Build muscle with resistance bands, What is this madness ?
This question probably burns your lips: “Do you really believe that we can gain muscle volume with this?”
I know, many swear by dumbbells and bars to bulk up in their gym. They laugh when we talk to them about building muscle with a resistance band.
You know what ? I understand them.
No doubt I would have done the same 20 years ago. I was sure of myself, nothing can replace cast iron to build muscle quickly.
And I was wrong...
Yes, and I changed my mind. No doubt you will change your mind too. Read on to find out all about it…
Table of Contents
- How to promote muscle mass gain
- Our latest articles on elastic bands for bodybuilding
- Why choose the resistance band to gain muscle
- Can you gain muscle with elastic bands?
- Major benefits of a resistance band
- Gain muscle volume with progressive resistance
- Training model to bulk up
- Periodization with resistance bands
- Choose a suitable elastic bodybuilding kit
- How much do resistance bands cost?
- Give bodybuilding rubber bands a chance
- FAQ – Questions about resistance bands
How to promote muscle mass gain
In fact, before saying what works or not, you have to know the mechanism of muscle gain. Otherwise, there is no point in asserting that one method works better than another.
Are you okay with that? OKAY.
Yes, what makes muscles grow? In reality, it is not enough to move from the cast iron. You should train looking for muscle congestion and progressive muscle overload.
And that is entirely possible with a resistance band.
The rules to absolutely follow to gain volume
Here they are in order of priority:
- Choose a maximum of 8 to 12 repetitions to promote volume on the last series of each type of exercise selected. Lower sets promote strength, while longer sets work on endurance and cardio.
- Increase muscle resistance gradually and steadily. Indeed, it is muscle degradation that leads to its reconstruction and volume gain.
- Do not work a muscle more than twice a week when you have reached an intermediate level (ie after 6 months of quality training).
- Select 3 exercises per muscle/muscle group (the 3rd will be a mono-joint finishing movement).
- Consume at least 2 grams of protein per pound of body weight (do not exceed 3 grams).
- Change exercises regularly to challenge your muscles and force them to adapt. For example, you can do this every month.
- Eat more on training days, but not on rest days (to avoid fat).
- Consume fewer carbohydrates outside of training. Also remember to drink enough water.
- Get enough sleep to boost your testosterone production.
- Practice intermittent fasting to naturally increase growth hormone. Fast on rest days, but not on strength days.
As you can see, the 4 most important points for mass gain relate to the type of training chosen.
Our latest articles on elastic bands for bodybuilding
You will find the complete list of articles on the site at this page.
Why choose the resistance band to gain muscle
This blog is primarily for those who do bodybuilding or fitness at home or on the go.
Bodybuilding elastics are:
- Capable of mobilizing more muscle fibers than cast iron
- Progressive resistance to achieve functional movements
- Low stress on your joints
- Able to work all muscle groups
- Light and compact for easy transport (a small bag is enough)
- Usable everywhere
- Very resistant if you buy the best products available (we will talk about this later)
- Inexpensive despite a high level of resistance
- Versatile, they allow a wide variety of working angles and a multitude of exercises
We will come back to these advantages in this article…
Can you gain muscle with elastic bands?
The answer is definitely YES!
What's stopping you from picking up enough resistance to stall on the 8th or 12th rep?
That's what I do on my 3rd and 4th sets. I do 16 to 20 repetitions on my 1st set to warm up the beast, and sometimes also on a 2nd series, but it's also because I'm not very young anymore 😅
Then I choose a resistance band (or several) which obliges me to stop at the 12th repetition in the 3rd set and at the 10th maximum in the 4th set. It is this achievement of failure that helps me to take an additional step.
A concrete example :
In the standing press for the pecs, you can do:
- 20 repetitions to warm up to 15 kg of resistance per arm
- 16 repetitions at 25 kg of resistance per arm
- 12 repetitions at 30 kg of resistance per arm
- 10 repetitions at 40 kg of resistance per arm (with the objective of increasing by 2.5 kg per arm the following week)
I know you will read comments on the Net saying that an elastic resistance band for resistance training does not make you bulk up.
