Getting Started with Resistance Bands

Lauren Caggiano

Written by Lauren Caggiano on Sun Oct 30 2022.

You might have seen them at the gym or at a physical therapy office. Resistance exercise bands come in several colors, each with a meaning behind them. As your therapy/exercise program advances, you can use these colors to increase resistance to gain strength or safely recover from an injury. So what do the colors tell you? We put together this helpful guide to answer that question.

You might have seen them at the gym or at a physical therapy office. Resistance exercise bands come in several colors, each with a meaning behind them. However, most people aren’t familiar with the colors and their purpose. 

These physical therapy bands use these different colors to indicate the amount of resistance the band offers. Think of these colors as guides. As your therapy/exercise program advances, you can use these colors to increase resistance to gain strength or safely recover from an injury. So what do the colors tell you? We put together this helpful guide to answer that question.

How Do Resistance Bands Work?

Resistance bands provide carrying amounts of resistance (light, medium, heavy, extra heavy). When they are anchored in place, you can push, pull, curl, etc., against the band, putting stress on your muscle fibers. This is what helps you strengthen and build muscles. Beyond strength, resistance bands can help you increase your range of motion, flexibility, and muscular endurance — all key to healthy aging.

Great for beginners or seasoned gym goers, resistance bands can be personalized for your goals and ability. Just like free weights, different bands offer a variety of resistance levels. However, unlike dumbbells, resistance bands can target smaller muscle groups, making them a popular tool for personal trainers according to Livestrong.com.

As with any exercise, you should consult your doctor first before beginning any exercise routine. Also, start at the lower end and work your way to higher resistance levels. The color coding makes it easy to increase or decrease resistance based on your needs. 

Decoding Resistance Exercise Band Colors

As mentioned above, the colors of the resistance band rainbow are more than just for looks. As you gain confidence and strength, you will want to increase the resistance level of your exercise bands. The different colors of these exercise bands represent different resistance levels.

When beginning a resistance band program, there are a few things to keep in mind: 

  • Do not go up in resistance without your doctor or therapist’s consent if you’re recovering from an injury. This can overstress an injured area and you could do more harm than good.

  • You should immediately stop exercising if you experience pain.

  • The different colors of resistance bands may vary slightly by brand, so it’s best to speak with a certified personal trainer or physical therapist if you have questions.

Why Resistance Bands are Good for Older Adults 

Travel-friendly

Resistance bands can be used anywhere. They’re compact and light so they don’t take up much space or add weight if you’re traveling and want to follow a workout program on the road. Simply tuck one away in your luggage and you can set up your own gym wherever you please.

Multi-level

As mentioned above, resistance bands come in various colors and thicknesses that indicate the degree of difficulty. This means you can choose which band is best for you.

Variety

You don’t have to lift heavy weights to get a toner physique. Resistance bands can be ideal for working smaller muscle areas. Another advantage is that you don’t have to start a routine from scratch. You can adapt exercises you’re already familiar with and make them more challenging with the bands. For example, you could swap out dumbbells for bands when doing bicep curls. 

Which TheraBand Color is Best?

Regardless of brand, resistance bands can enhance a workout. Users can experience greater quality of life as a result and resistance band workouts are proven to be an efficient and effective way of managing knee arthritis. For instance, patients managing osteoarthritis and who have used resistance bands have indicated that they’ve found some relief from pain and discomfort as a result.

What all the resistance band brands have in common is a color-coded system to help users know which type is best for their situation. As an example, Thera-Band uses the following to indicate the level of resistance and muscles worked:

Using Resistance Bands Safely

As with any piece of gym equipment, there are some dos and don’ts to keep in mind to keep you safe. Here are a few things to keep in mind: 

  • Before you begin exercising with the band, it’s a good idea to check their integrity. Even a small amount of wear and tear might lead to the band breaking during the training session and causing an injury.

  • It’s best to avoid wearing jewelry while using the band, as this can affect your range of motion.

  • Some fitness professionals advise wearing protective eye gears to avoid injuries.

  • Fit is important. Resistance bands shouldn't be too loose or too tight. They should be sized appropriately so that it does not roll up while you work out. You can prevent this by getting resistance bands with the right width and length. 

In short, resistance band exercises are good for older adults or those new to working out because of their accessibility to all fitness levels, ease of use, and convenience. However, older adults shouldn’t just rely on them alone. A holistic strength training program should include a mix of resistance bands, free weights, and machines to give yourself a great workout.

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Lauren Caggiano
Lauren Caggiano

Lauren Caggiano is an Indiana-based copywriter/editor, ACE certified personal trainer and ACE certified health coach. She has a passion for health and wellness and helping people live fuller and richer lives.