Many in the fitness space simply treat resistance bands as a means to warm-up, stretch out, or throw at their workout buddies as if they were weaponized rubber bands…Jokes aside, resistance bands are extremely versatile tools that can be incorporated into an entire training program and be used for things like: rehab, strength, flexibility, and even weight loss.
Throughout this article, we’ll be discussing in detail whether or not resistance band workouts can be effective for weight loss, largely via the popular training methodology known as HIIT.
Resistance Band Workouts on Weightloss
So, does resistance band training work effectively for losing weight?
Resistance bands can certainly be an effective tool for weight loss when incorporated into a high-intensity interval training (HIIT) workout. Not only will you see an increase in post-exercise caloric burn known as EPOC (excess post-exercise oxygen consumption). Over time, you will also experience an increase in lean muscle, as well as a decrease in visceral fat.
You may be thinking, “what else is there to know?”
As everything in life goes, including health and fitness, it’s not that simple. How do you properly execute an effective HIIT workout regimen? What are the benefits and why? How long will it take to experience results? What resistant band exercises work best and what exercises are redundant?
Well, I’m glad you asked!
In what follows, all of these questions and more will be addressed. If you are overwhelmed, I assure you that you’re in the right place. While it certainly isn’t as simple as I’ve stated above, it’s also not as complicated as it may sound either!
Without further ado, let’s jump into it.
The Benefits of HIIT
Before getting into the benefits of incorporating HIIT into your lifestyle, we should first touch on the benefits of utilizing resistance bands…
As you may already know, resistance bands are widely affordable exercise bands that come in a variety of shapes, sizes, colors, and qualities. Because of the accessibility of them, resistance bands can be easily incorporated into just about any exercise that you can imagine. This is a huge advantage not only for the ease-of-use, but for its versatility of use (i.e. difficulty level, transfer of use, etc.).
Whether or not you’re doing a bodyweight movement, OR you’ve graduated to a weighted movement, resistance bands can be added for greater difficulty, both on the eccentric and concentric portion of the movement.
Now for the powerful benefits of high-intensity interval training:
• Decrease in FAT
In a study done on high intensity intermittent exercise (a variation of HIIT) and the
relative effects on body composition (i.e. weight loss), it was shown that the group given a 12-week workout regimen (3x per week) experienced a 17% reduction in visceral fat! Need I say more?!
• Increase in EPOC
Arguably the most incredible side-effect of HIIT is a process known as excess post-
exercise oxygen consumption, or EPOC for short. Without getting too scientific, EPOC is a biological process whereby your body continues to burn energy (or calories) for up to 48 hours post-exercise. Do you need to be pinched? Because you’re not dreaming!
The best news of all, though, is the fact that EPOC is not determined by the duration of your workout, but by the intensity. This means that you don’t need to partake in an exhausting 1-hour workout to take advantage of the effects, as long as your intensity
is kept high.
• Increase in HGH
If that isn’t enough to convince you that HIIT is optimal, check this out!
In a study reviewing the human growth hormonal response to a high-intensity exercise (cycle ergometer sprint), it was reported that HIIT can increase HGH serum concentration up to a whopping 450%. Yes, you heard that correctly – four five zero.
The benefit of HGH, you ask? In short, higher HGH levels helps boost metabolism, burn fat, and build muscle mass.
If you’ve gotten this far, you would know that we’ve covered whether or not resistance band training is effective for weight loss (ps: it is!), as well as the benefits of HIIT. It’s not enough, however, to just know the answer. We must also have knowledge on how to optimize that answer.
Let’s now get into how we can optimize our weight loss with resistance bands and HIIT.
The Best Resistance Band Exercises for HIIT
The best resistance band exercises for weight-loss are those performed as part of a compound movement. The reason for this is not only because it requires both your upper and lower body to perform the movement, but because it is the most efficient and effective way to increase your heart rate, intensity, and thus your weight loss results.
• Squat to Press: Otherwise known as a thruster, a squat-to-press with a resistance band simply requires you to place your feet shoulder-width apart whilst standing on the band with your feet, and gripping the opposing side of the band with your hands. To perform this movement, squat to parallel, stand tall, and follow through by pressing the band overhead, and repeat.
• Squat and Row: Simply tie the resistance band onto a sturdy surface. Upon grabbing the band with both hands, take one big step back to gain resistance in the band. Initiate the movement by squatting to parallel with your arms out straight in front of you. Follow that by standing tall and simultaneously tucking your elbows back into a row, and repeat.
• Jump Squat: A jump squat requires the smaller variation of band that is about 30cm in length. Wrap the band around you ankles, or just above the knee. Engage in a jumping pulse squat whilst staying balanced and forcing your knees outward pressing into each side of the band.
