Resistance Exercise

Originally used to train older adults in nursing homes, flexible resistance bands now provide exercise options for exercisers and athletes. The more you know about resistance bands, rubberized cords and the machines that use them, the better you’ll be able to choose the method that’s right for you.

It’s all about finding the resistance that matches the exercise you need. Resistance bands offer no resistance at first. They start adding more and more resistance as they are stretched until they reach their limit. The resistance adjusts again as the bands return to resting position. Resistance bands offer very little resistance when first stretched (for the first 10-30 degrees of their range of motion). It is important to feel resistance early in the stretch, and this is more easily accomplished with single rubber bands than with some resistance machines.


  • They travel well. Because resistance bands can be easily packed in a suitcase when traveling, these exercises can be done in a hotel room or car if no gym is available.
  • They increase coordination. Holding tension throughout rubber band resistance exercise forces your body to stabilize, use more muscle groups and gain coordination and balance.
  • Variety. Resistance band training can allow movement to change in multiple
  • directions. Different from weights, where a movement is limited to the number of reps one can accomplish, changing your position with a resistance band changes how an exercise feels and how your body adapts and works.
  • They’re affordable. With prices ranging from $6 to $20, depending on how many purchased and where you buy them, resistance bands can be a cost-effective solution to enhance and change your physical activity.
  • They’re good for all fitness levels. From beginners to advanced athletes, resistance bands can be utilized in a variety of different ways, with basic beginner moves and more advanced maneuvers with intensity for a higher level of training.


Every exercise can be illustrated by a curve showing the force used over a range of motion. Variations among exercises and individuals can affect the shape of these curves as well as the timing and degree of force used in each exercise. Exercise loading should match the strength curve to ensure that appropriate force is applied to the muscle.

Republished with permission of the American College of Sports Medicine. Copyright © 2011 American College of Sports Medicine.

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