Resistance bands are elastic, stretchy bands that let you add light strength training to your exercise routine anywhere, anytime. Much like weightlifting, resistance bands allow you a full range of motion while providing tension, helping you flex and grow your muscles. Unlike weight lifting, however, resistance bands provide a portable workout that is infinitely customizable.
Method 1 of 3:
Using Resistance Bands Safely
1.Understand how to use light resistance.
One of the reasons resistance bands are popular is that they can add resistance to almost any part of a workout. Resistance bands work just like weights, except instead of gravity pulling down on your muscles you are fighting the tension in the band. Resistance bands allow you to create tension from any direction as opposed to just down, letting you work out every muscle in multiple ways.
- Resistance workouts are great when you can't get to the gym, have joint pain that makes holding a weight uncomfortable, or want to vary your normal workout routine.
- Tube bands look like rubber jump ropes and have handles on the end for added convenience.
- Basic bands are long, rectangular rubber bands that don't have handles and must be tied or gripped to work.
2. Determine the amount of resistance by the band's color.
Most resistance bands have easy color-coding to help users develop a workout. Usually, the fitness regimen includes starting with a medium resistance band and working up. Though not a perfect system, darker colored bands generally have higher resistance.
Light Resistance: Offer 3-6 pounds of resistance.
Medium Resistance: Offer 8-10 pounds of resistance. This is a good starting resistance.
Heavy Resistance: Offer 10-15 pounds of resistance.
Extra-heavy Resistance: Offer 16 or more pounds of resistance.
3. Adjust your band's position to make the workout easier or harder.
The more of the band you have exposed the easier the exercise will be. This is because the band has more room to stretch. The bands provide the most resistance when they can barely stretch anymore, much like a rubber band is harder to pull on the tighter it is stretched. There are several ways to make bands more effective if they feel too easy:
- Tie a knot or loop in the band to shorten it and increase the resistance.
- Step on some of the band before grabbing the ends.
4. Use slow, controlled movements for perfect form.
You never want to rush or push through an exercise to get it done. Your body should move slowly and fluidly, without rapid or jerking motions. After each rep, return to resting position calmly -- a controlled return is just as important as the initial movement for building muscle.
Focus on good technique over more resistance. Strong form will help you gain muscle much faster than trying to push through harder weight.
5. Work on timed, low-intensity sets.
You want to aim for continuously working for a set interval of time with resistance bands since the weight is often not as difficult as going to the gym. Shoot for 20-60 second sets of working without allowing the band to go slack. You want to feel the burn in your muscles for the last 2-3 reps each time, but not so much that you can't finish.No pain, no gain is a myth. If you feel sharp pain or joint problems, stop exercising and see a sports medicine professional immediately.
6. Learn to tie a basic anchor knot.
Many exercises require that you fasten the band to an anchor, allowing you to pull against this for resistance. Generally, you can use a pole, skinny tree, or doorknob to hold the end of the band in place while you work out. You need to make sure that the anchor can hold your weight and that the knot is strong in order to prevent injury.
- Pull on the band with increasing pressure before starting your exercise.
- Make sure that the anchor does not move when you pull on it.
- Increase tension by shortening up the band before trying to put more pressure on your anchor knot.
Method 2 of 3:
Working out Your Upper Body
1. Do bicep curls.
Place the center of the band under the instep of your left foot and position your right foot about two feet behind you. With an underhand grip on the band’s handles (so that your palm is facing upwards), alternate pulling each hand up towards your shoulder to do bicep curls. You should only bend at the elbow. Repeat 15-20 times with each arm.
- Adventurous exercisers can combine this with a standing lunge to work on their lower body simultaneously.
2.Do chest flies to work on your pecs.
Stand with feet wider than shoulder-width apart, toes out. Wrap the band around a post or tree behind you. Extend your arms to the sides, slightly curved, while holding the band just below of the handles. Keeping your elbows bent, bring your hands together in front of your chest. There will be a space between you and your hands as if you were giving someone a hug. Repeat 15-20 times.
- The further away from the ends that you hold the bands the harder this will be.
- Keep your arms straight and push out away from your body for a modified standing bench press.
