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Equipment Guides Health and Lifestyle

Can Resistance Bands Build Muscle? Are They Effective?

Have you considered buying resistance bands, but you aren’t sure if they will actually help you build muscle? If so, you’re not alone. Many people wonder about the prospect of using resistance bands and how effective they can actually be in helping you achieve your fitness goals. If you’ve found yourself wondering these same things, you came to the right place. This article offers an in-depth guide to resistance bands, including what they are, how to use them, the pros and cons of using them, and best practices for using resistance bands to gain muscle.

resistance bands on a power rack

What Is a Resistance Band?

A resistance band is a stretchy band or rope usually made of latex or rubber. They come in a variety of different resistances, i.e. some are very easy to stretch while others “resist” more, or are more difficult to stretch. Resistance bands can be used for a number of different exercises, and they allow people to work out by using the natural resistance of the band instead of lifting their own body weight or heavy weights. They are a very safe option for training because they tend not to overstrain any muscle groups. 

Resistance bands are also a popular choice for people who have to travel a lot or work out on the go. The small bands can easily be packed into a backpack or suitcase and you can use them to work out pretty much anywhere. Plus, resistance bands tend to be inexpensive, compared to a lot of other fitness equipment, which makes them an appealing choice. 

How Do Resistance Bands Work?

Resistance bands work by providing a resistance for you to push or pull against during your training. They are different from weights in that instead of being a weight that you lift, pull, or push, they create tension throughout your reps and sets. As you pull the band further, it gets tighter and harder to move throughout the movement. 

Can Resistance Bands Build Muscle?

If you are looking to start building muscles without spending long hours at the gym, resistance bands can be a really great option. Especially considering that the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services recommends that all adults do strength training exercises two times a week. You can do strength training in a number of different ways – including using resistance bands. They are an excellent option for people just starting out on the fitness journey and looking to build and tone muscles early on. 

To build muscle size, you have to overload the muscle with weight or resistance. The overload creates small tears in the muscle fiber (hence the term “getting ripped”) that allow new muscle tissue to grow. Lifting weights, lifting your own body weight, and using resistance bands helps to overload your muscles and build them up. The International Journal of Sports Physical Therapy found that resistance bands were just as effective as a weight machine in activating the quadriceps during the concentric or “up” phase of a knee extension.

Progressive Overload

The way that muscles get bigger and bigger is through a process called progressive overload. We tear the muscle fibers and the body repairs them bigger and stronger than before. As we progress, we need bigger weights or more resistance and a variety of exercises to keep growing. 

The body is responsible for doing all the repairs, and it uses hormones, such as testosterone, to do a great deal of this work. But we also have to give it extra fuel, in the form of calories and protein, to make sure it has the energy to repair the muscle damage. 

If you get enough resistance from the bands to contract your muscles beyond a point they have gotten used to – and you are consuming enough protein and calories, then you should be able to build muscles. Up to a point. 

Practicing Progressive Overload with Resistance Bands

In order to make sure that you are building muscle and not just toning, you have to keep forcing your body to adapt to more stress or tension. Here are some ways to do so with resistance bands:

  • Using higher tension bands: As mentioned earlier, resistance bands come in varying levels of resistance. Over time, you will want to increase the resistance level so that you continue to build muscle instead of just toning your muscles. 
  • Increase reps: Continuously increasing the number of reps you do with resistance bands will promote muscle breakdown. 
  • Increase sets: In addition to increasing reps per set during your training, you should also increase the number of sets you are doing for each exercise. 
Resistance bands

Benefits of Using Resistance Bands

Training with resistance bands is much different than lifting weights. With bands, your muscle is constantly under tension and contracted. This makes it a much more effective and high-quality workout. Bands also use stabilizing muscles, which create a more well-rounded workout than just exercising the big muscle groups. They can be added to body weight exercises, such as doing banded push-ups, to increase the intensity of the exercise. Let’s look at some of the other main benefits of using resistance bands.

Portable

Resistance bands are small, lightweight, and easy to pack, making them an excellent choice for travel. You can take them on trips with you or store them at home for easy workouts wherever you are. 

Inexpensive

Resistance bands are also much less expensive than hand-weights, barbells, and power racks. You can also save money on a gym membership by using resistance bands at home. 

