Resistance band training can be a very effective method of training the body to improve muscular strength and endurance. It can be done very safely and effectively as long as the correct equipment is used, and the correct skills are put into place. Before starting any resistance band exercises the client needs to ensure that they are fit to participate, with GP clearance if necessary.
Choosing the Right Equipment for Resistance Band Workouts
Once starting a resistance band exercise session, it is important to choose the correct resistance band. There are different shapes, sizes and colours of resistance band which all translate to different resistance that you’ll be working against. It is therefore a very good idea to invest in the correct resistance bands that are going to provide you with sufficient resistance for your particular needs. It may be that you have more than one resistance band for different situations and exercises. So it may be that you invest in a number of different resistance bands, each providing a different level of resistance. It is also recommended that you obtain your resistance bands from a reputable supplier and are not tempted to use alternative apparatus to mimic what a resistance band is. Always procure these from a reputable supplier to ensure the correct amount of safety measures are in place.
Benefits of Resistance Band Exercises
Resistance bands can be used as part of a workout alongside bells, free weights etc or they could be used purely for a resistance band workout session, whereby all the exercises could be resistance band exercises. This is obviously up to the individual, whether they choose to incorporate resistance band as part of a workout or to base their workout fully on resistance bands. Benefits to using resistance bands are that they are going to be very light to carry around and reasonably cost-effective to invest in. They are certainly a lot easier to transport around than heavy free weights, and it is a lot more cost-effective to purchase resistance bands than it would be to purchase the free weight barbell equivalents. Also, they are going to be low-impact exercises which may suit someone that is a beginner or someone that is not so confident with heavy resistance. Resistance band exercises could also be suitable for someone returning from an injury or somebody undergoing any kind of rehabilitation. Of course, any rehabilitative exercise must be done with the supervision of an appropriate practitioner.
Targeting Areas with Resistance Band Workouts
Using resistance bands are going to assist the client to really improve the quality of the movement that they are doing because there is going to be a lot of control that they need to use the resistance bands. This is going to engage various stabilisation muscles within the body to ensure a smooth and controlled movement.
In terms of some ideas for resistance band training, you could easily utilise a whole-body approach, setting up a small circuit to target various muscles from the body.
- Squat Exercise - would target the lower body muscles and this could easily be done by standing on the resistance band, feet shoulder width apart, taking hold of the band from each side and performing a squatting motion. The resistance would therefore be applied during the upward part of the movement whilst a controlled return back downwards would ensure a controlled approach. So, squats would be a very good way of targeting the lower body.
- Resistance Band Chest Workout - what could happen here is one could be sitting in a chair, the resistance band could then be put behind the chair, taking hold of the band with each hand and then extending the arms outwards and the resistance would be provided by the bands to perform an effective chest workout.
- Back Exercise – this could be the seated row exercise where you would sit with the resistance band wrapped around the soles of your feet with legs extended out while sitting on the floor, then taking hold of the resistance band from both ends keeping the back straight and pulling the band in towards the body and that would be a seated row exercise targeting the back muscles.
- Shoulder Exercise – this could be a lateral raise where one would stand on the resistance band, feet shoulder width apart, taking hold of the band with each arm and then keeping the arms straight, raising the arms on both sides with the band providing the resistance to perform the lateral raise exercise which would of course target the shoulders.
- Bicep Curl - this could easily be done standing on the resistance band, feet shoulder width apart, taking a grip of the band in each hand, elbows into the side and curling the wrists up towards the shoulders and slowly back down and that will target the biceps.
These are just some examples, there are of course many, many more exercises that could be incorporated into a resistance band workout. But these are some examples which could get one started with a routine.
Overall, we have looked in this blog at how resistance band exercises can be an important part of a training routine and can have many benefits such as improving skill and control of movement and providing a low-impact workout. We’ve looked at numerous exercises to conduct a whole-body approach and above all we’ve looked at how it is always important to choose the right equipment to perform exercises safely. Hopefully this post has given you some useful ideas for your resistance band workout.
