How To Use Resistance Bands

When it comes to working out, most people think that cardio is the most important type of exercise. That opinion makes a lot of sense because cardio works your heart, and your heart is arguably the most important muscle in your body. After all, it’s the one pumping blood around your body and keeping you alive while you read this article!

However, strength training is every bit as important as cardio. That’s because your muscles power every movement you make, from walking to getting out of a chair to carrying groceries. Weak muscles will make many of the tasks you take for granted much harder, if not impossible.

Walking, jogging, group exercise classes, cycling, and swimming are all great cardio workouts, but how do you keep your muscles in good shape?

It turns out there are lots of different strength workouts you can do, using a range of training equipment. Your options include bodyweight exercises, dumbbells, barbells, kettlebells, medicine balls, resistance machines, and even old-fashioned sandbags.

In this article, we explore how to use resistance bands to strengthen your muscles and provide you with a sample workout to follow.

How To Use Resistance Bands

What Are Resistance Bands?

many resistence bandsResistance bands are available in a range of types, lengths, strengths, and materials.

However, whatever type you use, the concept is the same – they’re hard to stretch.

When you lift weights, your muscles have to work against gravity to raise the load.

With resistance bands, it’s the elasticity of the material you have to overcome. Gravity is not an issue.

Type of resistance bands include:

  1. Bands with handles
  2. Closed loops
  3. Short “booty” bands
  4. Rolls of band you can cut to length
  5. Band sets with interchangeable handles

Ultimately, you can use any type of band to increase muscle strength and general fitness, and they are cheap enough that you can buy a few, so you’ve got plenty of workout options.

The Benefits of Resistance Bands

Working out with resistance bands might seem a bit low-tech, but it’s actually a very effective way to exercise. The advantages and benefits of resistance bands include:

Cost – compared to joining a gym or buying freeweights, resistance bands are very cheap. If you want to get fit on a budget, resistance bands are an excellent choice.

Portability – resistance bands are light and compact, so you can take them anywhere. If you want to take your gym with you wherever you go, get some resistance bands. If you work out at home and don’t have a lot of storage space, bands are ideal, and you can pop them in a drawer between workouts.

Versatile – you can use resistance bands to replicate almost any machine or freeweight strength training exercise. You can use them for bodybuilding-type workouts, for high-intensity interval training and circuit workouts, and for fat burning too.

Safety (1) – if you drop a barbell or dumbbell, you could end up injured, damage the weight, or make a mess of your floor. There are no such concerns when you work out with resistance bands.

Safety (2) – working out with bands is easier on your muscles and joints than lifting weights. When you lift weights, you have to overcome inertia to get the weight moving. This shock-loads your body. With resistance bands, the resistance comes on gradually, and there is no initial inertia to overcome. Training with bands is easier on your joints than lifting weights.

How Do I Start Using Resistance Bands?

work out full body with resistance bandTo benefit from any type of workout, you need to do it regularly.

So, to start using resistance bands, you need to plan to work out at least three times a week, and preferably on non-consecutive days, i.e., Monday, Wednesday, and Friday.

This provides a good balance between exercise and recovery.

As a resistance band beginner, you should stick to full-body workouts, which means you’ll do 1-2 exercises for each major muscle group every time you train.

You can start at the top of your body and work down or start at your feet and work up.

There are plenty of workouts online to follow, and we’ve provided one below.

Exercise takes time to work its magic, so you need to plan on being consistent. It’ll take a month or two before you start seeing results, and the longer you continue to exercise, the better your progress will be.

Finally, make sure you start each workout with a short warm-up to prepare your muscles and joints for what you are about to do. A few minutes of easy cardio, such as jogging or jumping rope, will suffice.

Resistance Band Workout

Armed with your resistance bands, you have everything you need to work out at home, in a hotel room, or anywhere you’ve got a few square yards of space. This simple workout trains all your major muscles and is ideal for most beginners.

Exercise Sets Reps Recovery
1 Squats 2-4 per exercise 12-20 per exercise 45-90 seconds between sets
2 Chest press
3 Seated row
4 Romanian deadlift
5 Shoulder press
6 Lat pulldown
7 Kneeling band crunches
8 Triceps pushdowns
9 Biceps curls

Exercise Descriptions

There are two ways to do any exercise; the right way and the wrong way. The right way is safer and more effective. Get the most from your workout by doing each exercise the right way.

1. Squats

squats with a resistance bandSquats work all your major leg muscles, especially your quadriceps and your glutes.

How to do it:

  1. Stand on the middle of your band with your feet shoulder-width apart. Hold the ends of your band at shoulder height. Brace your abs.
  2. Bend your legs and squat down until your thighs are roughly parallel to the floor. Take care not to round your lower back.
  3. Stand back up and repeat.

2. Chest Press

Chest presses work your pectoralis major, better known as your pecs. This exercise simulated doing push-ups or bench presses but using a resistance band instead.

