If you’ve never tried using resistance bands, it is well worth your while to learn how you can incorporate them into your workouts. Resistance bands are fairly simple, but can seriously help to challenge your body in new ways and help you reach your fitness goals. They are basic rubber bands made in varying degrees of thickness, and can be used to do most any strength-based exercise without the need for using heavy dumbbells.
Top 5 benefits of resistance bands
- Adaptable for any fitness level. One of the incredible benefits of resistance bands is that they can be used by those totally new to strength training or seasoned experts. This is mainly due to the fact that they can be purchased from thin to thick, and you can even use multiple bands at once if you need extra resistance.
- Portable and affordable. While purchasing an entire set of dumbbells to use at home can cost a pretty penny, a resistance band costs around $10. You can even buy a set of bands along with a workout DVD for under $50. Another excellent benefit of resistance bands is that they couldn’t be easier to travel with, so you can use them in hotel rooms, outside at a park, or anywhere you want to get in a quick and effective workout.
- Whole body movements. Any fitness expert will tell you that selecting whole body exercises (movements that target multiple muscle groups) is important if weight loss is your ultimate goal. Resistance bands can be easily used to do just that, as they challenge every major muscle group of the body.
- Switch up your workout routine. Another key element to exercise success is challenging your body in new ways, so as to keep progressing and avoid plateaus. You’ve probably noticed that the exercises that were tough in the beginning slowly but surely get easier, and this is a sign that you need to switch it up. Resistance bands can be alternated with free weights or machines to add a different type of challenge. Read here to learn more about some major differences between free weights and bands.
- Offer an effective workout. Not only are bands great for strength-based exercises, but they can also work your flexibility, range of motion and stamina.
3 exercises to try
Resistance bands can be incorporated into movements you might already be familiar with, so you can easily experiment with these variations.
Instead of using a cable machine, loop your resistance band around any solid surface (pole, tree, etc). Bend your knees slightly keeping your weight in the heels, abs tight and shoulders down, and row back with each hand on one handle of your band. If you need more resistance step back, and vice versa.
Place the resistance band under your feet, which should be just past shoulder width apart, toes forward. Holding the handles, bring them up to shoulder level, and keep them there throughout the exercise. Come into your squat (weight on the heels), and push back up to standing. As always, use a thicker band for more resistance.
Position the band just like you did for the squat, with it under your feet and holding the handles at shoulder level. Instead of squatting, start with your arms at 90 degrees from your shoulders, and press up until they are straight and next to your ears. Return to your starting position, and repeat.
For more ideas of how to use a resistance band, check out this great article. And remember, don’t be fooled into thinking these movements are just for beginners, as they can truly take your workout to the next level.