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Are Elastic Bands Higher Than Free Weights?

By Michael J. Rudolph, Ph.D.

Elastic bands present a novel type of resistance that places appreciable stress on muscle tissue, inflicting appreciable beneficial properties in muscle mass and power that’s corresponding to free weights.

I’m at all times searching for distinctive methods to reinforce my coaching and alter it up a bit of bit. Nicely, surprisingly I got here throughout a number of nice articles that spotlight the distinctive muscle-building qualities supplied by resistance coaching with elastic bands. These research clearly display that elastic resistance coaching produces a basically totally different coaching stimulus when in comparison with free weights or machines, making it a wonderful different for lean muscle development and power.

Extra Muscle Is Activated

Free weights and elastic resistance basically differ as a result of free weights present fixed resistance all through the whole vary of movement, whereas elastic bands present larger resistance during the motion. This happens as a result of the band is stretched all through the motion, inflicting elevated stress throughout the band that generates larger resistance because the vary of movement will increase. This type of dynamic resistance from elastic bands offers advantages over free weights that may be clearly demonstrated in workout routines such because the bench press. Since larger muscular drive happens within the preliminary section of the bench press, larger momentum is generated all through the remainder of the motion when utilizing free weights. As soon as the burden has constructed up momentum within the preliminary section, the muscle fibers don’t must be maximally activated to proceed transferring the burden all through the remainder of the motion, thus diminishing the coaching impact. Nonetheless, the rise in resistance generated from elastic bands negates the manufacturing of momentum – disallowing the momentum-driven propulsion of the bar via the remainder of the motion and creating a requirement for larger muscle exercise that finally stimulates larger muscle development. This impact from elastic resistance was clearly demonstrated in a examine by Jalal et al.1 that confirmed a 15% enhance in muscle exercise throughout elastic resistance coaching when in comparison with free-weight coaching. Furthermore, the comparability between elastic coaching and free-weight coaching additionally confirmed a significantly increased stage of muscle activation within the later phases of the motion – supporting the concept the ascending drive from elastic bands diminished momentum, inflicting muscle activation all through the whole concentric section of the motion.

Higher Muscle Stress

Elastic resistance naturally produces a larger quantity of stress on the muscle in comparison with free weights as a result of, as beforehand acknowledged, it has the capability to attenuate momentum – inflicting larger muscle exercise all through the whole motion, which successfully will increase the period of time the muscle is beneath stress. As well as, elastic bands additionally produce resistance unbiased of gravity, which fails to supply stress on the muscle throughout particular phases of sure lifts. For instance, free-weight biceps curls produce little or no muscle stress on the high of the concentric section as a result of distinguished horizontal motion of the burden that now not creates gravitational resistance. Then again, the exactly positioned use of elastic bands – that causes the elastic materials to be stretched for the whole motion – locations resistance on the biceps all through the whole vary of movement. The continual stress from elastic resistance coaching ought to stimulate larger muscle development, because it has been properly documented2 that larger time beneath stress potently will increase mechanical stress on the muscle cell. Elevated mechanical stress on the muscle cell produces extra muscle cell harm and/or elevated metabolic stress, which powerfully enhances lean muscle mass. Clearly demonstrating the flexibility of elastic bands to construct lean mass, a examine by Colado et al.3 discovered that elastic resistance is as efficient if not higher than free weights or resistance machines at rising each lean physique mass and power.

Muscle Harm Promotes Lean Muscle Development

Train-induced muscle harm stimulates many alternative mobile and molecular mechanisms that trigger the muscle cell to develop and develop into extra highly effective.4 For instance, muscle harm prompts the inflammatory response – inflicting totally different immunological cells, such because the macrophage, emigrate to the broken muscle tissue, consequently facilitating muscle cell restore and development.5 Moreover, exercise-induced muscle harm stimulates IGF-1 activation of the enzyme mTOR, which triggers muscle cell protein synthesis6, enhancing the hypertrophic response to resistance coaching.

