Ditch the Bands

Mischele Stevens


Barrie, Canada

Triathlon, Endurance Sports


Stop the resistance band insanity! The Instagram famous fitness models will show you plenty of exercises using a resistance band and tell you that it will tone your body parts. Can we check their credentials first and see if they are even educated enough to know what they are talking about?


After 16 years in the fitness industry, I have seen some crazy things that make no sense but that doesn’t mean they were useful or necessary. The problem I have now is the number of people that use these asinine bands because someone “fit” on Instagram told them to.



Do not mistake my disdain of bands at the local gym over the prescribed therapeutic practice by a trained physiotherapist or athletic trainer. My highly educated athletic trainer friend Kathey uses them for her patients in cases like shoulder rotation rehab. So, if someone exceptionally smarter than I agrees with me in their usage, that works for me.


It Matters How Bands Are Used

In my personal training practice and years of teaching yoga, I have used bands for assisted stretching both for the muscular benefits and to help with certain yoga poses. You are going to ask me about using them for assisting with pull-ups, aren’t you?


Well, bands have a use for that too, but in moderation. It’s easy to start off with them and work the form and muscles of a pull-up when you are brand new to pull-ups. But what happens when you have been doing them for months and can’t figure out why you aren’t progressing in your pull-ups. The band is keeping you from getting better.


There are other ways to build the strength for unassisted pull-ups. Try jumping pull-ups in the early stages and whenever you have high reps to do at your CrossFit box. Pull-up negatives are a fantastic way to engage the lat muscles and build crazy strength but don’t be discouraged when your negative hold is only for 0.00001 of a second. Don’t forget your supplementary weight lifting exercises to build your back strength.


Now, let’s discuss the reason why you think you need to use them besides to look like you are up to date with the latest fitness trend. Please keep in mind that you can’t spot reduce those pesky saddlebags so sidestepping with them around your thighs will only create a tightening of the gluteus medius and/or IT band.


There’s a potential injury from an excessive tight muscle waiting to happen. But wait, you could develop those muscles and make that area even bigger than you think it is now! I have never known anyone that will compliment you on how big your outer thighs are.


Some of the other moves I have seen defy logic considering that they decrease the range of motion of the muscles they are supposed to be strengthening or they are completely useless for the exercise that you are doing. Not to mention the fact that you get inconsistent tension using a band to actually build strength.


There Are Better Options

There is a reason that dumbbells, cables, and bodyweight exercises have been around for eons and are still used today—they work.


So, ditch the bands before you realize they aren’t doing what you want and that the Insta-fit culture is just out to chase followers and likes. And don't forget to choose your fitness professional by their education, experience, and sound advice.

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