Do Resistance Bands Build Muscle Or Tone? Find Out Why You Can Use Bands To Achieve Both Goals!

Do resistance bands build muscle or tone

If you’re new to band workouts, you may be puzzled as to what you can actually expect to achieve from them. This post examines whether resistance bands build muscle size or tone.

Resistance bands can be used to build muscle as well as increase tone. These are both highly related processes. And assuming a workout is performed at a sufficient intensity, resistance bands can be used to enlarge muscles as well as increase their definition.

I’ve been training with bands for over 3 years now.

They’ve helped me to bulk up as well as build a defined and athletic-looking body.

Below, I share my experience and research with you so that you can do the same!

How I used resistance bands to build muscle and tone.

What Is The Difference Between Building Muscle And Tone?

Building muscle and tone are two similar but different processes. Building muscle refers to the process of enlarging muscular size. In comparison, building muscle tone refers to the process of increasing muscular definition. It is possible to tone without increasing muscle size and vice versa.

For most people, one comes with the other.

In other words, the more muscle you build, the more toned you become.

But that’s not always the case.

That’s because muscle tone also requires a relatively low body fat percentage to reveal the underlying definition.

Difference between muscular size and tone.

If you were to focus just on building muscle size with no regard for tone, then you would probably look like a meathead (you know the type with lots of muscle but also a lot of fat).

In contrast, if you were to focus on building muscle tone with no regard for increasing muscular size, then you would likely end up looking ripped and shredded.

Therefore it’s completely possible to build one and not the other.

But for most of us, we want to achieve both goals!

Why Resistance Bands Can Build Both Muscle And Tone

My muscle-building home workout.

Now that you know building muscle and tone are separate but similar processes, let’s dive deeper into how you can achieve both goals.

  • Building muscle requires heavy resistance training. Resistance training simply means anything that provides a counter-resisting force to the direction of muscle contraction. When this force is strong enough, your muscles are sufficiently challenged. This causes microtrauma to your muscles and the subsequent repair process causes the muscle to enlarge. The entire process is known as hypertrophy.
  • Building muscle tone requires large muscles, low fat, or both. There are multiple ways to increase muscle definition and tone. The best way is to build muscle and lose fat at the same time. But if you’re body fat percentage is naturally quite low, then building larger muscles alone can be sufficient to increase muscle tone.

The good news is that resistance bands can build both muscle size as well as tone.

If you get high-quality bands that provide heavy resistance, then they can be used to challenge your muscle with enough resistance to build muscle and lose fat.

How I use resistance bands to build arm size and increase tone.

I personally use and recommend the Undersun resistance bands.

Not only do they come as a set of 5 different resistance levels for beginners to advanced lifters, but the heaviest bands are also enough for most people to build muscle and tone at home.

How To Build Muscle Using Bands

Beginners can use resistance bands to build muscle by training 3 times per week. Each workout should include an exercise for each major muscle group. Each exercise should comprise 3-5 sets of 8-15 repetitions using a band tension that is sufficient enough to fatigue the user on each set.

So for example, Monday’s full-body workout could comprise the following exercises:

Resistance Band ExerciseBody Region WorkedMuscles Built
Banded push-upChestPectorals and triceps
Bicep curlsArmsBiceps
Overhead pressShouldersDeltoids and triceps
Underhand rowBackTrapezius, rhomboids, latissimus dorsi
Banded crunchAbsAbdominals, obliques
Squat with bandsLegsQuadriceps, hamstrings, calves, glutes

For each exercise, you would perform 3-5 sets with a 1-2 minute rest in between each set.

Each set would comprise 8-15 consecutive repetitions (no break).

You would then repeat this workout 3 times per week. I’d recommend giving yourself at least 24 hours of rest between workouts for optimal recovery.

Here’s a ninja tip I use to get a great muscle pump.

Try incorporating time under tension (TUT) into your training.

You can do this by prolonging the upward/downward phases of a lift to 3 seconds each. Therefore each repetition should last around 6 or more seconds.

It’s tough work, but it’s a great way to use your resistance bands to build a great muscle pump and get some visible tone on your muscles!

Looking for a detailed band workout guide? You might be interested in my other post which explains how to use resistance bands instead of weights at home!