Less Chance of Injury

Lifting weights is undoubtedly a great way to build muscle. But they also come with a higher chance of injury than resistance bands. It is possible to drop weights on yourself as well as injure vulnerable spots on your body, such as wrists, elbows, and knees. Resistance bands make you much less prone to injury during your workouts. They are also great for healing injuries because they can add resistance to different movements without putting undue stress on your joints. 

Stabilization

Resistance bands can be used for their own exercises or you can add them to your existing workout routine to promote instability in your muscle movements. This is a great way to bring stabilizing muscles into the mix. For example, if you are lifting a barbell, the gravity of the weight pulls your muscle back down to the starting position. With bands, there is no gravity acting on your muscle, so the stabilizing muscles need to jump in and offer help. 

Help with Stretching

Resistance bands not only build muscle but can also be used to help you stretch and lengthen your muscles. Attaching resistance bands to door handles, legs of furniture pieces, or your own body can help you use the resistance to stretch out tight muscles – a key component of building muscle and maintaining a healthy body. 

Concentration

Using weight machines or benches that focus on one large muscle group can make it easy to zone out during a workout. Resistance bands require a lot more focused concentration, fostering an improved mind-body connection. 

resistance bands

Cons Of Using Resistance Bands

Just like with other forms of exercise, there are cons to using resistance bands, too. 

Bands Can Snap

It’s not common, especially when bands are used correctly, but resistance bands are subject to snapping or tearing. They are usually used on their own without other equipment for this reason. 

Hard to Measure

When you lift weights, you know exactly how much weight you are lifting. This makes it easy to track your progress. When you use a resistance band, however, it’s not that easy to measure just how much resistance you are getting. The resistance level depends on your input, which tends to rise and fall depending on how much energy you have or how weak your muscles have gotten toward the end of a workout, etc. 

Not a Full Workout On Their Own

Resistance bands are an excellent addition to any fitness training program. But they don’t serve as a replacement for weights. They are meant to supplement your resistance/strength training because they work muscles that you don’t use as often as your larger muscle groups. But you’re not going to get a chiseled all-over body just from using resistance bands on their own. 

It is absolutely possible to build muscle with resistance bands – especially if you are a beginning weightlifter. Once you have progressed into further stages of muscle building, resistance bands are better suited for toning muscle than for building it. Toning doesn’t necessitate the same level of muscle breakdown as building muscle. It’s more about maintaining the status quo of the muscle fibers than breaking them down. 

Word of caution…

Like with any exercise equipment, remember that resistance bands can break down over time due to normal wear and tear. Make sure that you inspect the bands often to see that they are safe and that the latex or rubber doesn’t have any tears in it. Also, make sure that you always release a resistance band slowly when it is under tension. Suddenly releasing the band can cause it to snap back, which can cause serious injury if you aren’t careful. 

Are you shopping for resistance bands?

Ready to supercharge your workout? Check out our heavy resistance bands, designed to meet all of your strength training needs. These durable latex bands are the perfect addition to your home gym. They can aid in pull-up assistance, add resistance to stretches and bodyweight exercises and add resistance to the barbell for various lifts.

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Health and Lifestyle

Powerlifting vs. Strongman: 12 Differences You Need to Know

In the world of weightlifting, the two words you’ll probably hear most often are “powerlifting” and “strongman.” Although you might see the terms used interchangeably, each refers to a specific type and weightlifting style. When comparing powerlifting vs. strongman, each offers different results and requires specific training routines.

Interestingly, when comparing powerlifting vs. strongman, you’ll find that both disciplines often use the same equipment, but it’s used differently. For example, powerlifters and strongman lifters use dumbbells, barbells, and power racks to achieve their strength and training goals. Fortunately for home gym users, much of this equipment can be used interchangeably for powerlifting and strongman routines.

Powerlifting and strongman are excellent fitness regimens and great for cardio, fat burning, and body sculpting. Plus, if you want to take your athleticism to the next level, both regimens allow you to compete at various achievement levels. If you’re considering powerlifting vs. strongman and wondering which style is right for you, here’s a look at 12 differences between these two classic weightlifting styles.

person working out

1. Powerlifting has its own specific goals

In powerlifting, the main goal is to increase your ability to lift the heaviest weights, using three primary lift techniques (which we’ll discuss below). Powerlifters typically use only a minimum of repetitions, motions, and movements to achieve this.

