Resistance Bands Just Dropped!
Price, Ease of Use, and Flexibility are the key benefits of resistance bands training. Tension resistance training induces several health benefits and is recommended for the general population. Physical inactivity is in the top five risk factors for death in the United States.
Resistance band exercises, even moderate, can help with mental health, cognitive health, sleep quality, cancer prevention, immune function, high blood pressure, and more. If you've never used or even heard of a resistance band, working out with one might seem a scary concept. It might be hard to imagine how something like a fabric band can significantly enhance your training, but when it comes to building strength effectively, switching things up is vital. And a little change really can go a long way. Incorporating resistance bands into your workout can make a real difference if you're experiencing a plateau or you're feeling a little bored of your routine. And best of all, it's easy to do. Some exercises are illustrated below for reference and always choose the resistance that matches your current fitness level, not the level you're aiming for.
- Front Squat: Stand on the long resistance band with feet slightly wider than shoulder-width. Holding an end in each hand, bring the top of the band over each shoulder. Sit straight down, chest up, abs firm, pressing knees out over your toes. Rise back up to the starting position. Repeat for 10–12 reps.
- Leg Extension: Kick it up a notch with this quad builder. Anchor a long resistance band in a low position on a support (like an incline bench), looping the other end around your ankle with the band positioned behind you. Step away from the anchor to create tension on the band and place your feet hip-width apart. Shift your weight to your left foot and lift the right leg from the floor. Extend knee until it straightens out in front of you. Slowly return to the starting position. Repeat for 10–12 reps before switching legs.
- Glute Bridge: Salute those glutes! Loop a hip resistance band around your legs right above your knees. Lie face up with your feet on the floor, bending your knees to 90 degrees. Raise your hips until your shoulders, hips, and knees align, contracting your glutes through the entire movement. Do 15–20 reps.
- Crossover Kicks: Loop the long band around one foot and place the other end under your palms. Begin on all fours and lift right leg to your side at a 90-degree angle. Pause, lower it to start position. After the first set, repeat but with smaller pulses. Extend the same leg out in line and parallel to the ground, lift it upwards before crossing it over your left leg and lowering it down. Return leg so it’s straight out behind. Do 10 reps on each side.
- Duck Walks: Place the hip band just above your knees. Stand with your feet hip-width apart. Bend your knees a few inches and hinge forward at the hips, keeping your abs engaged and glutes tight. Take 10 steps forward. Take 10 steps backward. Continue walking forwards and backwards for about 5 times.
- Reverse Hyperextensions: Loop the hip band just above the knees. Start with your hips resting on the pad or bench below you. Grasp the bench or pad below you and squeeze your glutes, hips, and core as you raise your legs up behind you in unison. Pause momentarily at the top before slowly returning to starting position. Keep your knees and feet the same distance apart throughout the entire movement. Do 15-20 reps.
- Standing Biceps Curl: Stand with feet shoulder-width apart with feet placed over the middle of the long resistance band. Grab an end in each hand, starting with your arms down at your sides. With palms facing in front of you, pull your arms toward your shoulders by bending at the elbow until you get a proper bicep contraction. Slowly lower back down. Do 12–15 curls.
- Triceps Kickback: Kick back and relax. Just kidding! Stand in a forward lunge position with your right foot in front, positioned over the center of the band. Holding each end of the band, place your arms at your sides with palms facing behind you. Bend at your elbows (keeping them tucked by your sides) until your forearms are parallel to the floor. Next, press down your arms, pushing the band behind your body until your arms fully extended. Lower back down. Repeat for 10–12 reps.
- Overhead Triceps Extension: Kneel on the ground, placing the center of a long resistance band beneath your knees. Grab an end in each hand and stretch your arms up, bending your elbows, so your hands are positioned behind your neck. With palms facing the ceiling, press your arms straight up until they fully extend. Lower back down. Repeat for 10–12 reps before switching sides.
- Pushups: Get in plank position on your toes or knees, draping the resistance band across your upper back. Loop the ends of the band through your thumbs and place your hands on the floor in starting position, facing toward the floor. Have your knees or toes hip width apart. Contract your glutes and abs, then push straight up until your arms fully extend. Lower back down, chest to the floor. Repeat for 10–12 reps.
- Overhead Press: Kneel over the center of a long band with knees shoulder-width apart. Grip each side, positioning your hands at shoulder level with palms facing each other so your thumbs touch your shoulders. Press straight up, rotating your palms forward as you fully extend your arms. Lower back down slowly. Repeat for 10–12 reps.
- Front Raises: Loop the hip band around your forearms and keep your arms at shoulder-width apart. Stand up straight with a tight core and flat back. Begin by lifting your hands straight up in front of you with palms down. Be sure to keep a slight bend in the elbows at all times. Pause at the top to feel the contraction then slowly lower the bands to the starting position. Repeat for 10–12 reps.
- Kneeling Crunch: Attach the long resistance band to a high anchor (such as the top of a door or cable column) and kneel down, grabbing each side of the band. You might want to use a mat or pad beneath your knees for comfort. Extend your elbows out at shoulder level, engage your core, and crunch down toward your hips while contracting your abs. Slowly return to the starting position. Repeat for 10–12 reps.
- Woodchopper: Anchor the long resistance band near the top of a cable column or support. With your right side toward the support, grab the free end of the band with your arms stretched out overhead. In one smooth motion, pull the band down and across your body to the front of your knees while rotating your right hip and pivoting your back foot. Slowly return to the starting position. Repeat for 10–12 reps on each side.