Editors Notes - Resistance Band Workout
You may be questions what is resistance band training? And can exercising with resistance bands really work and can it be effective? The answer is YES! Resistance band training is basically exercising with a big elastic band. I always thought that resistance band training would be no good, because it’s not a weight and isn’t heavy. Boy was I wrong! The first time I used resistance bands I was pleasantly surprised how effective they were and how easy you can build and create a full body resistance band workout.
Resistance bands come in different colours, sizes, thickness, and most importantly different types of resistance. Resistance band training means you are working out with bands that provide resistance when stretched. They can be used to provide resistance for strength training, stretching, and rehabilitation exercises. Resistance bands come in a variety of tensions to create different levels of resistance, allowing the individual to adjust the level of difficulty for each exercise, dependent on their current levels of fitness and goals.
They are an excellent piece of low impact equipment that can incorporate stretches, recovery training, bicep curls, push-ups, squats, assisted pull-ups, bench presses, and many other exercises. Just like free weight workout routines they can be used to target specific muscle groups and help build strength. In my opinion they are a brilliant piece of kit that shouldn’t be sniffed at. Resistance bands are lightweight, portable, and affordable, making them ideal for anyone looking to get a good workout in from the comfort of their own home.
The great thing about resistance bands are they can be used pretty much anywhere providing you have handles, and an anchor point such as a strong branch of a tree if using outside, or a door which can be used as an anchor point. I firstly came across exercising with resistance bands at home, during lockdown when I was heavily pregnant. Exercising with resistance bands soon became a part of my regular workout routine. I used them on door handles or over the top of an open door to perform back workouts with resistance bands for example rows, single arm rows, pull downs such as wide grip, narrow, reverse grip, straight arm pulldowns, single arm pulldowns, etc… pull-up, and chin ups. Doors were also used as an anchor point for a wide range of exercises, including triceps extensions, bicep curls, chest presses, and more. Banisters were used, and the end of bed frames were used as anchor points for resistance band exercises for legs, for example hamstring curls and sissy squats. They are fantastic! Whether you wanted to use them as a full body resistance band workout, or a split routine such as push and pull, or if you can be creative enough you can even perform a split routine such as chest and triceps, back and bicep’s, shoulders, legs, and core workouts all using resistance bands. The choices are endless you just need to be safe and effective.
As already discussed it is important to choose the correct type of resistance bands for exercise. In my opinion you don’t need loads of different resistance bands for resistance training. Training with resistance bands is also about the type of exercises you wish to include in your resistance band routine workout, how many sets and reps you choose to include when working out with bands, and the different types of advanced training methods you could also incorporate into your workout with resistance bands. With my personal experience when solely exercising with resistance bands you need 2x light resistance bands equivalent to 7-15kg resistance 2x medium resistance bands equivalent to 10-30kg, 1x heavy resistance band equivalent to 15-40kg and final 1x extra heavy resistance band equivalent to 22-65kg. Unlike weights, when working out with bands you can regulate how far your stretch the resistance bands to control the level or resistance, which will avoid pushing your muscles too hard and potentially causing an injury while undertaking exercises with a resistance band.
If you wanted to use resistance band training with other types of equipment, you can add ankle straps when using resistance band exercise for legs as they are a great way to add intensity to your leg and hip exercises.
Hand weights, such as dumbbells, are also a great way to increase resistance on certain exercises. You can for example perform a banded side raise or bench press with added resistance by holding dumbbells as well as using the resistance bands.
Adding hand weights to your routine can help you see results faster and more efficiently. But working out with bands, handles, door anchors, ankle straps, exercise balls, exercise benches, and hand weights are all great tools for any home gym or fitness routine.
