Want to get in shape but feel stretched for a long time? Using a resistance band can give you all the fitness flexibility you’re looking for – and more!
With this simple rubberized training aid, you can build strength and muscle mass without investing in fancy, space-consuming training equipment or an expensive gym membership. Best of all, they allow you to do many simple exercises in the privacy of your own home.
Lateral pulldown against the wall
This upper body workout is tailored to work your lats and upper back muscles — minus the weights. How to do that:
- With your back against the wall, loop the resistance band around both thumbs or wrists and stretch your arms straight up overhead.
- Bend your arms at the elbows at a 90-degree angle and extend the band as you bring your shoulder blades together.
- Raise your arms back up to the starting position. Repeat 10-15 times.
If you have shoulder problems, such as rotator cuff problems, be very careful with this exercise and don’t bring your elbows below shoulder height.
This exercise strengthens your glutes, hips, lower back and core muscles for a workout that really kicks. Remark: You need an extra long strap and a gym or yoga mat for this. How to do that:
- Get on your hands and knees. Wrap the resistance band around the sole of your left foot and use both hands to anchor the other end of the band in place on the floor with your body weight.
- Kick your left leg straight back, focusing on pushing the body away, not up.
- Bend your knee toward you and return your leg to the starting position. Repeat 10-15 times and then switch sides.
As with the fire hydrant drill, make sure to keep your back neutral the entire time. If your lower back bends toward the mat, do another exercise.
Side Plank Leg Lift
Do you have any love handles you’re not so in love with? This exercise works your abs, obliques and quadriceps. The obliques are vital stabilizers that help you stay strong and balanced. How to do that:
- Lie on a gym or yoga mat with the resistance band wrapped around both ankles.
- Lift your left hand off the floor and roll to your right side, using your right elbow and the side of your right foot to balance your body weight in the side plank position. Your head, back, glutes, knees, and ankles should form a straight line (don’t drop your head or twist it to your top shoulder).
- Use your core muscles to slowly bring your left leg up to the ceiling and back down. Repeat 10-15 times, then work the other side.
Modify this move by keeping your lower hip on the floor or bringing it back to the floor while bringing your feet together each time.
Picture a dog lifting its paw to relieve itself against a fire hydrant, and it’s easy to see how this glute-toning move gets its name. How to do that:
- With the resistance band wrapped around your lower legs, sit on all fours on a gym or yoga mat. Make sure your hands are under your shoulders and your knees are under your hips.
- Keeping your knees bent, lift your right leg up and out to the side, hips and shoulders parallel to the floor.
- Lower your right leg back to the starting position without your knee touching the floor. Repeat 10-15 times and then switch to the other side.
Keep your core tight throughout the movement. If you find that your spine is bending, causing your stomach to sag, choose another exercise as it can hurt the lower back.
5. Standing Abduction
The abductors on the outside of your hips make it easier to step sideways, which we do a lot. This exercise can help strengthen those important muscles. How to do that:
- Pull the resistance band just above your knees. Make sure your head is up and your spine is straight. Stand by a wall if you feel off balance.
- With both feet facing forward, extend your left leg out until there is tension in the band. Hold for one count, then slowly return your left leg to the starting position.
- After 10-15 reps, repeat with your right leg.
Keep your pelvis in neutral when doing this exercise (don’t pull your butt down or extend your butt out). Your abductors work as soon as there’s resistance in the band, so you don’t have to try to bring your leg all the way out to the side — just go as far as is comfortable.
The resistance band takes basic squats to the next level.
- Pull the resistance band up around your lower legs and stand with your feet shoulder-width apart and flat on the floor. You should feel some tension in the band.
- Lower yourself into the squat, making sure to maintain the tension as you bend your knees. Keep your knees over your toes – don’t let them fall in.
- Return to the starting position. Repeat this 10-15 times, slowly and with control.
Before adding any kind of resistance to a squat, be it a band or weights, make sure you can do a regular old squat with excellent form. Don’t come down too deep and keep your chest open. Your knees should not go too much over your toes, as this can damage the knee.
Do you spend more of your day sitting on your glutes than moving them? This workout strengthens your lower back and glutes, improves posture and relieves the aches and pains of a sedentary lifestyle. How to do that:
- Lie flat on your back on a gym or yoga mat with the resistance band just above your knees. With your arms at your sides, bend your knees with your feet firmly on the mat, hip-width apart. You should be able to brush your heels with your fingertips.
- Tuck your chin in slightly so that the back of your neck is long.
- Press into your feet to lift your hips off the floor as high as you can, or until your body forms a straight line from your chin to your knees. Hold for a few seconds and lower your hips back down. To repeat.
This simple exercise is sure to bring novice band users out of their shells. It improves hip mobility as it strengthens the thigh muscles. How to do that:
- Lie on your left side with the resistance band wrapped around your thighs. Rest your head on your left arm.
- Bend both knees into a loose fetal position, making sure your feet are aligned under your buttocks and your hips are stacked on top of each other.
- Using your hips as a hinge, slowly raise your right knee, then lower it back to the starting position. After 10-15 reps, roll over and repeat on the other side.
Do not arch your back with the movement. If anything but your thigh moves, don’t go so high or choose a band with less resistance.
Bent over row
You’ll need a long band with handles for this standing rowing exercise, which works your lats, mid-back, abs and biceps.
- Step on the resistance band with your feet shoulder-width apart and grasp the handles with both hands. Bend your knees so that you are at about a 45-degree angle to the floor.
- Pull the ends of the resistance band back toward your hips, bending at the elbow and pulling the shoulder blades together. Hold for one count, then slowly return to the starting position. To repeat.
You can also do this with one arm at a time. Spread your feet so that you are in a bent forward lunge position and step onto the band with the front foot. Hold the other arm to the side or put it on your hip and pull the band back with one arm. Make sure the hips and chest are pointing forward and not tilting to the side.
Benefits of Using a Resistance Band
- It is handy. Resistance bands are inexpensive and perfectly portable, so you can maintain your fitness goals anytime, anywhere.
- It’s user-friendly. Resistance bands come in a wide range of strengths and can be adapted to suit any fitness level. Unlike dumbbells, three or five different resistance levels fit in your drawer!
- It’s low-key. You reap the benefits of strength training with much less wear and tear on your joints and spineAs long as you do the exercises right.
- Much variation. Resistance bands allow you to work on different muscle groups without a room full of fitness equipment.
- Reduced risk of injuries. Warming up with resistance training improves heart performance and prepares your muscles for a workout. It also improves core body stability and strength.