Do Resistance Bands Build Muscle? Best Toning Exercises

Resistance bands are ideal for strength training exercises, whether you’re a total gym rat or fitness newbie. These large elastic bands can be flat or tubular and are versatile enough to work into virtually any exercise routine. 

In this guide, you’ll learn how to build muscle with resistance bands, the best exercises to increase strength and tone your entire body, and the do’s and don’ts of resistance band training.

If you’re looking to build muscle quickly, resistance bands can become an indispensable part of your home gym arsenal. These bands add tension to your movements, which means your muscles work harder and enter hypertrophy.

These simple fitness tools can do far more than tone those vanity muscles, however. When you use resistance bands, you also engage your stabilizing muscles.

For example, during a push-up, your arms and chest are in direct use. However, your abdominals, legs, and back are also hard at work, keeping you stable.

Resistance bands, therefore, are fantastic tools to target those hard-to-engage muscles and build up full-body strength.  In fact, studies show that resistance band training can build comparable strength and muscle to using dumbbells or weight machines, with just 4 to 12 weeks of regular workouts. 

Do Resistance Bands Build Muscle

Benefits of Resistance Bands for Building Muscle

If you’ve got an affinity for big machines and weight racks, you might be wondering why so many people use bands. Here are the benefits of using resistance bands to build muscle and get fit.

Inexpensive

Typically, resistance bands are far cheaper than weight systems or machines, ranging from $25 to $50.

Portable

Due to their shape, resistance bands can easily be rolled up and tucked away on a shelf or in a bag.

Adaptable

No matter what skill or strength level you’re at now, resistance bands can be incorporated into your routine. Yoga, bodyweight exercises, and cardio all see a boost when you add bands.

Rehabilitation and Stretching

If you’ve lost your strength due to illness or injury, don’t worry: resistance bands have a generous learning curve. Beginner bands provide less resistance so that you can build your muscles back up at your own pace.

Easy to Learn

With correct placement and usage, you’ll usually feel exactly which muscles are being targeted and be able to adjust accordingly. What’s more, because there aren’t any bells and whistles to learn, resistance bands have a lower barrier for entry than heavy-duty gym equipment.

Provide a Full-Body Workout

A varied set of resistance bands is virtually all you need to get a full-body workout. A basic set provides plenty of options to target your arms, chest, back, abs, glutes, and legs.

Muscle Tone and Endurance

Since resistance bands can target both primary “mover muscles” and stabilizers, you’ll not only see an increase in muscle tone: you’ll really feel a difference in your overall endurance. Improved balance, decreased joint pain, and great core strength are all common benefits of a well-rounded, consistent resistance band routine.

Do Resistance Bands Help Build Muscle

8 Resistance Band Exercises for Muscle Building

For the following exercises, aim for 2 sets of 20 to 30 reps total or per side, as applicable. Beginners can start with fewer reps and increase gradually.

1. Squats

Squats target your glutes and leg muscles but can also provide a generous challenge during cardio routines. To use resistance bands in your squats, hold a flat one in each hand with your arms out in front of your chest. Do some pulses while lifting your arms overhead, keeping tension in the band to further engage your core.

2. Overhead shoulder presses and leg lunges

While lunging, perform a shoulder press movement with a flat resistance band held between your hands. Draw your arms down in synchronization with each lunge. Your glutes, legs, arms, and abs will all feel a great burn from this exercise.

3. Abdominal Curl

Hold the ends of a resistance band in each hand and sit. Bend downward slowly, curving your spine, then proceed to move up and down by about an inch. Keep your core engaged, and make sure your resistance band doesn’t go slack.

4. Oblique twists

With one end of a resistance band gripped firmly in each hand, hold your arms directly out in front of your chest while standing. Keep your feet parallel to one another, standing just a bit wider than your hips. Perform twists from side to side, but make sure to engage your oblique muscles.

This resistance band exercise is exceptional for those suffering from back pain, since weakened obliques mean less spinal support.

5. Bicep circles

Step on the center of your resistance band and wrap the ends around your wrists. Slowly raise and lower your arms, as if lifting a dumbbell.

6. Tricep kick backs

Resume the same position you would in a bicep curl. Instead of lifting your arms, move them behind you. This exercises your shoulders and upper arms, in particular.