So, what are the best muscles to target in your workout for resistance bands I hear you say? Well like many other resistance workouts you can target all the major muscles groups and perform the most common exercises with a resistance band. Let’s take a closer look at targeting areas that you may want to include in your workout for resistance bands:
Bench Press and Press Ups exercises with resistance bands:
A common exercise with bands to include in your workout for resistance bands are chest exercises with a resistance band like a bench press or a press up exercise with bands. This is a great compound exercise to include in your resistance band workout as it works the pectorals, deltoids and triceps. This would be done similarly to a dumbbell bench press, but you would be using the tension from the resistance band as the resistance. How to use a resistance band to do a bench press? Lying on a flat bench like a normal bench press. Hold each end of the resistance band, making sure the band is doubled over, and each hand is on the inside of the resistance band. Lift the band over your head so the resistance band is stretched around your back with the band just under your shoulder blades. By stretching the band bring both hands which are still holding the ends of the resistance band in front of you in line with your chest with elbows out at 90 degrees. The bands should be resting on your shoulders and in the starting position. Lying on the bench you would then press like you would a standard bench press but you’re stretching the resistance band to create tension and therefore resistance. To increase intensity, you can add resistance band training to your normal barbell or dumbbell bench press. Performing a barbell/dumbbell bench press exercises with resistance bands will not only increase your strength and power, but it will also allow you to push a greater load at the top half of the movement, as well as improving your ability to control the eccentric phase of the movement. This is because you are using more muscle fibres and more force/strength to accommodate the extra resistance when training with resistance bands.
Similarly, you can do this with a press up, but rather than pushing the resistance bands forward away from the body, you are pressing your body away from the floor using the resistance band that is around your back as the added resistance to your body weight that you are already press off the floor.
Lat Pulldown and Seated Row exercises with resistance bands
Another major muscle group is the back and also a great workout for resistance bands. There are a variety of exercises you can include in your back workouts with resistance bands, but my 2 favourite back exercises with bands would have to be the lat pulldown exercises with resistance bands, and a seated row with bands. Predominantly working the lats, posterior deltoids, traps both upper and mid, rhomboids, and biceps. You can make this a be a wide grip pulldown exercise with bands, or a narrow grip resistance exercise with bands to work different areas of the back.
In my back workouts with resistance bands, I like to pre- fatigue the latissimi dorsi muscle first by performing a single arm pulldown exercise with bands on one side, whilst holding the opposite arm in contraction also using resistance band training. Once all reps have been completed on one side, switch and then repeat on the opposite side. Once both sides are complete, you then perform a full lat pulldown (both arms at the same time) using resistance band training.
Another of my favourite exercise to include in my back workouts with resistance bands is the seated row. With this exercise when working out with bands I like to perform what you may know as a death set. This is where resistance band training can be effective, and you can really feel the burn. But how? Good question! How to use a resistance band to make your lats burn? Perform 10reps and on the last rep hold in contraction for 10secs, immediately then perform 9 reps with a 9 sec hold, etc… all the way down to 1reps with a 1sec hold, with no rest until you have finished the last rep. Trust me your lats will be on fire!
Squats and Lunge exercises with resistance bands
Legs is the biggest muscle group in the body, and an important muscle group to target as a part of a full body resistance band workout, or as split routine resistance band workout. As we’ve already had a look at squat training with resistance bands, let’s look at the lunge and how to use a resistance band training. The lunge is a great lower body resistance band exercise for legs, predominately working the quadriceps, glutes, and hamstrings. Performed like a normal static lunge but training with resistance bands. Loop the resistance band over your head so the band is hanging on both side around your neck. On both sides hold the band and have your arms out at 90 degrees with the bands in front of the elbows, so it doesn’t pull on your neck. Step one foot forward into a lunge position with your front foot on the band, so that both sides of the bands have slight tension. This is where resistance band training really tests your lower body strength. When performing lunge on the eccentric phase the tension is on the glutes and hamstrings as they have to control the downward phase of the movement. On the concentric phase the quadriceps are being used to control the upward phase of the movement. To make resistance band exercises for legs more exciting and effective I like to use an advanced training method you may have heard of called partial reps or on this particular occasion Matrix 21s. I know what you’re thinking! How do you use a resistance band for Matrix 21s? Easy! Perform a static lunge using resistance band training but split the movement into parts. Perform 7reps half reps at the bottom of the movement (bottom halves), 7 reps at the top half of the movement (top halves) and then finally 7 full reps of the movement (full range). Just like using matrix 21s for lunges with resistance bands, you can also do matrix 21s for squat exercises with a resistance bands. Again, this training method can be used with just body weight, just barbells/dumbbells and just resistance band training, or you can add training with resistance bands to your dumbbell/barbell lower body exercises to increase the intensity and really feel the effects of working out with bands.