5 Try exercising with resistance bands
5 Try exercising with resistance bands
Resistance bands—a simple, lightweight and flexible piece of exercise equipment—can often be overlooked at the gym in favor of heavy dumbbells or high-tech equipment. But just because something is simple doesn’t mean it won’t pack a wallop in your workout.
Resistance bands have many benefits no matter what your fitness journey or goal. Resistance bands can be a particularly beneficial addition to any strength training regimen. Plus, they can be used by any skill level—from gym newbies to experienced deadlifters—to quickly build more strength in your upper body, glutes, hips, thighs, and calves.
If you’re new to working out with resistance bands, or if you’re looking for a refresher on how to bring something edgy to your strength-training regimen, we’ve got your back. This versatile addition to your gym kit can have you quickly swapping heavy equipment for something a little more flexible.
What is a resistance band?
The basic principle of resistance bands is that the more you stretch them, the more your muscles have to work. Your muscles generate force as they fight against the band’s tension.
It’s a simple principle. But not all resistance bands will give you the same workout. Resistance bands come in different tension levels and styles. Watch out for the following variations:
- Therapy Band – These flat pieces of elastic may be the ones you are most familiar with. They generally have low resistance and are particularly helpful for stretching and improving mobility.
- Tube band with handle – These round bands may also be called “fit tube” resistance bands. Strength trainers love them for upper body work, and you can use them as a replacement for dumbbells in moves like bicep curls or shoulder presses.
- Figure 8 Band – These are similar to tube bands, but instead of handles, you have soft grips. They tend to be shorter than other types of resistance bands.
- Ankle Resistance Bands – Ankle resistance bands are designed specifically for lower body work. They come with velcro so you can wrap them around your ankles and add some resistance to your foot lifts and side steps.
- Pull Up Bands – If you’re training to do push-ups or pull-ups, you’ll want these bands in your fitness toolkit. They help support your body as you learn to pull yourself up over a bar. They tend to be longer than other bands and pack a heavy punch.
If you’re at your local gym, you’ll notice that resistance bands come in a variety of colors. A general rule of thumb is that the darker the color of a resistance band, the greater the tension. When you’re first starting your resistance training, start with mild tension. Then you can work your way up as your muscle strength increases.
Upper Body Resistance Band Exercise Workout
A big advantage of resistance bands is that you can use them to exercise almost every part of your body. When it comes to your upper half, there are a variety of effective exercises that can increase strength in your arms, shoulders, abs, and more.
Here are two resistance band exercises to add to your upper body routine.
#1 Lateral lift
Some people may also call this move “lateral growth”. Whatever you call it, you’ll mostly feel the tension in your shoulders (or lateral deltoid muscles). Your front deltoids and upper traps will also get a workout. To perform this resistance band exercise:
- Start by stepping in the middle of your resistance band. You can use a foot or two to hold the band. Grasp the ends of the band with both hands and start with your arms at your sides.
- Slowly raise your arms until they are parallel to the floor.
- Lower your arms until they are at your sides again.
- That one is representative. Repeat 10 times.
#2 Chest press
This is the perfect exercise for people who hate push-ups but still want to work their chest and arms. Chest press is a fun move to target your biceps, triceps and chest. You can do it sitting or standing.
- Start with the resistance band behind you. Hold one end of the resistance band in each hand.
- Begin with your elbows bent and your hands near your shoulders.
- Straighten your elbows as you push your arms straight out in front of you, parallel to the floor.
- Return your hands to your shoulders.
- Your first rep is done. Repeat this 10 times.
Lower body exercises with resistance bands
If you’re ready to turn up the heat on classic lower body moves like squats, a resistance band is all you need. Here’s how to start training to strengthen your legs, hips and glutes.
Everyone’s favorite hurt-it-is-better move is elevated to the next level with a resistance band. You will feel the burn in your glutes and quad muscles.
- Place resistance bands around your feet and just above your knees. Stand with feet slightly wider than hip-distance apart. Your feet should also rotate slightly (about 5 to 10 degrees).
- Lower yourself into a squat position, pushing your hips back. As you do this, keep the resistance band taut by pushing your thighs out. Remember to keep your knees in line with your toes.
- Stand back up and leave the band slightly.
- Repeat for 10 repetitions.
For a more challenging workout, increase the resistance level after each set.
