If you scroll through Instagram and don't see a mini-band workout video, were you really on Instagram? Powerbands had slingshotted to full social peak, and no wonder: Powerbands are a great tool to have in your fitness gear arsenal. They can add an extra challenge to any go-to exercise move, they're totally portable and the easiest way to make body-weight exercises, like Freeletics, more effective. 

Originally a proven alternative to free weights and machines for the elderly and injured, powerbands have been confirmed to boost muscle strength and functional performance in healthy folks too. But that's not the only reason. Let us count the ways...

Fast-track to fat loss

Calorie burn goes hand in hand with muscle activation: The more muscle fibers you work—especially within your glutes—the more cals you zap. And that's just in the moment. Bands help build muscle size and strength over time, and it takes more energy to maintain muscle, so you'll spur your resting metabolism as well.

Strengthen your weak spots

Your glutes and scapular muscles benefit most from powerbands, as they don't always engage properly with weights. How we move those muscles also matters: We tend to lack lateral stability, since we mostly move forward and back or up and down. When used for moves like squat walks, the band amps mobility in that direction—crucial for dynamic activities like ice skating and dancing. 

Go light for speed

For explosive exercises like jumping jacks or plank jacks, use a light-tension powerband around your ankles. The ankle placement, by the way, helps the band stay in position during quick movements.

Refine your form

Their best function is an inherent "autocorrect feature. An example: Placing the band above or below your knees for squats and deadlifts pulls your knees together, which can cause "valgus"—a form flaw women are prone to because of their wide hips. This forces you to reflexively push your knees apart, helping you burn out your glutes and hamstrings. It also reduces knee pain.

Maintain tension

When you do lateral work, namely lateral band walks, place your feet at least shoulder-width apart, or as wide as you need to keep the band taut. People often bring their feet together between walks, but that not only causes the band to fall down, it also takes tension off the glutes, which gyps the effect.

Increase muscle activation

Powerbands place constant tension on your muscles, keeping them equally engaged for both the contracting and lengthening phases of an exercise. The stretchiness of the band also allows you to tap smaller stabilizing muscles that you can't hit with dead weight, because they pitch in to maintain control all along the range of motion.