January 8, 2013 — Despite the affordability, versatility, portability, and popularity of elastic resistance exercise, there has been debate over its use for increasing muscle hypertrophy and strength.
This debate persists despite several studies finding that elastic resistance is as effective if not better than isotonic resistance machines (Colado & Triplett 2008, Sundstrup et al. 2012). A study1 conducted by Dr. Saied Jalal Aboodarda and colleagues further supports the use of elastic resistance devices as cost effective modes of training for muscle strength and hypertrophy in healthy individuals.
In this study, which was published in the Journal of Sports Science and Medicine, researchers compared Thera-Band elastic bands to Nautilus weight machines on muscle strength and muscle damage on nine healthy male subjects. Each participant performed five sets of ten repetition maximum knee extension exercises with a Thera-Band elastic band and on the exercise machine.
The participants were tested for their maximum quadriceps strength, delayed onset muscle soreness, and indicators of muscle damage. The researchers found that both the elastic resistance and machine-aided exercises produced the same amount of muscle damage, which has been shown to be the underlying mechanism of further muscle hypertrophy.2 The researchers concluded that both modes of training provide a similar training stress, despite lower force generation during the elastic-resisted exercise.
“While popular in the rehabilitation setting, elastic bands and tubing are often underutilized in strength training. This stems from an unfounded assumption that elastic resistance products can only provide a low level of external force and is therefore limited in providing an appropriate resistance/stimulus for strength,” stated Dr. Phil Page, director of clinical education and research for Performance Health and author of Strength Band Training.
The authors concluded their paper with, “Considering that an elastic resistance device has long been accepted as an affordable, portable and versatile exercise training aid compared with other training equipment such as the Nautilus machine, the present data support the use of an elastic resistance device as a cost effective mode of training for achieving further muscle strength and hypertrophy in healthy individuals. This is contrary to many previous investigations that have rejected the potential of utilizing an elastic resistance device in athletic settings, because of a perception that an elastic resistance device does not provide adequate training stress.”
“We are grateful to the researchers for their work on this study, just one more among many others that validate the effectiveness of our Thera-Band resistance products,” concluded Page.
Source: Performance Health, thera-band.com
Aboodarda SJ, et al. Muscle strength and damage following two modes of variable resistance training. J Sports Sci Med. 2011. 10:635-642.