- Anti-rotation Band Walkout: Know when to walk away. Anchor a long resistance band slightly below your chest height on a cable column or support. Grasping the free end, create tension on the band and squat into an athletic stance. Holding the band with both hands straight out in front of your chest and keeping your core tight, step laterally until the band is too tense to go any further. Slow and controlled, move back toward the column to the starting position. Repeat for 10–12 reps on each side.
- Russian Twists: Sit on floor with legs extended and together, center of band wrapped around soles of feet, holding one end of band in each hand. Bend knees slightly, keeping heels on floor, and clasp hands. With abs engaged and back flat, lean back 45 degrees and extend arms in front of you at eye level. Keep resistance band taut. Twist to the left, then the right to complete one rep. Do 15-20 reps.
- Reverse Crunch: Attach a resistance band to a low wall mount. Loop the end of the band around the feet. Lie on your back facing the fixed point. Scoot away from the wall, until legs are only slightly bent. Lift your head, shoulders, and upper body into a crunch position while bending your knees into your chest. Lower upper body back to the ground and extend your legs. Do 15-20 reps.
- Plank Step-Outs: Wrap a hip band around legs just above the knees. Assume a push-up position but bend your arms at your elbows so your weight rests on your forearms. Step your right leg laterally away from your body and then bring it back to center. Repeat the same motion with the left leg. Alternate stepping legs away from and towards the center for the entire duration, keeping your core engaged the whole time. Repeat for 10–12 reps on each side.
- Bent-Over Row: You can do it, put your back into it. Stand over the center of the long resistance band with feet shoulder-width apart. Bend slightly at your knees and hinge at your waist, keeping hips back. Grasp the band ends with your hands facing the outsides of your knees. With elbows bent, pull the band up toward your hips, squeezing your shoulder blades together until your elbows form a 90-degree angle. Lower and row for 10–12 reps.
- Seated Row: Take a seat, but don't get too cozy. With legs extended, place the center of the long resistance band behind the soles of your feet. Grab the band with both hands, arms extended and palms facing each other. Sitting nice and tall, bend at your elbows and pull the band toward your core, squeezing your shoulder blades together. Slowly return to the starting position. Repeat for 10–12 reps.
- Pull Apart: Stand with knees slightly bent, feet shoulder-width apart. Grip the middle section of the band with both hands at shoulder level with palms facing down. Keeping your arms straight, pull the band out and back until your shoulder blades contract. Slowly return to the starting position. Stretch, squeeze, and release for 10–12 reps.
- Pullups: Loop the band around the center of the pullup bar. You can use different bands to provide varying levels of assistance. Pull the end of the band down, and place one bent knee into the loop, ensuring it won't slip out. Take a medium to wide grip on the bar. Pull yourself upward by contracting the lats as you flex the elbow. The elbow should be driven to your side. Pull to the front, attempting to get your chin over the bar. Avoid swinging or jerking movements. After a brief pause, return to the starting position. Repeat for 10-12 reps.
- Standing Pullover: Stand and face a long resistance band anchored above your head. Grab the band with an overhand grip, your hands shoulder-width apart. Keeping your arms straight, pull the band down in an arc while squeezing your shoulder blades together and keeping your core tight. When the band reaches your thighs, pause and then return to the start position. Repeat for 10-12 reps.
- Face Pull: Set up the band attached to a stable unit like a rig or squat rack at about head height or above. Drive back your elbows, staying around shoulder height. On the backside of the rep, your hands need to not only be pulling back on the band, but also driving apart from one another. Control the band back into the starting position. Repeat for 10-12 reps.
Differences Between Bands and Free Weights: There are several vital performance-enhancing features that fabric resistance offers that free weights don't.
- More Planes of Movement: Unlike free weights, fabric-band training doesn't rely on gravity to provide resistance. This increases its potential for use in more functional movement patterns that mimic both every day and sport-specific activities. The ability to target specific muscles either for aesthetic reasons or for sport-specific requirements. It's also important to use fabric-bands for those with injuries, as shifting the force more to particular muscles can help protect certain joints.
- Constant Tension: Another benefit of fabric-band resistance is that it provides continuous tension to the muscles being trained. When you lift free weights in any direction other than straight up and down, the stress on the muscle can actually be removed at certain points in the range of motion. Again, it comes down to the difference between needing and not needing gravity for resistance.
- Linear Variable Resistance: Arguably, the most definable characteristic of fabric-band training is linear variable resistance. This means that as the range of motion of an exercise increases, so does the band's resistance.
How to get started using Hip and Long Resistance Bands:
- Lighter Intensity: Resistance bands are also ideal for stretching, as well as upping the intensity of your HIIT workouts without burning yourself out in the early rounds. Increase your heart rate and fat burning potential by incorporating them into cardio exercises such as banded walks, ankle-banded jumping jacks, and jumping squats. Trust us, you'll be feeling the burn.
- Medium Intensity: For regular gym-goers looking to change up their training. Maybe you're used to using free weights and machines, but you're not seeing the same progress you once were. The dreaded plateau.
- Heavy Intensity: Are you tough enough? Don't fear the heavy resistance band - if it's a struggle right now, you might have a little way to go, but don't give up. For the ambitious weightlifter, adding a heavy resistance band is particularly beneficial for lower body workouts when it comes to engaging the intended muscle groups properly. Try incorporating a heavy resistance band when performing squats, hip thrusts, and crab walks.
Finally, practice proper technique when you work out with resistance bands, and as you progress, continue to challenge yourself by increasing the resistance. With any type of exercise, you have to maintain proper form and posture, just like you would if you were using an exercise machine.
Keep in mind that reps and resistance may change based on the individual. Still, to get the most out of a resistance training session, you need to take your muscles to fatigue.
Just remember, everybody starts somewhere, and we're here to help.
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