Some people may brush off resistance bands as just a warmup or stretching tool amidst all the heavy iron in the gym. Others may utilize resistance bands in their regular exercise routine in the gym or at home. Whichever camp you’re in, know that resistance bands can have a beneficial place in your fitness regime for several reasons:
- They’re portable.
- There are different resistance levels to suit your strength levels.
- They are incredibly versatile for strength and flexibility applications.
- You can work out virtually any muscle with resistance bands.
Whether or not you use resistance bands on a regular basis, resistance bands are the perfect travel companion when you want to get in a good maintenance workout without access to a gym. Here is a handy little resistance band workout that you can complete while traveling, at home with the kids, or in your dorm room. Throw in some cardio intervals, and you’ve got a pretty kick-butt workout!
Safety First: You will need to find a secure place to anchor your resistance band for some of the exercises. The best option is to wrap it around a door knob on the side opposite from where you will be working out, and then closing the door. Another great option is to wrap the resistance band around a stair railing if accessible.
Upper Body Exercises — Complete 2-4 sets of 15 reps of each exercise.
Secure the resistance band around a door or stair rail as described above. Hold one end of the resistance band with each hand until you feel moderate resistance. Pull your elbows back while keeping them hugged close to your body. Squeeze your shoulder blades together, keep your shoulders down and back, and keep your forearms parallel to the floor.
Rear Delt Flyes
Hold the resistance band with both hands in front of you at shoulder level. The band should start taut, but not with any resistance. Pull the band outwards until your arms are in line with each other. Squeeze your shoulder blades together and keep your shoulders down.
Hold the resistance band with both hands facing up in front of you, arms at a 90 degree angle. Keeping your elbows in at your sides, pull the band outwards until the end of your range of motion. Squeeze your shoulder blades together.
Wrap the resistance band around your back, just underneath your armpit level. Holding one end of the band with each hand, come into a pushup position, holding down the band under your hands. You should feel resistance in the high pushup position. Complete pushups as normal.
Overhead Tricep Extensions
Step on one end of the band with one of your heels. Hold the other end of the band in your same hand behind you with your elbow pointing upwards. Perform overhead tricep extension by straightening your arm above your head. Make sure to keep a neutral spine (try not to arch your back).
Lower Body Exercises — Complete 2-4 sets of 15 reps of each exercise.
Make a loop with your resistance band by tying a secure knot (but not too tight that you can’t undo it). Loop the band around the tops of your feet and lie on your stomach. Come up to your elbows in a cobra position, keeping your shoulders down. Keep one leg straight on the ground while bending the other leg to perform a single leg hamstring curl.
Place your looped resistance band around your ankles. Lift one leg out directly to the side, keeping your leg straight and foot flexed. Make sure not to lean to either side when lifting the leg. You can keep a slight bend in the standing leg to ensure stability at the knee.
Assisted Pistol Squats
Secure the resistance band around a door or stair rail as described above. Holding the resistance band with both hands, perform a pistol squat by standing on one foot and lowering as far as you can while keeping the spine neutral and knee over toes. Your other foot will be in front of you. Use the resistance band to assist you in keeping balance and getting up from the pistol squat. This is a good progression to a full pistol squat.
Stationary Lunges with Curl
Place one foot over the middle of the resistance band, and place your other foot behind you into a lunge position. Holding the ends of the resistance bands in each hand, lower into a lunge until your back knee almost touches the ground. As you come up from the lunge, pull the resistance bands to perform a bicep curl. Make sure to keep your knee over your toes as you lunge.
Lying on your back with your feet on the ground, place the resistance band over your hips and hold each end with your hands on the ground. Adjust the band so that you feel light to moderate resistance over your hips. Perform bridges by raising your hips and squeezing the glute muscles, and then lowering back down with control. Keep your feet parallel and legs parallel to each other.
Core Exercises — Complete 2-3 sets of 15 reps of each exercise.
Sitting on the ground, bend your knees and place the resistance band under your feet, keeping just your heels on the ground. Clasp the ends of the resistance band between both hands and lean your torso back to a 45 degree angle, or until you feel your abdominal muscles engaged. Keeping a neutral spine (no arching or hunching), twist your torso to one side, bringing the band over as far as you can to touch the ground on that side. Return to neutral and repeat to the other side. Twisting to the right and left is one rep.
Step on the middle of the resistance band with one foot, and clasp the ends between both hands. Squat down while twisting your torso and arms down to the right, keeping a neutral spine. When coming up from the squat, twist your torso and arms up to the left. Repeat squatting down to the right and coming up to the left, engaging your core and oblique muscles. Remember to do the exercise going down to the left and up to the right as well.
Lying on your back, place the resistance band under your lower back. Hold the ends of the resistance band in each hand, pulling them up towards the ceiling. Raise your legs off the ground so that they are almost perpendicular to the ground. Complete toe touches by engaging your abs to reach for your toes and bring your shoulder blades off the mat.
Side Walking Planks
Tie your resistance band into a small loop (so that it is taut when wrapped around your wrists in pushup position), OR just hold the resistance band between your thumb and fingers. In high plank position, wrap your loop around your wrists, or hold the resistance band in your hands. It should be taut without resistance. Perform side walking planks by stepping your hand and corresponding foot out to the side and bringing your other hand and foot in so that you’re back to the original position. Complete a set to the right before changing directions to the left. Make sure to keep your hips slightly raised and your core engaged.
These are fourteen resistance band exercises for a fantastic full body workout wherever you go. But don’t wait until you don’t have access to a gym – if done properly, some of these exercises will strengthen the smaller muscles that you don’t usually hit in the gym, which will help with overall strength, stability, and injury prevention.