A RESISTANCE BAND may look fairly benign, but it works the body in a similar way to a pair of dumbbells, so it’ll count towards your weekly strength training quota. However, a band – whether used on your arms, legs or core – has a real advantage over free weights because, whereas weights mainly work the muscle during the concentric (shortening) phase of an exercise, resistance bands work the muscle through the concentric and eccentric (lengthening) range. If you think about how you use a set of dumbbells, as you lift them you work against gravity, but as you lower them you work with gravity, so it takes less effort. With a band, the same resistance is applied in both directions, so there is constant tension on the muscles you are working.
Used originally for muscle rehabilitation, resistance bands will not only provide a killer workout, but will also help improve your co-ordination and motor control. You can even use a band as part of your warm-up and cool-down, and they are particularly effective for runners.
The band can help you to focus on specific body areas. For example, the glutes are notoriously hard to activate and tone, but with a band you can better feel the connection and strengthen muscles in the area. At the same time, the type of muscle strength bands provide is different from traditional weight training. When your muscles are worked against the resistance of a band, they are stretched and lengthened. It is exactly this science that’s behind that lean, toned look, as opposed to the bulk you can get from weightlifting.