How To Use Bands To Increase Muscle Tone By Reducing Fat

Beginners can use resistance bands to tone their bodies by reducing body fat. This can be achieved with 2-3 HIIT-style band workouts per week. For this to work effectively, however, it is important to maintain a calorie deficit diet to ensure body fat is burned.

HIIT stands for high-intensity interval training.

It involves performing short but intense bouts of resistance exercises separated by equally short rest intervals.

The overall effect is a workout that is great for ramping up your heart rate, torching calories, and building muscle.

Total-Body Resistance Band HIIT Workout | James Grage
Tip: James uses the Undersun bands (link for the cheapest price) in this fat-burning workout!

This makes resistance band HIIT a great way to build muscle and tone at the same time.

The best exercises for HIIT include the deadlift and squat to shoulder press, both of which involve working your entire body.

But as a beginner, you can simply follow the muscle-building band workout described above.

The only tweak you would make is to decrease the tension level (use a lighter colored band) and reduce the rest time in between sets to 5-10 seconds.

If you combine this style of workout with a calorie deficit, you should begin gradually losing fat and increasing muscle tone.

If you’re naturally quite skinny, then you shouldn’t need to lose any more body fat to tone your body.

You’ll find that building muscle (as per the previous section) is enough to also increase muscle tone.

Still not convinced about the effectiveness of resistance bands? You can go to my other post for resistance band transformation case studies for inspiration!

Are Resistance Bands Better For Building Muscle Or Tone?

Resistance bands are equally well-suited to building muscle and tone. Combining a calorie surplus and high protein diet with band exercises performed at 8-15 reps per set is better for building muscle. In contrast, a calorie deficit and high protein diet are better for building muscle tone.

Just remember to choose a resistance band tension level that actually challenges you.

You should also remember that if you have a naturally low body fat percentage, then you don’t need to go on a calorie deficit.

If this sounds like you, then just stick to maintenance calories and muscle-building band workouts. You should find yourself toning up as you build muscle along the way.

How Long It Takes To Build Muscle And Tone Using Resistance Bands

It can take 1-3 months to notice the first results from resistance band training. The first signs of muscle tone usually appear in 1-2 months. In contrast, the first signs of muscle enlargement can take up to 3 months. Both timeframes are based on following an effective program.

Therefore the timeline to results varies slightly depending on your goal.

Generally speaking, it’s much quicker to see the first signs of muscle tone than it is to see a considerable size increase.

That’s because your muscles will likely enter a permanent state of increased tension within a few weeks of beginning your workout program.

Of course, that’s assuming you’re using adequate tension on your bands!

My Undersun resistance bands.

The Undersun bands I use and recommend come in a set of 5 different tension levels.

This is one of my favorite things about the set.

Not only does a set of bands allow you to progress as you become stronger, but it also means they can be used effectively from the get-go by people of all fitness levels!

Still unsure if resistance bands are actually effective? You might be interested in checking out my other post to find out how resistance bands really work!


I’ve explained whether resistance bands build muscle or tone.

When used properly, bands can effectively increase muscle size as well as definition.

Both are related processes- in other words increasing muscle size will most likely also lead to increased tone, and vice versa.

If your goal is to emphasize muscular size, then concentrate on lifting 8-15 reps per set using a tension level that challenges you.

But if your goal is rather to increase muscular tone, then HIIT-style workouts utilizing a short rest period can be more beneficial.

Naturally skinny people will most likely develop tone together with muscle size.

How will you be using your resistance bands to build muscle and tone?

Feel free to send me a message if you have any questions! You can find my details on the “contact us” page.

You may also be interested in the downloadable Kalibre Blueprint PDF which details exactly how I gained 40lbs of lean muscle (it’s 100% free!). It details the exact exercises and nutrition (with printable worksheets) I used to go from skinny to ripped!

Thanks for reading guys!

Peace Out,


(Biochemistry BSc, Biomedical Sciences MSc, Ex-Skinny Guy)


I'm Kal (B.S, M.S)- a health & fitness writer and owner of Kalibre Fitness. I love to nerd out on weight training and nutrition. My primary interests are in muscle hypertrophy mechanisms and strength development. You can connect with me in the "Contact Us" section below!

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