Do Resistance Bands Build Muscle? Are Bands Effective?

Do Resistance Bands Build Muscle? Are Bands Effective?

A set of resistance bands is cheap and compact but are they any good to build muscle or should you stick to other types of equipment for that?

Resistance bands are quite effective to build muscle as long as you follow a good workout routine and program. Resistance bands can be used to train the whole body and can provide plenty of resistance to challenge your muscles. Bands can be stacked for more resistance if necessary. 

Below we’ll go into the details of building muscle with resistance bands a bit more.

Do Resistance Bands Build Muscle?

Resistance bands can be used to build a good amount of muscle. If you do the right exercises with the right resistance for enough repetitions, resistance bands can build muscle and a good overall physique. 

To build muscle you need to put the muscles under tension and take them through a full range of motion. This creates micro-tears in the muscles which then gets repaired by the body bigger and stronger. That makes the muscle bigger and stronger. 

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Image of a man using an anchored resistance band

The resistance band provides the tension you need to accomplish this. That means as long as you use a band that’s heavy enough and do the movement enough times, you will build muscle. Of course it’s necessary to have different resistance bands for different muscles and exercises since not all muscles need the same resistance. 

Resistance bands come in different ‘weights’ and can be stacked for more resistance as well. The heaviest bands top out at about 200 lbs. However, that’s the peak resistance. If there’s any slack in the band, the resistance will be 0. Just think of resistance bands as big rubber bands. The first part is very easy to stretch and the further you go, the more resistance you get.

That’s why you will usually see a range of resistance on a band. For example; 5-15 lbs. or 40-80 lbs. That’s the range from just tighter than slack to the maximum resistance that band provides.

Of course you have to know which movements to do to target the muscles you want but that’s not any different than with gym machines or free weights. 

Are Resistance Bands Effective To Build Muscle?

Resistance bands can build muscle, but is it an efficient way of doing so? 

Efficient can mean different things. If you’re talking about space efficiency, resistance bands are very hard to beat in that regard. Kettlebells might come close though. Resistance bands can be stored in a small bag that fits almost anywhere. 

Economically, bands are also very hard to beat how much you get for your money. A full set of high quality bands can be had for well under $50, which is much cheaper than any other type of exercise equipment (again except for maybe the kettlebell). 

If you’re thinking about how quickly you build muscle, it’s a little less obvious. A good part of how much and how quickly you grow muscle is in your workout program and routine. If you go hard and do it the right way, you will grow more muscle faster than if you move your arms twice a month with the lightest weight.

Free weights are often touted as the best way to build muscle. However, your muscles don’t know what kind of resistance they are moving so if the intensity is the same, the stimulus will be the same. Resistance bands do feel a bit of different since the resistance gets stronger the further you get into the movement. Free weights don’t have that so in some ways, resistance bands can help you get stronger in ways free weights can’t.

If you work out with the same resistance and intensity, resistance bands can build the same amount of muscle as with free weights and machines. However, for heavy weights, free weights tend to be more practical. 

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Free weights like barbells can also be loaded heavier than resistance bands. You could stack many bands until you get a heavy weight but that’s just not very practical to do.

Can You Get a Good Physique With Only Resistance Bands?

Can you build the body you want with just a set of bands? 

Resistance bands can provide a full body workout with plenty of resistance which means you can build a good physique with just a set of resistance bands. It’s all a matter of following a good workout routine and program. 

It’s important to do a full body workout and focus on the muscles you want to grow more on top of that. 

If you want to build a lot of muscle, at some point resistance bands aren’t really going to cut it anymore. Very heavy bands are just not as practical to use. And since progressive overload is necessary to keep growing, after a certain point, free weights are the way to go.

For beginners that is quite a way down the road though.

Building Muscle and Maintaining While Traveling

One way a set of resistance bands is especially useful is for traveling. While traveling, we often lose our normal workout routine and the hotel gym isn’t always all that useful. 

However, if you throw a set of bands in your suitcase, you now can do all the exercises you need to, to keep building muscle while traveling. And if you don’t feel like doing a very tough workout while on the road, bands can also help you maintain the strength and mass you already have. 

There are a lot of resistance band sets available that come with a little travel pouch, door anchor and all the things you need to get a full workout. They don’t cost much and provide a lot. 


Hey, I'm Matt. Welcome to After working out in many different gyms for almost 20 years and helping people build their own home gyms, i've learned a few things i'd like to share with you.

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