Resistance bands were once the low-impact tool relegated to the warmup area and physical therapists’ offices. Now they’re finding their place in performance gyms as a piece of equipment for developing strength.
Bands have a few advantages over weights. First, they’re easier on your joints, says Alex Guerrero, body coach for Tom Brady and co-founder of TB12. Here’s why: When you pick up a weight, gravity is always pulling it down. That constant pressure, always in one direction, takes its toll on your joints—which eventually can lead to injury. Bands don’t use gravity to provide resistance. Instead, they create it in whatever direction they’re stretched—above, below, or sideways. As a result, they spread out the pressure on joints, while also activating muscles in different directions and increasing your range of motion, all of which helps you achieve new levels of strength.
Removing gravity from the equation also forces you to remain engaged throughout the entire movement (unlike your fellow gymgoers who let their barbells clang on the ground). That translates to more muscle-building potential in fewer reps.
Try this 30-minute workout, courtesy of Guerrero, two or three times a week.
Most gyms have a set of bands. Grab three: light, medium, and heavy. For each move, choose the one that lets you get through the reps, but not easily. Certain moves require something to attach the band to; a lifting rig or a wall-mounted ladder work well.
- Band Together: For a more lifting-focused workout, you can combine bands with free weights. Try doing curls with a band hooked under your foot and nestled in your hand, and a dumbbell on top. You get the added engagement from the band plus the pull of the hand weight.
- On the Road: Bands are ideal for travel—a few ounces of rubber can take the place of hundreds of pounds of metal. You can also take them on your runs. Wear one sash-style, find a playground or park bench, and do some strength work along with the cardio.
Perform each move for 20 to 30 seconds, then rest the same amount of time. Move swiftly through the reps while maintaining form. Complete 2 to 3 sets of each move.