But this is FALSE, and I have never seen any studies to show it. And I am living proof that these reviews are wrong, even at my age.
Moreover, studies carried out in the USA clearly indicate that it is possible to build muscle with this equipment. It's only if you're looking to have a bodybuilder physique that you should use cast iron. And to consume steroids and other growth hormones…
But this type of physique has never been to my liking. Besides, it's almost impossible to maintain huge muscle mass in a natural way.
Spread the word !
In any case, this equipment really amazed me. Now let's talk about some advantages of using resistance bands for building muscle...
Major benefits of a resistance band
Use of stabilizer muscles
From studies show that the strength gains obtained with the use of a resistance band are similar to those obtained with dumbbells or weight machines. This is true not only for amateur home weight training sessions, but also for advanced athletes.
Training with resistance bands even stresses the stabilizing muscles more than training with weights. This is important because these muscles support stronger muscles and joints during exercise, which reduces the risk of injury. In addition, strengthening them improves the execution of movements and stability. This is why resistance bands are often used in rehabilitation.
Progressive resistance of tubular bands
One of the strengths of a bodybuilding elastic is to require an effort more adapted to the muscles and joints than with free loads.
Indeed, dumbbells and bars impose significant stress on the joints and muscles at the start of the movement, when they are most fragile. In addition, the weights being dependent on gravity, they require little effort from the muscles at the end of the movement, as is the case with the biceps curl, the bench press for the pecs or the military press for the shoulders.
And the list of examples is long in a multitude of exercises for most muscle groups. However, this is the moment when the muscles should have the greatest tension. And that's exactly what happens with the progressive resistance of the resistance band.
Indeed, a resistance band offers a low (or less strong) level of resistance at the beginning of the movement when the muscles have little strength. But the more the latex tubes are stretched, the more this resistance increases. And that's exactly what muscles need to achieve the congestion so important for bulking up. They are asked for more effort when they are the most contracted.
In fact, this sports equipment follows the curves of force generated by the joint levers and the muscles during movement.
Gain muscle volume with progressive resistance
Strength training promotes muscle hypertrophy. This phenomenon occurs when muscle fibers are damaged during exercise (which is part of the normal process). With rest and proper nutrition, the body repairs damaged fibers by fusing them together. When this happens, the muscles bulk up.
The principle of progressive overload
Progressive overload means you are continually forcing your body to adapt to more stress or strain than before. This allows you to gain more muscle mass and strength. You can do this by applying these principles during your workouts:
- Lift heavier weights or use stronger elastic tubing;
- Increase the number of repetitions to promote muscle exhaustion. When using resistance bands you want to feel the muscle contracting hard and by the end of the set the muscle should be burning. Muscle congestion must be achieved.
- Turn up the volume: This means adding extra sets to your workout. For example, if you usually do 3 sets of 10 reps of bicep curls, aim for 4-5 sets next time.
Apply the 8 to 12 rep rule
Don't forget to follow this rule if your primary goal is to bulk up. Your sets must be intense enough on the last 2 sets so that you cannot go beyond 12 repetitions (except for the warm-up).
Otherwise, increase the resistance of your bands. If you stall below 8 repetitions, reduce the resistance unless you are looking for muscle strength rather than hypertrophy (volume gain). Do at least 3 or 4 sets per exercise and 3 exercises per muscle or muscle group.
But you will see later that you can also use the principle of periodization to progress more quickly.
Training model to bulk up
I recommend a program over 4 or 5 days a week so that each muscle is targeted twice if possible. If your schedule doesn't allow it, follow at least the 3-day split routine.
