Exercising in 2020 has become, well, challenging. As the world’s gyms and fitness centres shut their doors, the online fitness industry exploded - everything from home workout routines to home fitness accessories. The resistance band being the poster child of this new home fitness movement, and, for good reason.
Dumbbells and kettlebells are great, pull-up bars are awesome and who wouldn’t want a rower in their basement, right? While these items are desirable, you may be looking for a home gym tool that doesn’t shatter your wallet (especially in these uncertain times) and that takes up very little space while offering a huge variety of movement possibilities.
This is where exercise bands are the ultimate small space, on-the-cheap, home gym. With one looped resistance band you have everything you need to instantly create a challenging full-body workout. This article offers you the secrets to how you can use resistance bands to achieve the same results you would with “traditional” gym equipment.
How To Use Resistance Bands
Believe it or not resistance bands have been around for a long time, favoured by personal trainers for rehabilitation and for clients new to strength training because they don't put the same amount of pressure on your joints than external weights, like dumbbells and kettlebells, do. So what are the best techniques you can implement to get the most out of your bands?
The best part about resistance band sets is their versatility, you need to make sure to utilise this! Consider doing workouts in a circuit, aim for a pull move (row / pull down / curl), one push move (pushup / overhead press / tricep pressdown) and one leg move (squat / lunge / kick-back).
A dropset is where you start the movement with a higher resistance level and then “drop” the resistance down. As your muscles are fatigued from the initial higher level of resistance the lighter resistance feels, well, harder. For instance, a great dropset resistance band workout for women is the squat, hold the band under your feet and with your hands at your shoulders perform the squat movement for 10 reps. Immediately release the band and do 10 standard squats without the resistance. Do 3 sets. Enjoy the burn.
In summary, the best ways to get the most out of your resistance bands is to utilise push / pull movements in a circuit and to push your muscles to failure through dropsets. We will now go into more specific resistance band exercises for both legs and the upper body.
Resistance Band Exercises for Legs
The major benefit of resistance band training over free weights is the ability to build strong muscle without compromising the joints. Free weight lower body workouts often exert extreme pressure on knees, hips and ankles. Lower body exercises with resistance bands are non-weight bearing, so you can do a full lower body workout or a targeted toning session wherever you are including at home, at the gym or on the road. You can workout in hundreds of different ways. We will cover the most effective below:
Resistance Band Squats
Resistance band squats target your quadriceps and glutes, building strong and toned muscle. Perhaps you have tried free weight squats and have felt pain in your knee joints and lower back? With resistance band squats they are non-weight bearing (you are not fighting against gravity) and so cause less wear and tear on the joints. Like with any exercise it is important to master the form before applying too high a level of resistance to the movement.
Resistance Band Squat Instructions:
- Stand on the resistance band with feet hip width apart, holding the bands handles at shoulder height.
- Maintain a straight spine while keeping your chest up, back flat, butt out, head straight and your elbows out to the side.
- If you’ve never done a squat on the squat rack, bend your legs as if you were about to sit in a chair. Just make sure your knees never travel past your toes to avoid straining you knees.
- Perform 3 to 4 sets with 10 - 12 repetitions.
Standing Hamstring Curls
Work each leg separately for the best isolation and muscle development.
- Secure the bands to a low lying anchor point (such as a door with a door anchor).
- Wrap the band around your ankles (or use ankle straps) and stand three to four feet away from the anchor point.
- Keep your back flat and glutes clenched.
- Bend Each leg to a 90 degree angle as you pull your heels towards your butt.
- Perform 2 to 4 sets of 10 - 15 repetitions.
Donkey Kicks are a great exercise to firm the glute muscles. Using a resistance band will help to maximise the muscle lengthening and strengthening as you kick through each repetition.
- Hold band by handles.
- Wrap the band around one foot and get down on your hands and knees.
- Push your leg back and up (just slightly) until it is straight and parallel to the floor.
Resistance Band Lunges
The lunge is an effective lower body resistance band workout that builds strength in your core, glutes, hamstrings, and quads.
- Position your feet with one foot in front of the other. Stand on the band with the front foot.
- Grasp the handles of the resistance bands and raise your hands up to shoulder height.
- Keep your head and chest up and back straight.
- Lower your hips until your front thigh is nearly parallel to the floor.
- Next, raise your hips and straighten out the front leg.
- Ensure your knee stays over your toes as you lower and rise up through the movement.
- Perform 2 to 4 sets of 10 - 15 repetitions.
In summary, these are the best resistance band exercises for all around toning and strengthening of the lower body – isolating the glutes, hamstrings and quads. You may choose to apply the dropset methodology to these exercises to achieve the best burn while performing the movements.
Resistance Band Upper Body Workout
The versatility of training bands is truly highlighted by the number of upper body workouts possible with a set. From Chest, to biceps, triceps, shoulders and back the resistance band set has you covered. Below we have chosen some of the best upper body workouts.
Resistance Band Bicep Curl
The resistance band bicep curl isolates, strengthens and lengthens the bicep muscle. Perform low resistance, high repetition sets for toning the muscle or heavy resistance, low repetition sets to build solid muscle mass.
- Stand with both feet on a resistance band. Hold the handles of the band in each hand, extended the arms, palms facing forward.
- Slowly curl your hands up toward your shoulders, squeezing your biceps. Keep your elbows tight to the sides of your body.
- Slowly lower your hands back to the starting position. This is 1 rep.
Resistance Band Bent Over Rows
Resistance band Rows when done properly offer an awesome bicep and upper back workout.
- Stand with both feet on a resistance band, about hip-width apart. Hold one end in each hand by your sides, palms facing in toward each other. Bend your knees slightly and hinge forward at the hips, keeping your back flat, arms straight, and hands under your shoulders.
- Bend your elbows to pull the band toward your chest, keeping your elbows close to your body (they should skim your sides).
- Slowly straighten your arms and lower your hands back to the starting position. This is 1 rep.
Resistance Band Chest Fly
The chest fly is an age-old exercise and is taken to the next level with resistance bands.