We are the resistance … band users! Or at least we will be, after reading this article. Resistance band exercises don’t get as much credit as they deserve and they’re not as easy as they look.
These bands allow your muscles to experience both eccentric and concentric contractions, for a more well-rounded burn.
Want to learn how to start and why you should incorporate some band training every so often? We’ve got you covered.
Why Use Resistance Bands?
Most men think of big weights, either bars or dumbells, when it comes to working out. That’s how you get muscles, right?
Yes … but it’s not the only way. Weights are good for certain exercises, but they can put strain on your hands, wrists, and forearms unnecessarily.
In some circumstances, dumbells make moves awkward, like when you need to hold the weights close to your body.
Working with resistance bands is a more natural way to engage your muscles. They’re also a lot easier to keep around the house than weight sets – and they’re more versatile.
They come in different difficulties (usually the closer to red the color, the harder it is) and lengths. You can even choose ones with handles and ones without.
Ready to learn some good exercises to do with your new at-home-gym toy?
Resistance Band Exercises
Your core is the … well, core of all the movements your body does. Unless you’re moving a very small set of muscles (like your wrist) your core is likely involved.
So it makes sense to start out your workout with something for your core. Here’s how to do it:
1. Standing Core Twists
Stand with your feet shoulder-width apart with the band under the middle of your foot.
Pull each handle up to the middle of your chest, with your arms bent and elbows by your side.
Keeping your hips as front-centered as you can, twist to one side, keeping your hands and arms still, only twisting your torso.
Keep it slow and controlled – especially on the way back. Repeat on the other side and do 2 sets of 15.
2. Shoulder Stretch/Extension
Now that your core is warm and your body is a little looser, let’s work on another large muscle group that’s active in many movements: your shoulders.
Keep the band and your feet where they are, and bring your arms out to your side (holding a band handle in each hand).
Imagine that you’re doing a lat-pull down on the long-bar at the gym, but you’re starting at the bottom of the movement.
Now, using your shoulders, extend your arms straight up and in, like you’re showing someone the kick is good. Try not to roll your shoulders too far up towards your neck.
Repeat 2 sets of 15.
3. Front Squats with Resistance
Let’s do some legs now! Step your feet out a little wider, about 3 or so inches out for each foot.
If you usually go wider for your squat, go a little narrower than usual, by a few inches.
Keep the band under your feet so that the handles are equal length. Grab both handles and pull them behind/beside your body. Rest your hands on the top of your shoulders, so that your elbows are bent and pointing forward.
Then, squat. The added resistance will make the up motion just as effective as the down motion.
Make sure you don’t sacrifice your form and still follow your butt back, knees over ankles rule.
4. Side Leg Lift
Now, find some sort of bedpost or railing where you can loop the band around. Keep it low to the ground – about four inches or so high.
If you can’t find anything like this, you can close one end of the band in a door (handle on the inside) and walk out until there’s tension on the band.
Then, loop the handle of the band around your foot. If you can get it to the middle of your shoe – great. If not, it’s fine to keep it on the toe.
Now, stand so that the foot with the handle on it is on the outside. The band should be a straight line, sideways towards you.
Step your front foot out in front about four inches, so the band has room to move. Now, keeping your hips stable, lift your banded leg to the side, like you were doing a slow-motion one-legged jumping jack.
Bring your leg up and down slowly, not letting your foot re-touch the ground until you’re done with your reps.
Switch sides and do your leg side-lifts on the other leg!
5. Standing Biceps Curl
Let’s give your legs a break for a minute and let your arms burn. Stand with your feet shoulder-width apart, the band under the middle.
Hold the handles in each hand, palms facing away from you, starting at your hip. Bring each handle up to your chest, bending your elbows but keeping them close to your body.
Do two sets of 15 of these classic bicep curls before moving on.
6. Bent-Over Row
Let’s work on your back now, on the lower muscles the shoulder exercise didn’t activate.
You’ll stay in the same foot-position as you were, but bend your knees slightly and bend forward at the waist.
Keeping your back straight and your head aligned with your spine, let the handles of your resistance band rest just above your knees.
Then, pull your elbows back and up towards your spine, like you were trying to show off your chest. Do two sets of 15 of these rows.
If you need more inspiration for band exercises, check out this workout.
Resistance Bands – Not As Easy as They Look
Do this whole set of exercises, then do it one time over, if you’re not feeling burned out.
Since these resistance band exercises do have less weight, you’ll need to do more reps than if you were lifting heavy.
Now that you know some good exercises to do, pack a resistance band in your work or travel bag – and you’ll be able to do a quick muscle building workout wherever you go!