You can use a resistance band to simulate pull-ups and chin-ups

Resistance Bands for a Strength Training Workout

Exercises bands are sold under many brand names: Xertube, Therabands, and Ripcords are among some of the most popular. They come in three styles: resistance tubes, exercise loops, and resistance bands. These simple devices – they’re little more than big, colorful rubber bands, some with handles – can provide a full-body workout when other options are unavailable.

Originally, they gained a small following among traveling fitness buffs. Since it is easy to pack a set of resistance bands in a suitcase or overnight bag, they’re the equipment of choice for anyone who needs to keep in shape on the road. Recently, TV infomercials, workout videos, and popular comprehensive fitness programs like P90X have brought resistance bands to the attention of the mainstream public.

Different styles of exercise bands

Several types exist, each with advantages and disadvantages over the others:

Resistance tubes

Resistance tubes look like colorful lengths of oversized surgical tubing.
They feature a handle at each end and they’re usually around two feet in length while relaxed. Tubes offer different levels of resistance and they’re color-coded for easy identification. Exercise tubes have a reputation for lasting longer than bands, although they’re usually suited for different purposes.

Most weight-lifting movements can be replicated with exercise tubing, but the resistance profile is different.

Resistance bands

Unlike tubes, resistance bands generally don’t have a permanently-attached handle. However, most brands come with separate handles that can be attached to the band. For exercises that require a set of handles, tubing is the better choice.

Bands are usually longer than tubes. And, the thin, flat rubber is perfect for wrapping around the bar of a dumbbell or barbell to add extra resistance to the top of a lift. This makes them useful during weight-lifting sessions. They’re also more comfortable than tubes when it comes to wrapping them around the feet or body in various ways (unless they pull out some body hair).

For example, some bench-press specialists use bands when they’re training the lock-out portion of the movement. Or, for people who need assistance during pull-ups, band-assisted pull-ups are as simple as gripping either end of the band while hanging from a pull-up bar, then putting a foot through the resulting loop.

Exercise loops

These are similar to bands, except they’re circular, like giant rubber bands. Although they’re probably the least-versatile of the three main styles of resistance bands, some workout videos exist which specify their use. There is virtually nothing that can be done with exercise loops that can’t be done with the other styles of resistance bands.

Can exercise bands or resistance tubing replace weight lifting?

The short answer is: no.

However, they are a viable, short-term alternative for folks who don’t have access to their usual gym equipment, and for people with a shortage of storage space or a limited budget.

Heavy-duty exercise bands are surprisingly strong. Even the biggest men can use them to get a decent resistance workout. But because bands offer the most resistance when they’re fully stretched, they do not mimic the effects of gravity on a dumbbell. Consequently, they’re of less use during a squat, for instance, than they are during an overhead press.

In short, they can complement a weight-lifting workout, but they don’t replace it.

Advantages of working out with resistance bands

Exercise bands offer an alternative to dumbbells for folks who need a low-impact, high-rep workout.

Furthermore, they provide a way to get maximum resistance at full extension, without the deceleration that’s necessitated by a dumbbell. This is of inestimable value to athletes as diverse as baseball pitchers and boxers. Trainees can mimic the full-power throwing or punching motion while holding a band, without fear of the joint hyperextension that would occur if a dumbbell was providing the resistance.

Do they break?

Don’t worry about it.

Unless you touch them to something sharp while they’re at full stretch, you’ll be fine.

Over time, the latex bands may weaken, especially if you expose them to oil. But you’ll get plenty of warning when this occurs.

So you say you don’t have the room to set up a weight set and pump iron? Want a resistance band system with all the equipment and attachment options necessary to get a full-body workout? And want all the detailed information you need to build up your strength and muscular endurance on DVD and photo-filled booklet? Check out this resistance band system at Amazon (free shipping)

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{ 4 comments… read them below or add one }

Alex Chadbourne December 11, 2011 at 8:45 pm

What are the best workouts.


Wayne February 15, 2013 at 9:33 am

I’m sorry but I don’t understand the logic behind this comment, could you please explain further?
Accepting the difference between bands and weights in terms of the progressive resistance increase as the band stretches (which I feel is a benefit), how could this be less beneficial during a squat compared to a shoulder press?
“But because bands offer the most resistance when they’re fully stretched, they do not mimic the effects of gravity on a dumbbell. Consequently, they’re of less use during a squat, for instance, than they are during an overhead press.”


Thomas February 18, 2013 at 1:21 am

Conventional wisdom holds that squats with bands are less than ideal, and I tend to agree. I think it’s mostly because at the top of a squat, you ‘lock’ the knees and take the stress off the legs/hips, while at the top of the shoulder press, you need a bit of effort ( not just from the core, as with band squats) from the muscles you’re targeting just to maintain the lockout. I’ve always thought of bands as a way to target smaller muscles or muscle groups for endurance training.


Wayne February 19, 2013 at 6:13 am

I’m still not sure I understand the concept, wouldn’t the locking out at the top of a squat be the same regardless of using bands or weights? I will add though that using resistance bands to squat I use 2 x orange (120lb) 2 x purple (92lb) 2 x blue (52lb) totaling 264lb. It took a lot of trial & error to find a way of squatting this much using bands, trying to hold the handle up at my shoulders was impossible as my arms aren’t that strong & the action wants to pull you forwards. What I do is squat to the bottom, attach an ankle strap around each foot, attach the band to each foot strap & cross the band from my right foot over my right shoulder & down my back attaching to the left footstrap, and vice versa on the left side. So you have a criss cross of bands forming a harness, this leaves a mark over your back & traps like a rope burn the first few times so make take some explaining to your partner. Starting the squat at the bottom position offers around 120kg of resistance, i’m not sure what the ending weight is once stretched but I can barely stand up straight for 6 reps but I can squat close to 180kg with free weights. The difference with the bands is they feel like they engage more stabilizing muscles. My whole midsection aches the next day unlike free squats. Just my thoughts on the subject, not the same as free squats but with a little patience & practice I feel I get more out of it, also I never feel in danger of dropping the weight or falling backwards.


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