2. Strongman has different goals from powerlifting

With strongman training, the primary goals are to increase raw power, strength, and endurance. To accomplish this, it’s necessary to build muscle and stamina through more repetitions, as well as a variety of movements.

person using a yoke

3. Powerlifting relies on basic resistance training

If you’re considering powerlifting vs. strongman, you’ll need to know what type of training is involved. Powerlifting depends primarily on resistance training to build up strength. This type of training often uses lower rep counts than strongman training, although the loads are still extremely heavy.

When lifting heavy barbells, it’s crucial to protect yourself from strain and injury. For ultimate protection, check out these Safety Squat Olympic Bars. They’re constructed with a built-in padded harness that enables you to lift more weight while decreasing the strain on your shoulders and back.

4. Strongman is based more on endurance and power

Strongman training focuses on activities that build core stability, strength endurance, and mighty functional strength. Toward this end, strongman training uses more reps and movements that might involve carrying or moving extremely heavy loads.

To increase raw power, strongman training sometimes requires different types of barbells that you might not find in a commercial gym. For example, these Axle Barbells from Titan Fitness are often used in strongman training. They weigh a comfortable 24 pounds yet have a hefty weight capacity of 880 pounds.

5. Powerlifting has specific key components

When looking at powerlifting vs. strongman, it’s essential to know that their primary components are fundamentally different. The key components of powerlifting are the squat, the bench press, and the deadlift. Throughout the training, the goal is to increase overall strength while performing these movements. As you build strength, you’ll want to invest in heavier barbells, such as these Blues City Power Bars. They weigh around 45 pounds. And have a weight capacity of 1,500 pounds. Thanks to their rigid design, they’re built to accommodate the extremely heavy weights necessary for competitive powerlifting.

person working out in home gym

6. Strongman uses different movement-based components

Unlike powerlifting, strongman relies heavily on crucial components such as pulling, pushing, and pressing heavy objects. This is because strongman competitions feature a wide range of specially created obstacle-themed events. In each of these competitions, lifters have to achieve lifts and carries, moving heavy objects to and from designated locations within a set time limit.

7. Powerlifting uses progressive overload training

Powerlifting uses a training technique known as progressive overload. To achieve this, you’ll want to increase your performance boundaries gradually. For example, if you can bench press 75 pounds on Monday, you’ll want to push it to 80 pounds in a later session.

Powerlifters use barbells with bumper plates to increase their weights. Bumper plates can be costly, but at Titan Fitness, we offer them at a wide range of affordable prices. For example, check out these LB Economy Bumper Plates, available in various convenient weight-coordinated colors.

8. Strongman uses progressive overload in a different way

Progressive overload techniques are also used in strongman training but are adapted differently. In strongman lifting, progressive overload can be readjusted by adding more reps, changing tempo and pace, and decreasing rest time, as your trainer recommends. In addition, strongman training includes a variety of movement exercises, including distance walking with heavy weights, hoisting logs overhead, and giant tire flipping.

For this type of specialized training, these EZ Curl Rubber Fixed Barbells are ideal for your home gym. They have built-in weights, so you can follow a progressive overload regimen without having to change plates.  

9. Powerlifters aren’t typically as “shredded” as strongman lifters

When considering powerlifting vs. strongman training, you may have noticed that powerlifters usually don’t have the massive, muscle-heavy, “shredded” bodybuilder physiques like strongmen lifters. Of course, powerlifters can get a great physique with good muscle definition if they train hard enough. However, if you want a classic, Atlas-style shredded bodybuilder physique, strongman training is better for achieving those oversized, ripped muscles you see in the competitions.  

10. Powerlifting competitions focus on three events

Powerlifting competitions focus on the three basic components of powerlifting: squats, bench presses, and deadlifts. The lifter is allowed three attempts in a typical competition, with a maximum single repetition for each lift. The most successful lift attempts are added to calculate the lifter’s final score.

Person using a yoke outside

11. Strongman has a wide variety of competitive events

Strongman has a designated roster of competitive goals and challenges designed solely for strongman events such as the World’s Strongest Man (WSM) competition. Here are some of the most popular strongman challenges:

Atlas Stones

Atlas Stones requires competitors to lift five heavy round stones, each weighing 220-352 pounds, and place them atop five high platforms along a course that’s 16-33 feet long. The contestant who completes the task in the least amount of time is declared the winner.

Farmer’s Walk

One of the most popular strongman events, Farmer’s Walk, requires competitors to walk at a specified distance while carrying extremely heavy items such as refrigerators. In some events, competitors often carry multiple items, weighing as much as 350 pounds.

