

The bands are made out of natural or synthetic latex rubber and they in different colors, sizes and styles.  Colors in most cases indicate amount of resistance. Some bands/tubes are straight with or without an allowance for handles while other bands form into a loop.

Digging into a little bit of history, resistance bands originated late in the 19th century. Sources indicate that they were invented by Gustav Gossweiler  as exercise tools. Gustav’s patent dates back to 1896. Initially, the bands were or made from surgical tubing and were mainly used to perform muscle recovery exercises; victims with damaged muscles used the bands to recuperate lost strength.

Today, the bands are play a huge role in general fitness and strength training. Flexibility and lightweight and affordability are three main features are attracting more and more people to resistance bands.

Do Resistance Bands Work? How?

Yes! Resistance band do work. They play a huge role in overall physical fitness. They work by creating resistance to movement similar to way free weight lifting does.

While free weights work in a vertical plane against the force of gravity, resistance bands allow you to work against the tension of the stretched elastic material in many directions.

The more stretch the band more power you will need. This is exactly what create the muscular tension needed to trigger the development of more strength as well as build muscle. This is what makes the bands just as effective as weight.

Resistance Bands Benefits

Following are some reasons resistance bands are good for your fitness routine.

Pocket friendly

Generally, these workout accessories are cheap. You can use them alone or add them to you home gym.

Free Workout Manual/Video

Some resistance bands manufacturers sell their bands with a guided exercise DVD. You do not need to hire a personal trainer

Suitable for all fitness levels

Anyone, at any fitness level can use these bands. There are options for beginners, intermediate and advanced users. The bands come in multiple resistance levels, usually light, medium or heavy meaning that adjusting is possible

They offer full body workout

Most of the resistance band sets come with suggested exercises for nearly every major muscle group in your body.

Save on storage space

You do not a whole room to store resistance bands. All you need is a small bag that can be place anywhere in your house. You can as well hang them on a hook or coil them up to store in a box or drawer after you exercise

Light weight

Resistance bands are quite small and portable meaning that travel with them to wherever you want and. At the same, you can with the anywhere even the smallest room you can imagine of.

Replicate Familiar free Weight Exercises

Band workout are often based on familiar weight strength-training moves. For instance, if you stand on one end of the cord and curl your arm up while holding the other end, you’ve replaced your standard dumbbell bicep curl.


With resistance bands you will not need to worry especially when you are working out alone. Chances of dropping heavy weights on any party of body are minimal.

Combine with other exercise equipment

For the sake of variety, you can still combine bands with other exercise equipment or machines. This will provide a double benefit of both the weight and the bands.

Types of Resistance Bands

Resistance bands come in different designs/styles. Following are the types.

1. Therapy Band

This band is always used for rehabilitation. They lack handles and are gentler on your body. They have a flat surface as opposed to various bands that have a tubular structure. The bands are 7 feet long and are suitable for people regaining strength and elderly people who need low impact exercises.

Therapy bands are effective when coupled with fat burner workouts and pilates where little resistance is necessary to burn fat. Most women use this band for muscle toning.

They are also suitable for static and dynamic stretching as you finalize your workout. These bands will enable you to increase your stretch and improve your range of motion.

Therapy bands offer between 3 and 10 pounds of resistance and they;

  • Enable weight loss & muscle toning
  • Strengthen muscles, especially for beginners
  • Enable flexibility

2. Tube Bands or Compact Resistance Bands

These bands have a longer tube that is around four feet and comes with two plastic handles. The handles mimic dumbbell exercises and gym machine and you can easily anchor them to a bar or pole. These bands are suitable for curls, shoulder presses, back rows, and all exercises involving pulling and pressing.

The tube band enables you to hit all muscle groups therefore they are suitable for you in case you need to exercise indoors. This band offers between 10 to 50 pounds of resistance. Tube bands;

  • Offer more motion-based exercises
  • Increase muscle endurance, strength & growth
  • Enhance burning of fat
  • They have a low effect on joints

3. Mini Bands or Fit Loop Bands

These bands have a flat surface similar to the therapy bands. They have a continuous loop and you can use them for various purposes.

