If the first thing that pops into your head when you think about resistance bands is a retirement home, don’t worry, you’re not alone. You are, however, mistaken. Resistance bands got a bad rap somewhere along the way, but they are actually useful for anyone and you can use them anywhere.
Free weights will likely always remain the darling of anyone aiming to put on mass, but resistance bands do have their advantages. For one, it’s much easier to pack resistance bands in your suitcase than a dumbbell! This means, no matter where you are, if you have resistance bands, you never have an excuse to skip a workout.
The greatest advantage to resistance bands training, however, is that resistance is maintained through every part of the motion. This increased tension throughout both the concentric and eccentric part of the exercise results in better range of motion strength and more complete muscle stimulation. One disadvantage is that you can’t perform your near max lifts.
To select your bands, make sure you select a resistance that is proportionate to your strength and the exercise you’re doing. Before you start your workout, secure the band so that the length will provide resistance, even at the bottom of the movement.
Here are a few exercises we recommend for each muscle group:
Bench Press – Secure the band under the legs of a bench and lie on the bench, face up. Grab the ends or a handle in each hand and position them at shoulder height with your thumbs touching the front of your shoulders. Push your arms up into a full extension moving your hands toward each other at the top, but not touching. Slowly lower back down to the starting position.
Cable Crossover – Wrap the band around a stationary post or pole so that one end or handle is on each side. Stand facing away from the pole with an end/handle in each hand. Raise your arms out to the sides with your palms facing forward. Keeping only a slight bend in your elbows, bring your palms together in front of your chest. Slowly return to the starting position without letting your arms fall behind your body.
Curls – Stand over the center of the band with your feet shoulder-width apart. Grab an end/handle in each hand, starting with your arms at your sides. With your palms facing up, pull your arms toward your shoulders by bending at the elbow. Slowly lower back down to the starting position.
Triceps Extensions – Sit on a chair or a bench with the center of the band beneath you. Grab an end/handle in each hand and bend your elbows so your hands are positioned behind your neck, palms facing up. Press your arms straight up until they are fully extended, then slowly lower back down to the starting position.
Upright Row – With your feet over the center of the band and shoulder-width apart, grip each end or handle and hold them about thigh height with your palms facing down and hands touching. Keeping your hands together, pull the band straight up in front of your body to shoulder level, bending your elbows to form a high “V.” Slowly lower back to the starting position.
Shoulder Press – Stand over the center of the band with your feet shoulder-width apart. Grip each end or handle, positioning your hands at shoulder level with your palms facing each other and your thumbs touching your shoulders. Press straight up, rotating your palms to the front as you extend straight up. Slowly lower back to the starting position.
Row – Sit on the floor with your legs extended. Place the center of the band behind the soles of your feet. Grab the ends or handles of the band in each hand, arms extended and palms facing each other. Sit up nice and tall and pull your elbows in along your body, stretching the band towards your core. Think about squeezing your shoulder blades together, then slowly return to the starting position.
Squats – Stand on the band with your feet slightly wider than shoulder width. Holding a handle or end of the band in each hand, bring the top of the band over each shoulder. Your elbows will be pointed out straight in front of you. Sit straight down with your chest up and your abs tight, pressing your knees out over your toes. Rise back up to your starting position.
Calf Raises – Stand with the band under the toes of each foot. Create tension in the band by taking an end/handle in each hand and stretching it to your shoulders. Keep your hands by your shoulders and raise up onto your toes. Slowly lower back down.
Glute Bridge – Tie a band around your legs, or use a shorter length that remains tight when your legs are shoulder-width apart. Lie on your back with your feet flat on the floor, bending your knees at a 90-degree angle. Press your hips straight up until you form a straight line from your shoulders to your knees, contracting your glutes throughout the movement.
Weighted Sit-ups – Fix the band around the base of a decline bench. Both the band and your head should be at the lowest point of the bench. Grab an end/handle in each hand and pull the resistance bands across your body so your elbows are tucked in, your palms are facing down and your hands are touching. Keep your hands in place as you perform a sit-up, then slowly lower back to the starting position.
All readers are advised to consult their physician before beginning any exercise and nutrition program. BPI and the contributors do not accept any responsibility for injury sustained as a result of following the advice or suggestions contained within the content.