It’s not too hard to guess how this exercise got its name. This is especially useful for targeting your outer thighs, glutes, and buttocks. (And since you’re lying down, it can rest the rest of your leg between other exercises.) To do this resistance band exercise:
- Lie on your right side with your hips and legs stacked on top of each other. Slip the resistance band just above your knees.
- Bend your knees to about a 90-degree angle, keeping your feet in line with your tailbone.
- Keeping your feet in place, lift your top knee up to the ceiling. Hold for one second, then lower your knees. (This should mimic the shape of a clamshell opening and closing.)
- Repeat for 20 repetitions. Then roll to your left side and repeat.
#5 Lateral walking
Once you add a resistance band this little step back and forth becomes a burn-inducing challenge. You’ll quickly strengthen your glutes and glutes.
- Step inside the resistance band and pull up to your thighs.
- Dip slowly into a half squat.
- Step to the right with your right foot, then bring your left foot up a step to meet it.
- Step left with your left foot, then follow through with your right foot.
- That one is representative. Repeat 20 times.
Tips for proper resistance band technique
As with most exercises, you will see better results when you are able to maintain proper form. But resistance bands are fairly easy to incorporate into your workout routine. There are just a few pointers to keep in mind when using an exercise band:
- Do not work with torn resistance bands.
- If you’re tying a resistance band to a surface like a door, make sure it’s securely attached before starting your exercise.
- Keep the form you use when exercising without a resistance band.
What are the benefits of resistance band training?
Resistance bands are a popular choice among gym rats for good reason. Once you start using resistance bands, you’ll eventually find yourself swapping them where you’d normally reach for weights.
“Resistance bands may not look like much, but they can strengthen your muscles just as effectively as more traditional weights,” says Christopher Travers, MS, an exercise physiologist at the Cleveland Clinic.1 “In many ways, the bands put more tension on your muscles and make them work more during the movement.”
Some of the benefits of resistance training with a band include:
- Better strength training – When you use a resistance band for your workout, you are triggering muscle activation. That translates to big power gains.
- Low body fat- A 2022 study found that people who exercised with resistance bands lost more weight than those who exercised with free weights or bodyweight exercises.2
- Increase coordination – Working out with a resistance band effectively targets your smaller stabilizer muscles.
- Low risk of injury – Because resistance bands work with your body’s strength, you’re less likely to overexert yourself than with free weights. Also, you don’t have to worry about injuries due to heavy lifting.
- adaptability – You can quickly change the intensity of your workout by shortening the length of your band or switching the exercise band for a higher or lower resistance level.
- Portability – They are light and easy to use. You can put one in your gym bag or suitcase, and it takes up barely any room.
- affordability – Most resistance bands cost less than $30 and last a lifetime.
Resistance bands can also be used for almost any workout. Bring them along for squats, medicine ball workouts, or light resistance training.
Create your resistance band workout with Choose Fitness
While we hope you feel more confident about working out with a resistance band after reading this, it’s perfectly normal to want some extra support. If you’re still thinking, “I don’t know where to start with resistance bands,” find the one closest to you Choose Fitness Location and start a powerful and supportive training session with one of our experts.
Our knowledgeable and welcoming instructors will help you master the resistance band technique, whether you’re on the gym floor or in one of our Fitness class. You can even join the action from your living room online Ichuz class
Our knowledgeable and caring team will work with you until you fully master your resistance band technique. Your muscles will thank you later.
Ani is Vice President of Fitness at Chuz Fitness and oversees the Group Fitness and Team Training departments. He had a 25+ year career in club management, personal training, group exercise and instructor training. Annie lives in San Diego, CA with her husband and son and loves hot yoga, snowboarding and all things wellness.
- Cleveland Clinic. How effective are resistance bands for strength training? https://health.clevelandclinic.org/should-you-try-resistance-bands-for-strength-training/
- Frontiers in Physiology. Effects of different resistance exercises on body composition and muscle strength in overweight and/or obese individuals: a systematic review and meta-analysis.. https://www.frontiersin.org/articles/10.3389/fphys.2021.791999/full
- National Library of Medicine. Effects of traditional resistance versus elastic resistance training on muscle strength: a systematic review and meta-analysis.. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6383082/
- Fits very well. Selecting and using resistance bands. https://www.verywellfit.com/choosing-and-using-resistance-bands-1229709
- Women’s health. 30 resistance band exercises to tone and strengthen your entire body. https://www.womenshealthmag.com/fitness/g29565103/best-resistance-band-exercises/
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