We're willing to bet that if you've been trying to make muscle gains in the gym, especially if you're a guy, you've overlooked the utility and importance of this gym accessory.
Yep, it's Resistance Bands.
You may think that resistance bands and strength training go together like Toothpaste and Orange Juice, but in fact many bodybuilders recommend using them to train the small muscles that are often overlooked.
Resistive Bands don't have to be used by themselves, they can assist compound exercises such as; bench press, squats, bicep curls, and dead lift.
For example, to increase difficulty on Bench Press, attach a band to the outside of the barbell and a heavy secure object below.
As you perform the movement you will find the exercise increasingly difficult during the concentric phase (as you push the bar off your chest).
This makes them a great accessory for any home gym, to add an extra level of resistance to what may be a limited range of weights available.
But... can bands be implemented into your existing muscle building and strength routine, and even take on the monopoly that free weights hold on your workout?
You may be surprised to learn that bands sometimes beat barbells...
Resistance bands vs Free Weights
Although traditional weights are still king of the gym, the science says that muscle responds to time under tension, causing the fibre damage which results in growth. The longer the time under tension, the better. If you're using enough resistance then the muscle will respond and fire.
Resistance + time under tension = growth.
There are also multiple advantages that bands have over free weights:
1) Variable Resistance
The more you stretch the band through the range of motion, the harder it gets. This is great for exercises like curls, as you aren't limited to the weight you can move from the initial starting position. You can put a lot more tension on the bicep this way.
2) Constant Tension on Muscle
When using free weights, there is often a space at the end of the range of motion where you can "lock out" and decrease muscle tension. With resistance bands, there will be more resistance at the peak of the range of motion, working your stabilising muscles much more than a free weight would.
3) Bands Prevent using Momentum
Bad form, such as swinging hips for curls, won't help you out with resistance bands. You'll thank us for this later when your mind muscle connection and form improves.
4) Less chance of Injury.
No heavy weights flying around. Enough said.
Resistance Bands also put less stress on your joints as they allow to keep a neutral grip on the bands, similar to an EZ curl bar.
5) Cheap and Portable
If you travel a lot, there nothing better than resistance bands, especially in the harder resistive strengths, to keep an exercise routine going in your hotel room.
For more information on resistance band workouts for muscle mass, check out James Grage on Youtube, he's one of the the leading resistance bands bodybuilders on Youtube. Here's an example of a resistance band Complete Chest Workout!
And here's a complete body strength band workout from ATHLEAN-X!