Variable Resistance Training


What is variable resistance training(VRT)?

How does VRT work?

What can VRT be used for?

How to add VRT to your workout.

Final Thoughts.

What is Variable Resistance Training and should you be using it? 

Variable resistance training, or VRT for short, is a simple and effective form of resistance training. It has been around for quite some time and is a great addition to any training plan. It has become even more popular in recent years as a result of some pretty major global challenges. 

With distressing statistics emerging on climate change and a major global pandemic, many of us have begun to reassess our lifestyle and make some much-needed changes to improve our health, and the health of our planet. People have started to look at ways to reduce travel, spend more time outdoors and improve the sustainability of their lifestyle.

So, where does variable resistance training come in? Read on to find out…

Firstly, let’s understand how it works.

Variable resistance training does exactly what it says on the tin. It provides a varied resistance throughout an exercise, unlike traditional methods of resistance training which provide constant resistance. Now don’t get me wrong, both forms of training are great to include in your program but let’s discuss why VRT plays an important role. 

As you go through an exercise, you will find that some parts of the movement are easier, and some parts of the movement are harder. Let’s take the humble squat as an example…

You lower yourself down into the squatting position, and then comes the hardest part, transitioning from the squatting position and pushing yourself back up. Once you are halfway up, it becomes a lot easier, and you can finish the movement without much difficulty. 

With traditional resistance training, a barbell would provide the same constant weight throughout the movement. This can make it difficult to increase the resistance and progress your training. 

By using Variable Resistance, you increase the resistance at easier parts of the movement, without adding too much to the hardest part of the movement. A great way of progressing and getting past that well known sticking point, without compromising on form!  

What can Variable Resistance Training be used for?

  • As a progressions for body weight training
  • Adding resistance with minimal equipment
  • Strength training progression
  • Power training
  • Rehabilitation and training around injury
So, How do you add Variable Resistance to your training?

There are a few different ways of incorporating variable resistance into your training program. Which one you chose will depend on your individual preferences, your training plan, and your lifestyle. The most common forms are:

  • Chains
  • Resistance bands 

Chains are often used in a gym setting to add variable resistance to compound lifts like bench press and squats. They come in a variety of different weights and lengths.

Chains add maximum resistance at the easier parts of the lift when there is less of the chain resting on the floor, and minimal resistance at the harder parts of the lift when more of the chain is resting on the floor. They are less commonly used than resistance bands for the obvious reason of practicality.

I’m not sure about you but I’m not about to start carrying chains around in my bag or dragging them in and out of the cupboard when working out at home. 

Resistance bands, like the ones offered by Onterra, are a much more practical and versatile way to incorporate variable resistance into your training, especially outside of the traditional gym setting. There are two main types:

  • Looped 
  • Open ended which normally have handles at each end

Resistance bands can be found with different tension or resistance levels so you can choose which one suits your training plan. They work in a similar way to an elastic band. When in a relaxed unstretched position they don’t provide any resistance, but as the band stretches the resistance increases.

So, if you think back to our squat, when we are in the hardest phase of the squat at the lowest part of the squatting position, there is very little resistance on the band. This allows us to start the movement of pushing up without too much resistance. Once we get to the upper easier phase of the squat, the resistance increases to make it harder. 

Bands can also be used to support mobility and stretching as part of the warmup and cool down. 

Additional benefits of resistance bands include: 

  • Affordability: Traditional resistance training equipment such as dumbbells, barbells, and cable machines can be extremely pricey, and in today’s environment resistance bands are a great option that don’t break the bank. 
  • Practicality: They are light and easy to carry for outdoor workouts in the park or the garden.
  • Easy to store: No more finding space for a growing amount of training equipment. Resistance bands are neat and compact and easy to store in small spaces at home.  
Final Thoughts…

So, if you’re looking for a practical way to progress your training that suits your lifestyle, start incorporating variable resistance training in your routine. What are you waiting for? I’ve already got mine. Versatile, affordable, practical, good for the earth, good for you. Don’t walk, run!