Vehicle Pull

As the name implies, the Vehicle Pull involves the competitor wearing a harness and pulling a heavy vehicle with a rope. These vehicles typically include trucks, buses, train cars, and airplanes.

Deadlift

While most powerlifters know about deadlifts, the strongman version takes it to a new level. The lift is still done in one strong pull from the floor, but lifters must perform multiple repetitions of the move with extremely heavy weights. This shows off the lifter’s overall endurance as well as strength.

Fingal’s Fingers

Introduced comparatively recently in 2000, Fingal’s Fingers requires competitors to lift a series of progressively heavy hinged poles (or “fingers”), then flip them to the opposite side. As with many strongman events, the competitor who achieves the highest score in the shortest time is the winner.

12. Strongmen lifters often have coaches or trainers

While it’s not necessary to have a coach or a trainer to prepare for a strongman competition, the experts strongly advise having one. This is because each event has strict protocols and regulations that must be followed, and coaches can help competitors strategize these rules for maximum effect. Also, coaches can share time-honored techniques for achieving the highest possible scores on each event.

Special coaches aren’t as essential for powerlifters because the events aren’t as varied but focus on the three primary lifting techniques. However, a good coach or trainer can help you optimize your abilities, correct bad habits, and hone your technique to help you ace your next powerlifting competition.

Powerlifting vs. Strongman: Which should you choose?    

The experts agree: Strongman training provides an excellent foundation for powerlifting. With the strength and raw power you’ll develop through strongman training, you’ll be able to transition into powerlifting easily. Likewise, the opposite is true — powerlifting can provide great muscle buildup to help you transition easily to strongman training.

Powerlifting vs. strongman: Which discipline is easier? To be honest, both have their challenges and advantages. However, if you’re using a commercial gym, you might not find some of the specialized equipment you’ll need for strongman training. For example, you’ll find the barbells and dumbbells needed for both disciplines, but you probably won’t have access to Atlas Stones.   

That’s why lifters around the country know that the best way to train is to build your own home gym. You can customize your equipment and add specialized pieces you’ll need, such as this rugged Atlas Stone Platform from Titan Fitness. And if you decide to join the thousands of lifters who train for both powerlifting and strongman, you’ll be able to maintain the right equipment for both disciplines in your own customized home training space.

Whichever discipline you decide to pursue, Titan Fitness has you covered with a wide range of powerlifting and Olympic barbells, specialty bars, power racks, dumbbells, and just about everything else you need for your home gym. Titan Fitness offers premium quality equipment without the premium costs, so you’ll be able to equip your gym fully and still stay within your budget. Plus, Titan Fitness has free shipping on everything and offers a one-year warranty so that you can buy with confidence.

If you’d like to know more about buying the right equipment for your powerlifting, strongman training, or daily exercise routine, visit Titan Fitness. We’ll provide you with the equipment you need so you can create your dream gym at a price you can afford.

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Health and Lifestyle How To's

How to Build Your Own Workout Routine: Plans, Schedules, and Exercises

A customized workout schedule can be a fun and rewarding experience – not to mention a goal many people strive to achieve. Finding the right combination of cardio exercise, strength training, and rest days can help you fine-tune your body to get into optimal shape. But many people trying to get on a regular schedule have many questions about how to build a workout routine that gets results.

When you are just getting started on the path to designing your workout program, there are a ton of variables to consider. What kinds of exercises are best for your body? How many sets and reps do you need to gain muscle? How many days off should you take? How quickly should you increase the amount of weight you are lifting, the length of time spent training, etc.? The list goes on and on! This guide takes an in-depth look at everything you need to know about building a workout routine so you can get started on your own.

Whether you are a seasoned weightlifter looking to update your exercise schedule or designing your first workout plan, read on to learn everything you need to know about building a workout routine that works for you.

Person working out outside

How to Build a Workout Routine

When designing a workout routine, there are a few key questions you will want to consider. 

What are your goals?

First things first: what do you want to accomplish with your workout routine? Are you trying to lose weight? Do you want to build muscle? Are you training for a 5k or a marathon? Whatever your goals, you should write them down and keep them top of mind so you know what you want to achieve. Your goals will direct you on how to build a workout routine that gets you where you want to go. 