• Press up: Otherwise known as a resisted, or banded pushup, a press up is simply a push-up involving a resistance band. A great exercise to build muscle and burn fat.
• High-Knees: Although this movement is a touch more advanced due to its requirement for running fundamentals and stronger stabilization skills, its still
doable for most levels of fitness. Simply tie the band to a stable surface and wrap the other end of the band around your waist. By facing outward, take one big step forward to create resistance in the band. Initiate by simply running in the spot with high-knees and balanced control.
All of these exercises can be performed one after another for 20-30 seconds at a time, followed by a 20 second rest. Repeat the circuit 3-5 times and you’ve got yourself a HIIT workout!
Incorporating Resistance Bands into Ab Exercises
Not only can ab exercises become quite redundant and boring, they are often performed in isolation, not recognizing that this may be the most ineffective way to build abs. If you want to be efficient and effective, consider performing more compound movements. You may not believe it, but compound movements engage your entire posterior chain, targeting your core in the process.
Before diving into some of the ways you can begin to incorporate resistance bands into your ab exercises, I want to touch on abs and its relation to fat loss.
It is a common thought among amateurs that “if I do sit-ups and planks everyday, I’ll have a six pack in no time!”. However, unfortunately that isn’t how it works. Yes, of course, you’ll likely build a stronger core than you had had previously. However, no matter how many ab workouts that you do, they will not show if you have a significant fat percentage.
With that being said, it’s simply my intention to note that it’s just as important, if not more important, to partake in your weight loss journey as it is to partake in ab exercises, for example. In other words, if you’re concerned about strengthening your core and building a six pack, focus on your weight loss journey and the abs will come.
Now that that is out of the way, let’s explore some of the ways that you can incorporate resistance bands to make your ab exercises more effective.
• Lying leg raises: adding a mini resistance band to wrap around your ankles during lying leg raises will dramatically increase the difficulty level and, in turn, effectiveness of this exercise.
• Mountain Climbers: Again, using the mini resistance band around your toe box to create resistance in the knee drive of the mountain climber exercise will not only increase the intensity but will, in turn, build a stronger core, and burn more fat in the process.
• The Plank Shuffle: You may be wondering how to incorporate a resistance band into an isolation movement like a plank. With this one, you simply wrap the mini resistance band around your wrists and begin to shuffle to the left, and back to the right, all in a slow and controlled manner. Repeat for 30 seconds and you’ve got yourself a burner!
How Long Should A HIIT Workout Last?
This question is the million dollar question if I ever saw one…
While it’s a topic that will be argued until the cows come home, it’s a question I’m willing to answer. Some will say a HIIT workout can last as little as 4 minutes in
duration (known as a tabata), while others will debate you need 60 minutes to optimize the effectiveness.
Here’s the truth – It depends.
Factors that need to be considered when discussing how long one should exercise for with intensity includes:
• experience level
• health status
• injury status
• Just to name a few…
Let’s consider that you’re a beginner who’s activity level was previously minimal, yet your health status is average or above… It would be a generally accepted prescription to begin with 20-30 minutes of exercise, 3 times per week and progress from there. Given the level of intensity HIIT requires, however, and the elevation in heart rate it so strikingly provides, always listen to your body (or your trainer if you have one!).
Better yet, get a heart rate monitor!
I digress. Here’s what the experts say on the matter: “Typically, a HIIT workout will range from 10-30 minutes in duration.”
Should I Exercise (HIIT) Everyday?
Listen to your body. Listen to your body. One more time? Listen to your body.
Look, can you hypothetically exercise everyday and be the hero of your own movie, exercising everyday two times a day with veracious intensity? Sure. Is the likelihood of injury sky high? Yep. Will you start out inspired and quickly spiral into burnout mode and give-up? You bet!
According to the experts, recovery is the single most important part of any exercise program or regimen. When speaking of HIIT, recovery is even more important. It is said that you should give your body up to 48 hours of rest and recovery following a high- intensity exercise of 30-60 minutes.
The main point I want to drive home, especially when we’re on the topic of weight loss, is that it’s a game of longevity, and a very important and personal one at that. It’s understandable to want to exercise as much as you can, and that’s a great attitude, however, if you truly want results to last – play the long game.
• If you’re a beginner, start with 20-30 minutes of exercise, 3 times per week.
• If you’re an intermediate, progress to 30-45 minutes of exercise, 4 times per week.
• If you’re experienced, begin to test yourself and aim for 30-60 minutes, 4-6 times per week.
These recommendations don’t all have to be, or should be for that matter, HIIT. Find what routine works best for you and stick to it religiously. THAT is ultimately the best approach.
PubMed: HIIT on Body Composition
Ace Fitness: EPOC
Healthline: Benefits of HIIT