5 resistance bands exercises to train your biceps



Anatomy of the Biceps

Why use resistance Bands

5 variations of resistance band curls


Training your biceps is a staple part of most training programs. Whether you’re looking to increase your strength or chase after that well known Popeye bulge in the upper arm, it’s likely that you are including some bicep exercises in your session, but are you getting the most out of them?

Many of us tend to hit a brick wall when it comes to variety in training biceps. The well-known dumbbell bicep curl is a great start, but what other exercises can we do to really get to that next level, and how do we combat the dreaded fatigue that comes on so quickly and unexpectedly when repping the curls?

In this article we’ll discuss the anatomy of the bicep to show the benefit of variety, we’ll discuss why resistance bands are a great addition to your program, and finally, we’ll give you some curl varieties to incorporate into your training straight away.

Anatomy of the Biceps

Let’s start with the nitty gritty. The biceps, also known as bicep brachii, run from the top of the shoulder down to the inner forearm. It has two heads at the shoulder, the long and short head. Its main role is to flex the elbow and supinate the forearm (turn your palm upwards), however, as the muscle runs across both the shoulder and the elbow, it’s involved in movements at both joints.

At the shoulder, the bicep helps to flex your arm forward and across your body, and acts as a stabiliser for the front of the shoulder joint. So, if you really want to get the most out of training your biceps, variety is essential.

Why use resistance Bands

With the primary movement of the biceps being a pull, it’s common to hear people complain that they fatigue especially quickly. This is where variable resistance training comes in.

Variable resistance training (VRT) essentially means that you can optimise the resistance at the easiest part of the exercise, while keeping a slightly lighter resistance at the harder part of the exercise, making it easier to progress your strength, stamina, and performance. To read more about VRT be sure to head to our recent article ‘Variable Resistance Training’ where we go into a lot more detail.

One of the most effective methods of variable resistance training is resistance bands. Bands are a great addition to your training and give you the freedom to add variety and progression whether you are in the gym, at home or in the park. If you haven’t got your hands on a resistance band yet, give Onterra Fitness a go!

5 resistance band exercises for the biceps:

Ready to add that variety and get those biceps you’ve been hoping for? Read on for five exercises to get started with straight away.


  1. Stand with your feet apart with the band under one foot and the other end in your hand on the same side.
  2. Palm facing inwards and thumb at the top.
  3. Flex your elbow pulling the band away from the ground, keeping your hand facing the same direction throughout.
  4. Stay slow and controlled.
  5. 3-4 sets of 8-12 each side.


  1. Feet shoulder width apart with the band secured under your feet.
  2. Hold the band with both hands, with your hands facing in (as above).
  3. Start your bicep curl and as you are pulling the band rotate your forearm to finish in a palm up position.
  4. When lowering back down, rotate your hand back to the starting position.
  5. 3-4 sets of 8-12 reps.


  1. Secure the band to a low anchor point and hold the other end in one hand. Step away from the anchor to add resistance.
  2. Get into a half kneeling position with the knee closest to the anchor on the ground and place the elbow of your working arm on your inner thigh, palm facing up and forearm along the same line as the band.
  3. Keeping your elbow on your inner thigh, pull the band by flexing at the elbow.
  4. Try 3 sets of 8-10 for this one, it’s a tough one!


  1. Keep the band at the same anchor point as above and stand facing away from the anchor point with your arm stretched slightly behind you holding the band.
  2. Curl the band while flexing your shoulder slightly at the same time to end in a full bicep curl position.
  3. Keep it slow and controlled as you lower
  4. Start with 4 sets of 8-10


  1. Secure the band to a high anchor point and hold the other end in both hands. Step away from the anchor to add resistance.
  2. Start with your arms out in front of you around shoulder level.
  3. In a curling motion, pull the band towards your face.
  4. Keep it slow and controlled
  5. Try 3-4 sets of 8-12 reps

You can tailor the sets and reps to suit your goals and fit into your program. Remember to challenge yourself by switching things up with the resistance and keep the tempo slow and controlled on the eccentric (lowering) phase of the exercise for optimal outcome. Give it a go and see how you get on!

Looped vs Tubed Resistance Bands


Introduction to resistance bands

Benefits and Disadvantages of Looped Resistance Bands

How do Tubed Bands compare?