7. Rowing Sequence

Once again, stand on the center of your resistance band, but this time widen your stance beyond your hips. Bend at your waist, with knees also bent, and hold the band’s ends in your hands. Remain in this stance while rowing your arms back slowly.

8. Straight leg deadlift

Another powerful exercise to tone your glutes and hamstrings, a straight leg deadlift, is simple to perform with resistance bands. Simply stand on your band, keeping feet shoulder-width apart, and hold one end in each hand. Bend at your hips and reach down until you feel your hamstrings stretch. Slowly come up and repeat.


The Do’s and Don’ts of Resistance Band Muscle Training

Do use the right resistance band for a workout.

Tubular bands are great for some exercises, while others call for a flat band. Size and tension should be given careful attention, as well. 

Do know the color meanings for each resistance band.

Most bands are color-coded, so you can tell at a glance what resistance level you’re getting. This color system varies between manufacturers, but in general, red means light, green means medium, and blue means heavy. If you aren’t sure how large of a set to buy, opt for three basic bands in light, medium, and heavy tensions.

Do Resistance Bands Work For Building Muscle

Do inspect your band before you use it.

Worn, fading, or cracked bands will not provide proper tension for a good workout. What’s more, they could snap during use and cause injury.

Do exercise without a band first.

Not only is it helpful to make sure you’re using proper form before you add tension, but this will also help warm up your muscles for the tougher portion of your workout.

Do take your time before using harder bands.

Just as you wouldn’t rush to lift the heaviest weight in the rack, you also shouldn’t jump to the heavy-duty resistance bands right away. Build your strength up with easier bands first, increasing reps and sets gradually.

Do buy quality resistance bands.

Poorly manufactured bands—which are usually the dirt-cheap variety—can snap more easily and cause injury.

Don’t use a very tight band.

More tension doesn’t automatically mean faster results. If your bands provide too much tension, you can strain muscles or cause injuries, which can derail your fitness goals very quickly.

Don’t let the band tension do your work for you.

When returning to starting position, avoid letting the band’s natural resistance pull your limbs. Doing so won’t properly engage your muscles, and can also result in injury.

Don’t overstretch your band.

Just like the rubber band on a newspaper, overworked resistance bands can snap. These can cost you more money in the long run, at best—and injure you, at worst.

Don’t store your band in humid or sunny areas.

Elastic loses its structural integrity in bright, hot, humid conditions. This can lead to decreased tension as well as breakage. Store your bands in dark and cool or room temperature places, preferably loose and hanging.


People Also Ask (FAQs)

Can you grow your glutes with just resistance bands?

Yes, you can tone and add mass to your gluteal region with resistance bands. Squats, lateral leg lifts, and banded walks are all excellent moves to engage those muscles. Remember that diet, proper sleep, and stress management also play pivotal roles in building muscle.

Do resistance bands work for bodybuilding?

While many bodybuilders opt for traditional weights, resistance bands can also achieve progressive overload to build strength and mass. Furthermore, resistance bands are quieter, cheaper, and easier to transport.

Can resistance bands build abs?

Bands can target obliques, upper abdominals, and lower abdominals. Add resistance bands to sit-ups, bicycle crunches, or twists to intensify your usual ab routine.

Will resistance bands make my thighs bigger?

Unless you are actively trying to bulk up and gain mass, resistance bands will not make your thighs larger. They might appear larger initially, however, as your muscles grow and push remaining fat out farther. You can also experience inflammation or retain water, so look to your diet first and foremost.

How long do exercise bands last?

With proper storage and care, resistance bands can last two to three years with regular use.

How much weight can a resistance band hold?

A very heavy-duty resistance band can provide and withstand 150 to 175 pounds of tension. That said, it’s never wise to “test” the strength of a resistance band by hanging from it, over-stretching it, or even just hanging deadweight from one when you need a rest.


Conclusion

Resistance bands can be inexpensive, convenient ways to build strength and tone muscle in almost any exercise routine.

While once dismissed as nothing but physical therapy tools, exercise bands have grown in popularity for everything from yoga to home gym setups, thanks to their versatility in full-body fitness.