If you’re a newbie to resistance training or even rehabilitation training if you’re coming back from an injury, you have heard of resistance bands. And while they may look a little intimidating, this piece of equipment is incredibly easy to operate and can be used for countless resistance band exercises, such as a chest press, squat, pull up, a bicep curl, and many other upper body and lower body resistance band workouts. Read on for more information on how to use resistance bands to exercise, build strength, and more.
“The best way to figure out what you need to do is to first figure out what you want to do.” ― Tony Horton, The Big Picture: 11 Laws That Will Change Your Life
First Thing’s First: Find The Proper Fit For Your Body
Resistance bands (a.k.a. “exercise bands” or sometimes “loop band,” “tube bands,” or even “therapy bands”) come in all shapes and sizes, so before you start on the correct positioning or looking into beginner exercises, be sure that you’ve found a resistance band set that has the appropriate amount of resistance for your body type and fitness level.
Most bands are color-coded according to tension level (light, medium, heavy, very heavy). Each brand may be different, so be sure to do your research and guarantee you’re using the correct type of bands based on how much strength you already have and are looking to build.1
If you’re a resistance band beginner, the first thing you should know is the proper form and starting position when using the equipment. Learning the proper position can help you avoid injuries and ensure that you’re strengthening the proper muscles.
Because you can use resistance bands for so many different types of exercise, there are a few important rules when it comes to ensuring the proper starting position:
- Make sure your weight is evenly distributed throughout your body when doing on-foot exercises.
- Make sure the proper resistance level is being used (You’ll know if the resistance is too much if you feel like your muscles are going to snap back too quickly. Fluidity is key to these kinds of exercises).
- If you’re doing a standing exercise, make sure your hips and shoulders are aligned with your feet hip-width apart and shoulder-width apart for a banded squat.
- When using the resistance bands, always ensure the band is in alignment.
- Stretch, stretch, stretch beforehand to ensure that muscles (yes, from your head to your foot) are being cared for appropriately.
How Resistance Bands Tone The Body
Not only are resistance bands easy to use but they also come with plenty of fitness benefits. Here are just some of the many valuable assets of a resistance band workout:2
- They can support better coordination: Resistance bands are similar to a cable machine, which is what allows you to create tension on your muscles, making it a form of strength training. This repeated movement helps increase your coordination and balance, as well as utilize various muscle groups.
- You can perform a variety of exercises (i.e. legs, arms, chest, etc.): This piece of equipment allows you to adjust your positioning in myriad ways, including the side, overhead, behind, below, and more in order to give you more of a full-body workout.
- You can perform the same workouts as you would with free weights: Whether it’s bicep curls, triceps, chest presses, pull-ups, or shoulder rotations, the possibilities are endless when it comes to what you can achieve with resistance band training.
- They’re inexpensive and easy to carry around: You can find compact resistance bands at most athletic stores or online, and they can easily be transported in your gym bag, car, purse, or even by hand. If you’re more of an at-home fitness person, they don’t take up much storage space and are easy to put away after a workout.
Beginner Resistance Band Exercises
Say you’ve just bought your bands and are ready to get started on your resistance band workout in order to improve your strength training. Here are some great beginner exercises that will have you feeling the burn in no time:
- Resistance Band Bicep Curl – These are great for toning your arms when you don’t have any dumbbells lying around and still want to feel like you’re weightlifting.3
- Stand with both your left foot and right foot on your resistance band. Hold each end in your hands with arms extended, palms forward-facing,
- Curl your hands to shoulder height while simultaneously squeezing your biceps. (Be sure to keep your elbows tight to the sides of your body.)
- Lower your hands back to the starting position. Repeat three sets of 10-15 reps.
- Flutter Kicks4– This is a great workout exercise that can help you tone your abs and legs/thighs at the same time.
- Sit on the floor and loop each handle of the resistance band on both the left foot and right foot. Holding onto the middle of the band with both hands, lower yourself onto your back.
- Lift both legs so they’re almost pointing straight at the ceiling. Scissor your legs up and down, one at a time. You can start on the left leg or right leg, whichever you prefer. (Pro tip: Move slowly and point your toes for maximum benefit.)
- Complete 10-15 reps for one set. If you’d like to change things up or challenge yourself, lower your legs so they’re about 10 or so inches off the floor and do another 10 to 15 reps of alternating your left leg and right leg.
- One Arm Chest Press5– This is a great exercise for working the chest muscles and core that requires you to keep your body steady.
- Wrap one end of the elastic band around a sturdy object behind you.
- Hold the other end in your left hand at chest height, step away from the anchor point until you feel tension on the band.
- With your left arm bent, move the band to come under the arm (the elbow should be bent at a 90-degree angle with the palm facing down).
- Squeeze the chest muscles to press your left arm out in front of you and then return to your starting position. Repeat about 15 reps on each side.
- Lateral Band Walk6– This is a great workout exercise if you want to get stronger legs and glutes.
- Place your looped band above your knees while squatting in a semi-squat. (Be sure your knees are a little over your toes like they are for a typical squat.)
- With your arms forward, chest lifted, and knees bent, take eight steps to your left (leading with your left foot) and ensure your feet stay parallel the entire time. You should feel the burn in your left leg.
- Repeat in the opposite direction by leading with your right foot to balance out your right leg. (Pro tip: Make sure your abs are drawn in to achieve maximum benefit for this particular exercise.)
Your Ultimate How To Use Resistance Bands Guide
When it comes down to it, learning how to use resistance bands is an incredibly easy and safe way to begin your strength training journey. Now that you’re equipped with the proper form and exercises to get you started, it’s time to take your resistance bands exercise routine into your own hands (and the occasional foot) with a workout that’s perfect for you. Remember to stay safe and smart, and as Tony Horton says, “‘best’ means showing up and doing your best without being attached to the outcome.”
When you put your best foot forward on your resistance band exercises and training, you’ll come to find the outcome of your workout feels that much better on your body and your fitness or weight loss journey. So, keep doing your best – it will pay off in the long run.