Program 4 days a week
The 4-day split routine program looks like this:
- Monday : Upper body session
- Tuesday : Lower body session
- Wednesday : Rest
- Thusday : Upper body session
- Friday : Lower body session
- Saturday : Rest
- Sunday : Rest
You can of course adapt the days to what suits you best. But try to keep the rhythm 2 days of training / 1 or 2 days of rest.
Program 3 days a week
A routine split over 3 days must be established over 2 weeks like this:
- Monday : Upper body session
- Tuesday : Rest
- Wednesday : Lower body session
- Thusday : Rest
- Friday : Upper body session
- Saturday : Rest
- Sunday : Rest
- Monday : Lower body session
- Tuesday : Rest
- Wednesday : Upper body session
- Thusday : Rest
- Friday : Lower body session
- Saturday : Rest
- Sunday : Rest
Periodization with resistance bands
Periodization involves creating a structured program that takes into account variations in the type, intensity and volume of work. It focuses on progressive training followed by periods of rest.
For example, you can follow a progressive load period of 3 weeks during which you try to use resistance bands with the strongest resistance possible for 8 to 12 repetitions, followed by a week of recovery lighter during which you will do longer series of 13 to 20 repetitions. The goal is to maximize gains while reducing the risk of injury. What is called periodization, it's this alternation between low, moderate and high intensity workouts.
Exercise creates metabolic stress resulting from depletion of energy stores and mechanical stress resulting from damage to muscle protein structure. Rest allows your body to repair muscle protein and replace stored fuel (glycogen).
Space out your toughest workouts and combine them with lower intensity workouts. For example, do 3 high-intensity workouts, 2-3 moderate-intensity workouts, and 2 low-intensity workouts per week.
If you're going through a stressful time, it's best to take a break from high-intensity activities, as it can be hard on the body and the nervous system.
Once these 4 to 5 more moderate sessions are over, resume the course of your progressive overload sessions.
Choose a suitable elastic bodybuilding kit
Frankly, beware of the quality of the first price elastic bands. Most are shoddy at best, dangerous at worst.
I ordered some on Amazon, the name of which I will not mention, which made the trip back to the seller from the first series of bicep curls. They were starting to fray after the first set of 10 reps and didn't offer any decent resistance.
Contrary to what you might think, making good quality tapes isn't that simple. For latex to be resistant to temperature differences and stretching, it must undergo a process called vulcanization. This is what allows the elastomers to build bridges between them and to remain in condition over the long term, even if you follow a complete training session 5 times a week. My first kit lasted 7 years despite very harsh conditions of use in West Africa.
Moreover, it is necessary that the initial length does not exceed 150 cm to be usable in most movements. It's about the distance between carabiners, not just latex tubes. The variable resistor must be consistent with the indications on each tube.
I will tell you below the company I work with today to bring you top quality equipment in Europe. This company is constantly developing its products to improve them while offering excellent value for money.
The major qualities you should look for in the resistance bands you choose are:
- Made of high elasticity natural latex (elastomer with a large number of bridges) for long life. Excellent tread strength compared to synthetic rubber which will dry out and crack;
- Quality material of attachments and handles to train you without risk;
- A complete kit with many possibilities depending on your level (at least 5 tubes).
Mine are of impeccable manufacturing quality and solidity. I use them 4 to 5 times a week without sparing them.
How much do resistance bands cost?
Obviously, hardware of this quality requires a lot of design and testing work. How much does it cost to increase your muscle volume and lose weight without setting foot in a gym?
A pittance compared to the benefits you will derive from it for your physical preparation.
With your bands, you will be able to:
- Make all the movements possible with dumbbells and a bench, and more…
- Train anywhere in the world with resistance bands adapted to your level
- Easily replace machines found in the gym (like rowers, hamstring benches, incline presses, etc.)