When creating goals of any kind – but specifically when it comes to fitness goals – try using the SMART method. SMART is an acronym for:

Specific: Make sure your goals outline what you are trying to accomplish in a clear and concise way.

Measurable: Your goals must allow you to measure your progress. For example, maybe you want to lose 5 pounds by a specific date. Or, perhaps you would like to be able to do ten bench presses with a certain amount of weight. Whatever your goals are, you need to make sure you can connect them to tangible progress markers. 

Attainable: Make sure your goals are realistic. Depending on your body weight and BMI, losing weight, gaining muscle mass, etc., will take different amounts of time. 

Relevant: Keep your goals relevant to your interests, likes/dislikes, abilities, etc. For example, if you hate running or have a leg injury, setting a goal to run x amount of miles won’t be relevant. 

Timely: Make a timeline for your goals that ensures that you stick to a steady schedule without putting yourself at risk for injury. 

What has worked in the past? 

If a particular type of training has worked for you in the past, the odds are pretty good that you can continue with that training and see results. Consider the types of exercise that made you feel excited about training – and the types that you didn’t enjoy. That way, you will have a baseline of activities to start with. 

person benching

How much time do you have to devote to your workout goals? 

You also have to determine the level of commitment that you can devote to your goals and training. This will be primarily based on your work schedule, lifestyle, family life, social obligations, etc. Training 3-5 days per week is a good goal for most people. Once you have figured out how many days a week you will train, you can start to schedule your days to design a training split and training frequency. 

Training frequency

Training frequency refers to how often you will train a muscle. Usually, people start with training a muscle group 2-3 times per week. This means 12-18 total sets per week. Of course, it’s a good idea to experiment with the amount of training and sets you do in order to find the best results and track your progress early on. 

Training Split

Training split refers to splitting up which workouts will train which muscle groups. If you train 2-3 days per week, you might consider doing a full body split. This means that each day you work out, you are working on your full body instead of just one set of muscle groups. If you train more frequently, you will want to factor that into how to build a workout routine. You might spend two days on your upper body, two days on your lower body, etc. 

How long will you give yourself to reach your goals?

Make sure that you set realistic timeframes for gaining muscle or losing weight. If you’re trying to lose weight, the best way is to maintain a calorie deficit by consuming 250-500 fewer calories per day than your normal calorie intake. This should result in losing 1-2 pounds per week. 

If your goal is to gain muscle mass, aim for a calorie surplus by adding 250-500 calories to your normal calorie intake. This results in gaining lean muscle mass of about .5 pounds per week. 

What exercise and movements should you include?

There are so many different exercises to choose from – it can be overwhelming when you are figuring out how to build a workout routine. The most important factor for strength, muscle gain, and general fitness is to create a workout program that builds a foundation for success in the future. Here are a few of the most important considerations when you’re deciding how to build a workout routine.

Bodyweight movements

Bodyweight movements are pretty much just what they sound like. They are exercises where you are moving your own body weight vs. lifting or pressing weights. Developing a firm grasp of bodyweight movements can help you develop a better form in other movements. The main bodyweight movements include push-ups, pull-ups, lunges, single-leg squats, jumping, and more. 

Compound exercises

Compound movements are key for building muscle. These are movements that stress multiple muscle groups at the same time. This means they involve multiple joints flexing, extending, and/or rotating in unison with each other. They train more muscles at once, making them more time-efficient and increasing loading stress. Common compound movements include the deadlift, rows, and the overhead press. 

person performing a barbell squat

However, compound lifting can also have some disadvantages to watch out for. It can be difficult to isolate muscles, muscle fatigue can sometimes make the movements less effective, and it can be challenging to address movement imbalances. 

Accessory movements

Accessory movements exist to support the main lifts in your workout and help support your growth over time. They add additional balance, coordination, and strength to your workout goals. Accessory movements are a great way to add variety, creativity, and fun to your workouts. 

It’s Time to Begin Your Fitness Journey

When you’re deciding how to build a workout routine that works for your body, it’s hard to go wrong with a full-body program. It can help you establish a workout routine while also keeping your schedule super simple, and they let you train the main muscle groups multiple days per week. Full-body workouts are also great if your goal for working out is for your general health rather than for aesthetics. And another perk is that they require much less time, whether you are working out in a gym or in your home gym. 

At Titan Fitness, we have all the equipment you need to achieve your workout goals. Our home gym equipment can help you figure out how to build a workout routine that makes your body look and feel great in no time.