The latest designs have a fabric that covers the bands to offer comfort and prevent the band from rolling upwards. The band is suitable for increased stability and strength in the lower and upper body.

Mini bands are categorized either as light, medium, heavy or heavy-duty. The bands have between 5 to 50 pounds of resistance. They suitable for

  • Muscle strength, recovery & toning
  • Warm-ups
  • Shoulder and hip activation
  • Stability

4. Figure 8 Bands

The figure 8 band has two plastic handles that are connected to a tube to form a figure 8 structure. The bends are on the short end.

The double handles and short length make them perfect for building strength in the upper body, specifically the arm section. They are also suitable for push and pull exercises in the lateral and sagittal motion planes.

Figure 8 bands offer between 8 to 20 pounds of resistance. They;

  • Enhance weight loss & muscle toning
  • Enhance muscular endurance
  • Suitable for rehabilitation and physical therapy
  • Unilateral movements enhance stability

5. Ring Resistance Bands

These bands have a single tiny ring that has two handles attached on either end. It has soft handles and the bands are suitable for exercising the lower body although you have to practice different exercises other than those you would perform with the fit loop or the compact resistance band.

Ring resistance bands offer between 5 to 50 pounds of resistance. Some advantages that come with ring bands include

  • Muscle toning & strength
  • They are suitable for warm-ups
  • They promote stability
  • The bands have a negligible effect on joints

6.  Lateral Resistance Bands

Lateral bands have Velcro cuffs on both ends. They are suitable for:

  • Bodyweight assistance, that is dips, muscle-ups, and pull-ups
  • Bodyweight resistance, that is bear crawls, box jumps, and push-ups
  • Full body workout, that is thrusters, squats and shoulder presses
  • Physical therapy in case you suffer from knee, leg, and back injury. This will help you recover from torn ACL and MCL, patella, and knee replacement.
  • You can also anchor the band on a bar, perform push, and pull exercise.

Therapy bands offer between 5 and 170 pounds of resistance

7. Pull up Bands

These are specifically designed for pull-ups. If you aim to exercise by doing pull-ups, this is the perfect equipment. This band makes it easier for you to practice without straining your arms. It is therefore perfect for exercising your upper body. It helps strengthen your biceps, rhomboids, trapezius, and lats.

Pull up bands offer between 5 and 170 pounds of resistance depending on the color code. Advantages that come with this type of bands include;

  • Helps during rehabilitation
  • Helps in Hypertrophy
  • Enables muscle endurance
  • Enhances balance and coordination

Resistance Band Colors

Typically, resistance bands are color-coded to show different levels of resistance. This coloring allows users to select an appropriate level for the workout. Code colors can vary between brands. Some brands such as fit loop bands and therapy bands have unique color codes but other bands share similar color-coding.

Red Resistance Band

Bands with this color stretch the most and offer the lightest resistance band. It is suitable in case you are a beginner since it targets muscle groups that never require intense resistance. You can use the red band to work out your shoulder and shin muscles.

Black Resistance Band

These bands stretch slightly and offer a higher tension level as opposed to the red resistance bands. They are classified as middle resistance and you can exercise with these bands after graduating from red bands. They are suitable when targeting muscle groups that require medium resistance such as your biceps and triceps.

Purple Resistance Bands

These are suitable when you already have built up muscle and when you target large muscle groups. You can use the purple bands to enhance the chest, back, and leg muscles.

Green Resistance Band

This band is stiff and unyielding. They are also suitable whenever you target large muscle groups or you can employ them after using the stretchy bands. They are suitable when targeting leg, back and chest muscles.

Blue Resistance Bands

These are the toughest bands to perform exercises. They never stretch easily and are stiff. Ensure you have enough strength before attempting these bands. They are suitable for partnered exercises whereby either of you either push or pull the band. It is suitable for enhancing leg muscles.

Further Reading