- Create physical preparation programs dedicated to volume gain or muscle strengthening as with free weights
- Do amazing HIIT Tabata workouts to burn fat
- Progressing to the bodyweight pull-up bar without hurting yourself (especially if you are a beginner or are over 50)
- Reduce strain on your joints during workouts (like lateral raises)
- Save on the purchase of equipment or gym membership while having many possibilities of use to work all muscle groups.
All this for so little money. Really, I couldn't find better...
It really gave me a big slap when I saw their formidable efficiency. Yes, today I can build my muscles with light and transportable equipment.
And you can too
Give bodybuilding rubber bands a chance
This nomadic equipment is too little known in my opinion among the different types of resistance, and therefore not enough publicized. In addition, exercise ideas are infinite. Like me, you can even invent new movements for your sessions.
I use them 4 to 5 times a week , and for me, nothing can replace them to gain muscle without the disadvantages of dumbbells (joint tension, risk of injury, bulk, essential benches, price, etc.)
Although I like them, I won't go back to dumbbells for most of my workouts. Even under torture (well there, maybe yes…). This product fits perfectly with the requirements of a bodybuilding program at home, especially after 40 or 50 years.
If you are not equipped, I recommend one of the 2 elastic band kits from the European brand SmartWorkout. Not only are they attractively priced, but you get access to 3 free workout programs and videos. Here's what's included in the Elite pack:
- 7 latex tubes 100 % natural, which can provide up to 120 kg of resistance;
- 1 bar with integrated fasteners to attach the elastics;
- 2 non-slip silicone handles for a better grip;
- 2 padded neoprene ankle straps;
- 1 thick, easy-to-install door anchor;
- 4 unbreakable stainless steel carabiners;
- 1 compact bag to carry the kit anywhere;
- 3 free weight training programs included (Express, SmartGains, Strong & Beautiful);
- 1 user guide.
You can also purchase the SmartWorkout Pro package which includes exactly the same items except for the bar (click on the link to learn more).
There's no obligation, but I assure you that you won't be disappointed when you see your muscles grow and your figure slim down.
In the Build Muscle section, you will discover a complete weight training program in 4 sessions per week for all muscle groups. It will help you build muscle at home with this great equipment.
NOTE : This article is part of a series that demonstrates the value of elastic bands for weight training over dumbbells for home training. They are also called resistance bands. You will be able to achieve exactly what you set out to do with this remarkable equipment. A free weight trainer will also find many advantages. The combination of dumbbells with the behavior of a resistance band allows for better muscle congestion.
Millions of people today use resistance bands for their weight training sessions or to prepare themselves physically for different sports. This is true in the gym, but it is even more true for those who train at home or who people who need mobile equipment to build muscle.
What do you think? Do you prefer elastic weight bands or free weights for your home workouts? Leave a message below to share your experience or ask questions. THANK YOU!
FAQ – Questions about resistance bands
How to choose a resistance band?
Choose Tubes Instead natural latex with detachable handles equipped with metal carabiners. Versatile and very effective, you can use them for all exercises and all bodybuilding or muscle strengthening programs, including for rehabilitation.
If you have a strong bar like with the SmartWorkout Elite kit, you can simulate many exercises that are usually done with a barbell and discs such as chest presses, squats, deadlifts, etc.
How to attach a bodybuilding elastic?
The tubes can easily be fixed with a door anchor. Just be sure to exert force in the direction of closing the door or lock the door with the key so that it does not open during the effort.
It is also possible to use a wall mount such as those used with TRX straps. However, this system offers less flexibility since the point is fixed and 3 are needed to work from different angles (top, middle and bottom of the wall).
How to use an elastic band?
It is important to always work in tension. This means that the bodybuilding rubber bands must already be a little taut at the start of the movement so that the muscles are stressed throughout the exercise.
This is no problem, since a quality latex tube can stretch up to 4 times its length.
Can all muscles be trained with elastic bands?
Yes, no muscle group is spared. There are even specific exercises to solicit the hamstrings, the neck muscles or the abdominal strap, which is not so obvious with dumbbells...
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