Our final thoughts

Introduction To Resistance Bands:

Resistance bands have been used as an integral part of rehabilitation for at least the last two decades. With recent improvements in material technology and versatility, they are now also a popular tool for home and Gym workouts – making exercise more accessible and effective for all.

Resistance bands are a simple, effective, and versatile exercise tool that can be used anywhere by anyone at any time. This makes them a fantastic choice for anyone looking to workout as they travel, prefers outdoor exercise, or does not have easy access to a Gym.

Most bands come in different lengths and tensions which vary from very light to very heavy resistance. Existing bands available vary from looped bands to tubed bands, with and without handles.

Each type of band can be used for different purposes and different types of workouts.

In this article, we compare the three most popular types of Resistance Band, and why we think Onterra looped resistance bands stand head and shoulders above the rest of the crowd…

Being very light and portable whilst still offering a range of resistances makes resistance bands a fantastic alternative to traditional dumbbell & barbell workouts. The versatility of their application also means they compliment existing resistance programmes extremely well.

Benefits and Disadvantages of Looped Resistance Bands:

Looped resistance bands often come in two forms; pull up assist and mini thigh band.

Pull Up Assist bands, such as the Onterra resistance band set, are made from multiple layers of natural latex fused together to create one sturdy durable loop.

Benefits of Pull Up Assist:

Perfect for any workout – this type of band can be used at full length to both assist and resist bodyweight exercises such as pull ups and Tricep dips.

Can be knotted and shortened – to use in the same way as a thigh band for exercises such as Glute Bridges and Clamshells. In this sense we think Pull Up Assist bands offer dual benefits over thigh bands alone.

If you’re not already sold on Pull up assist over thigh bands then consider the additional benefits of Onterra’s inclusive high-quality door anchor accessory.

Adding a door anchor to the setup not only increases the safety and simplicity of your resistance bands but also allows you to use the band as if it were a pulley system, giving you yet more options for exercise such as Overhead extensions, Tricep Pulldowns, and multiple variations of rows.

If you are serious about taking your workouts to the next level with resistance bands then this should be a staple accessory in your routine!

Mini thigh bands, such as the Meteor Fabric Essential, are a small band usually made from either natural Latex or a soft and flexible fabric with a woven silicone lining.

Benefits of Mini thigh bands:

Glute work – really do what they say on the box. They are a very suitable option for a lightweight Glute-intensive workout.

Shoulder stability work – the small loop of a light resistance band makes a mini band useful for increasing rotator cuff activation when performing shoulder exercises.

Various resistance levels – as with all other types of looped band.

When comparing looped bands, we are big believers in the pull up assist over the thigh band due to their increased versatility in application, allowing you to get more creative with your workouts and target the whole body versus one muscle group alone.

How do Tubed Bands compare?

Tubed resistance bands, like FitLife Exercise Bands, are another great option for a light and inexpensive tool to add variety to workouts at all levels.

Benefits of Tubed Resistance Bands:

Suitable for a wide range of body weights and varying uses – Due to their multiple layers of bonded natural latex making them durable like looped bonds.

Key disadvantages with tubed bands versus looped bands:

Reduced durability where the stitching connects the door anchor to the band. We find that they tend not to stand the test of time quite as well as an anchor that needs only feed through the loop of a band.

Reduced surface area of these bands – comparable to pull up assist loop bands, meaning that you need more length. This causes a reduction in stability and portability, which are really some of the key advantages to using resistance bands in the first place.

Can only use the handles – This limits the variable tension available. For example, when using a looped band you can increase or decrease resistance simply by holding the band closer or further from its anchor point. This is not possible with tubed bands as the handles on the end are often immovable.

In this respect we would always choose looped resistance bands over tubed because of this.

Final Thoughts…

In conclusion, we are genuinely inclined to believe that looped bands offer increased safety, comfort, versatility, and portability versus their tubed counterparts.

Naturally we believe Onterra to be the pick of the bunch in terms of quality and design, and we are confident you’ll agree with us when you try yours. If you are looking the best of the best in resistance bands, try us out!

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