Whereas muscle harm following eccentric contractions and bouts of unaccustomed train has been properly established7,8,9, solely just lately has a examine appeared on the affect that elastic resistance coaching has on muscle harm. This examine by Aboodarda et al.10 confirmed that elastic resistance coaching induced the same quantity of muscle harm when in comparison with Nautilus machine resistance. Whereas the underlying mechanism of those findings is unknown, a possible clarification for this consequence could have been uncovered in one other examine by Cronin et al.11, which demonstrated a substantial enhance in muscle exercise throughout the quadriceps muscle through the eccentric section of leg extensions whereas utilizing elastic resistance. As a result of the compelled lengthening of the muscle cell that happens through the eccentric section creates essentially the most in depth muscle harm12,13, this larger stage of muscular contraction through the eccentric section whereas utilizing elastic bands more than likely encourages appreciable muscle harm. Apparently, this larger stage of muscle exercise through the eccentric section of the leg extension could also be as a result of huge recoil drive generated from the absolutely stretched elastic band that happens proper initially of the eccentric section. Taken collectively, these outcomes display comparable potential between elastic bands and free weight/machine coaching to create enough muscle pressure that induces muscle harm and finally muscle development.

Elastic bands present a novel type of resistance that places appreciable stress on muscle tissue, inflicting appreciable beneficial properties in muscle mass and power that’s corresponding to free weights. As well as, as a result of the elastic resistance drive is so basically totally different from free-weight resistance, each approaches might be concurrently used throughout your exercise to create a mixture of forces that place larger preliminary pressure on the muscle whereas sustaining maximal pressure on the musculature all through the whole motion – producing exceptional beneficial properties in power and dimension.14


1. Jalal FY, et al. Resultant muscle torque and electromyographic exercise throughout excessive depth elastic resistance and free weight workout routines. EJSS 2013;13(2): p. 155-163.

2. Pinto RS, et al. Impact of vary of movement on muscle power and thickness. J Power Cond Res 2012;26(8): p. 2140-5.

3. Colado JC and Triplett NT. Results of a short-term resistance program utilizing elastic bands versus weight machines for sedentary middle-aged ladies. J Power Cond Res 2008;22(5): p. 1441-8.

4. Schoenfeld, B.J. Does exercise-induced muscle harm play a job in skeletal muscle hypertrophy? J Power Cond Res 2012;26(5): p. 1441-53.

5. McGinley C, Shafat A, and Donnelly AE. Does antioxidant vitamin supplementation defend towards muscle harm? Sports activities Med 2009;39(12): p. 1011-32.

6. Guillet C, et al. Impaired anabolic response of muscle protein synthesis is related to S6K1 dysregulation in aged people. Faseb J 2004;18(13): p. 1586-7.

7. Clarkson PM and Hubal MJ. Train-induced muscle harm in people. Am J Phys Med Rehabil, 2002;81(11 Suppl): p. S52-69.

8. Linnamo V, et al. Neuromuscular responses to explosive and heavy resistance loading. J Electromyogr Kinesiol 2000;10(6): p. 417-24.

9. Newham DJ, et al. Ultrastructural modifications after concentric and eccentric contractions of human muscle. J Neurol Sci 1983;61(1): p. 109-22.

10. Aboodarda SJ, et al. Muscle power and harm following two modes of variable resistance coaching. J Sports activities Sci Med, 2011;10: p. 635-642.

11. Cronin J, McNair PJ and Marshall RN. The results of bungy weight coaching on muscle operate and practical efficiency. J Sports activities Sci 2003;21(1): p. 59-71.

12. Clarkson PM, et al. Muscle soreness and serum creatine kinase exercise following isometric, eccentric, and concentric train. Int J Sports activities Med 1986;7(3): p. 152-5.

13. Gibala MJ, et al. Myofibrillar disruption following acute concentric and eccentric resistance train in strength-trained males. Can J Physiol Pharmacol 2000;78(8): p. 656-61.

14. Anderson CE, Sforzo GA and Sigg. The results of mixing elastic and free weight resistance on power and energy in JA athletes. J Power Cond Res 2008;22(2): p. 567-74.



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