3. Do deltoid flies to work on your shoulder muscles.
Stand on the center of the band with your feet shoulder-width apart. Hold the ends of the band with your arms by your sides. Keeping your arms straight, raise your arms perpendicular to your body until they are sticking straight out to the side like you are making a mock airplane. Slowly return your arms to your sides and repeat 15-20 times.
4.Do shoulder presses to improve your upper shoulders.
Stand on the center of the band with your feet together. Hold the ends of the band in your hands, palms up at roughly nipple height. Push your hands straight up to the sky as if you were surrendering. Slowly return them to chest height and repeat 12-15 times.
- Keep your back straight and your palms up as you exercise.
5. Do tricep curls to improve your upper arms.
Stand with your feet together on one end of the band. Pull the other band up along your spine (behind your back) so that the end is roughly even with the back of your neck. Grip the end of the band with both hands behind your head and your elbows up high, above your head. Bending only at the elbow, pull your hands up and above your head. Repeat 15-20 times.
- The further up you stand on the band the greater the resistance, making the exercise harder.
6. Do standing rows to work on your back muscles.
Wrap the middle of the band around a tree or pole and hold both ends with your hands straight out in front of you. The band should be roughly chest height. Bend your knees, feet on the ground, and keep your back straight. With your palms facing inward, pull the band back to your chest as if you were rowing a boat. Slowly return your hands to the starting position and repeat for 15-20 reps.
- The further away from the tree the harder this exercise will be.
7. Do kneeling crunches to work on your abs.
Rest on your knees and shins with your back straight. Wrap the center of the band around a pole or tree slightly above your head. Gripping the band with both hands in a few inches in front of your chest, bend towards the floor. When you are at a 90-degree angle (forming an L), slowly return to your starting position.
- Keep your back straight.
- You want to bend from your waist, not your spine.
Method 3 of 3:
Working out Your Lower Body
1. Do front squats to build quads and hamstrings.
Stand on the center of the band with your feet slightly wider than shoulder-width. Hold a handle or end in each hand, with your hands in front of and above your shoulders, as if you were about to give someone a boost. To do a squat, lower your butt as if you're about to sit down. Keep your back straight and focus on keeping your knees right over your foot. Repeat for 8-12 reps.
- If the band is too long, tie a knot in the middle or choke up on the ends as you hold it.
2. Do leg extensions to build quad muscles.
Sit on a chair or bench, preferably with your back on a slight incline like you were in a pool chair. Hold the band in both hands. Bend your knee back towards your chest and put your foot on the middle of the band. You should feel resistance trying to keep your knee towards your chest. Extend the knee until it straightens out in front of you. Slowly return to starting position and repeat for 8 to 12 reps before switching legs
3. Do Prone Leg Curls for hamstring strength.
Lie belly down and loop a band around your right ankle, anchoring the other end to a door or support (you can wrap it around the opposite side of a doorknob and close the door. You should be facing away from the band, far enough away from the other end that you feel tension. Tighten your core. Then, bend your leg at the knee. You want to bring your heel toward your butt, going as far as you can comfortably go. Slowly return your leg to starting position and repeat for 10-15 reps, then switch sides.
4. Do Glute Bridges to work on your butt muscles.
Loop a band around your legs. Lying on your back, bend your knees to 90 degrees. Your feet should be on the floor. Start with your legs closed, and make sure the band sits flat against your legs. Rise up from the floor with your hips until your shoulders, hips, and knees align. You should focus on contracting your butt muscles through the entire movement. Do 15 to 20 reps.
- Hold the stretch slightly at the top before slowly returning to the floor.
5. Do standing adductor exercises to work your inner thighs.
Tie the ends of the band together. Then, anchor the band at ankle height on your left side by wrapping it around a post or the leg of a heavy piece of furniture. Then, slide your foot into the loop you made. Stand in a wide athletic stance perpendicular to the band and step away from the anchor to create tension. Slide your right ankle across your body, past your left leg, while squeezing your thighs together. Return to starting position slowly, then repeat for 12 to 15 reps. When you're done, switch sides.
- Focus on keeping your leg straight as you work.
- Try this in reverse to work the outer thigh and hip. Push your right ankle out away from your body with your leg straight.
6. Try side-stepping exercises.
Tie the band around both ankles so that you have to resist pulling them together. Get in a strong, athletic stance with your back straight and your knees bent. Walk sideways for 10 steps in each direction, focusing on pushing your outside leg way out and slowly following with the other foot.