How to do it:

  1. Loop your resistance band around your upper back and hold one end in each hand. The band should run under your armpits. Stand with your feet roughly shoulder-width apart for balance.
  2. Extend your arms and push your hands out in front of you.
  3. Bend your arms and repeat.

3. Seated Row

woman doing seated row with resistance bandSeated rows work your upper back and biceps. As such, this exercise is good for your posture.

How to do it:

  1. Sit on the floor with your legs out in front of you. Loop the band over your feet and hold an end in each hand. Sit up tall; no slouching!
  2. Bend your arms and pull your hands into the side of your abdomen.
  3. Extend your arms and repeat.

4. Romanian Deadlift

This exercise works your lower back, glutes, and hamstrings, collectively called your posterior chain. Like seated rows, this is another useful posture exercise.

How to do it:

  1. Stand on the middle of your resistance band and hold an end in each hand. Your arms should be straight and down by your sides. Bend your knees slightly and brace your abs.
  2. Push your hips back and lean forward, lowering your hands down the front of your legs to just below your knees. Do not round your lower back.
  3. Stand back up and repeat.

5. Shoulder Press

As its name implies, this exercise works your shoulders and also your triceps. It can be done in two ways – kneeling (easier) or standing (harder).

How to do it:

  1. Kneel on the middle of your band and hold an end in each hand in front of your shoulders.
  2. Straighten your arms and push your hands up and overhead.
  3. Lower your hands back to your shoulders and repeat.
  4. Do this exercise standing to put more tension on the band and make it more challenging.

6. Lat Pulldown

woman doing bag with resistance bandLat pulldowns work your upper back and biceps and replicates doing pull-ups or chin-ups.

How to do it:

  1. Attach your band to an overhead anchor, such as a ceiling beam or the top of a door. Hold an end in each hand and kneel down with the band in front of you, arms straight and above your head.
  2. Bend your arms and pull your hands down to the front of your shoulders.
  3. Extend your arms and repeat.

7. Kneeling Band Crunches

While there is nothing to stop you from combining bodyweight abs exercises with your resistance band workout, this exercise uses the same set-up as you just used for lat pulldowns, so it makes sense to include it.

How to do it:

  1. Attach your band to an overhead anchor, such as a ceiling beam or the top of a door. Hold an end in each hand and kneel down with the band in front of you. Pull your hands down to your shoulders.
  2. Keeping your arms bent, flex your spine, and pull your shoulders down toward your hips.
  3. Sit up straight and repeat.

8. Triceps Pushdowns

woman doing triceps pushdownsYour triceps are the muscles on the back of your arms. You’ve already worked your triceps during chest presses and shoulder presses, but this exercise trains them in isolation.

How to do it:

  1. Attach your band to an overhead anchor, such as a ceiling beam or the top of a door. Hold an end in each hand and stand with the band in front of you. Tuck your elbows into your sides.
  2. Extend your arms and push your hands down to your thighs.
  3. Bend your arms and repeat.

9. Biceps Curls

Your final exercise works your biceps, which are the muscles on the front of your upper arms. You’ve worked your biceps indirectly during seated rows and lat pulldowns, but this exercise trains them in isolation.

How to do it:

  1. Stand on the middle of your resistance band and hold an end in each hand. Your arms should be straight and down by your sides. Bend your knees slightly and brace your abs.
  2. Bend your arms and curl your hands up to your shoulders.
  3. Extend your arms and repeat.

Bottom Line

A lot of people think that to get fit, lose weight, build muscle, or burn fat, you have to go to a gym. Those same people also believe that you need lots of expensive equipment to achieve your workout goals.

This simply isn’t true!

Armed with nothing more than a few resistance bands, you can meet almost any fitness goal, even from the comfort of your own home.

Your body is amazing and is made up of over 200 muscles, 600 bones, dozens of organs, and miles of blood vessels and nerves. But, despite this complexity, it can’t tell the difference between doing lat pulldowns on a $20,000 state-of-the-art machine and a $20 resistance band.

Working out with resistance bands is cost-effective, convenient, and may even be safer than lifting “real” weights. Also, you can train on your own without worrying about getting pinned by a heavy barbell during exercises like squats or bench presses. You can use resistance bands to replicate almost any gym-based exercise.

Resistance bands are also ideal for people who travel and need a workout they can take wherever they go. For home exercisers, resistance bands take up very little storage space and are all but silent in use. This is one workout that won’t upset your family or neighbors.

Cardio IS important, but so too is strength training, and resistance bands are a very effective way to strengthen and develop all your major muscles.


References

  1. Fitness Volt, https://fitnessvolt.com/
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Patrick

Patrick Dale is an ex-British Royal Marine and owner and lecturer for a fitness qualifications company. In addition to training prospective personal trainers, Patrick has also authored three fitness and exercise books, dozens of e-books, thousands of articles, and several fitness videos.

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