Whether you want to use resistance bands to build muscle when strength training or recover from an injury, our tips and tricks from fitness trainers will up the ante of your workouts and make you stronger.
In fact, the humble resistance band is a cost-effective and easy way for people of just about any fitness level to isolate, tone and strengthen muscles. They are incredibly effective tools for strength training and are often used in physical therapy to aid injury recovery.
They can lend resistance to simple strength training exercises, help you improve flexibility, and add to the benefits of stretching by releasing muscular tension. Basically, resistance bands are the whole package.
But despite their simplicity, it’s not always clear how’s best to use them. Not only that, but not all resistance bands are created equal, and different types are better for some things than others.
Never fear, though. We’ve asked fitness trainers Emma Obayuvana and Alice Miller to share their top tips and favourite exercises, to help you get started with your resistance band workout and join the revolution.
HOW TO PICK YOUR PERFECT RESISTANCE BAND
The most common types of resistance bands you’ll see are power resistance bands (also known as loop bands) and free bands. Power resistance bands are large loops that look like oversized rubber bands. They are used for a whole host of reasons, ranging from stretching to strength training, physical therapy to intensive full body workouts, and are effective for burning fat and improving muscle endurance.
Free bands, sometimes called therapy bands, are lighter and do not loop, although you can tie the ends in a knot for certain exercises. They are often used in rehabilitation, but they are also useful for muscle toning, strengthening, and improving flexibility, so you’ll likely see a lot of them around the gym.
There are also long tubes with handles and figure 8 resistance bands. These are both made to mimic exercises and movements you do on machines and with dumbbells, and are great for working on your form and improving your range of motion.
BEST EXERCISES FOR A WHOLE-BODY WORKOUT
Many resistance band exercises can be done with whichever band works best for you – although you may have to tie or loop them to get the desired effect. The important thing is that you use the right band for your body.
Check out our resistance band exercises for a full-body workout. You can either use them together in a programme, or take your favourites and incorporate them into your gym session.
1. Banded row
- You can do this exercise either standing up or sitting down. Whether you are seated or standing, you need to have your legs straight with the band looped under your feet.
- If you’re doing this from a standing position, you will also have to bend your upper body forwards at your hips. Now keep your upper body still, and pull the ends of the band upwards in a rowing motion.
- Return, and repeat around 10 or 15 times.
2. Banded glute bridge dips
- To start, you need to lie on your back, with knees bent, feet flat on the floor, and the resistance band tied around your thighs just above the knees.
- Then, pressing your weight into the floor through your heels, push your hips up.
- Your body should form a straight line, from your knees to your shoulders.
- Squeeze and hold for a second, before lowering down.
Repeat 10 times
3. Front squat
- Squatting with a resistance band is a great way to vary this staple gym exercise. One variation involves looping the band under your feet and holding an end in each hand.
- Keep your hands together in front of your body at around chest height, and then bend your legs while keeping your upper body straight.
- Push through your glutes towards the floor, and then return.
- You can also tie the resistance band around your thighs, just above your knees and do the squat like that.
Repeat 10 times
4. Lateral band walk
This exercise requires the same sort of form as a banded squat.
- Again, loop the band under your feet and hold the ends in front of your body, at about chest height.
- Bend your knees in a squatting position, but don’t go all the way down.
- Instead, hold the position and walk sideways.
- Take 10 steps to the left, before doing the same to the right.
5. Bicep curls
Another variation on a gym classic, this is a great way to build up and strengthen the muscles in your arms.
Standing on the band with the ends in each hand, curl your arms upward and return to the starting position.
You can make this exercise as easy or as hard as you need. If you stand on the band with both feet and a wide stand, you can ramp of the difficulty. To make it easier, simply stand on the band with one foot.
6. Chest press
To do a chest press with a resistance band, sit in a chair with the band wrapped around the back, holding each end in one hand.
- Keep your arms at chest height and shoulder width apart, with your forearms parallel to the floor.
- Then simply push your arms outwards to straighten them, before moving them back to where they started in one controlled movement.
Repeat around 10 or 15 times
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