If you want to build a strong and healthy body, regular strength training is key. In addition to supporting lean muscle mass, it promotes everything from bone density to weight loss. But, strength training doesn’t always mean pushing around heavy free weights in the gym. By using resistance band training, you can perform a nearly endless variety of exercises and enjoy a challenging, low-impact workout.
In fact, research shows that adding resistance band training to your weight regimen is actually more effective at increasing strength and power than weight training alone. Also, because bands are available at a variety of tension levels, they can be used for every portion of your workout, from warm-up to cooldown.
“They are great to use during warmups,” says Aaptiv Trainer Benjamin Green, who suggests using resistance bands to loosen up muscle groups that you’ll be targeting during a workout or a competition. For example, performing light resistance band leg movements before running or cycling.
“If I can’t make it to the gym, I will use the bands at home, where I can get an amazing 20- to 30-minute workout,” he adds. “And, last but not least, bands help me stretch my arms and legs.”
In addition to their versatility as an exercise tool, bands are also compact—unlike dumbbells. “One big reason I love resistance bands is that you can travel anywhere with them, as they do not take up a lot of space,” says Green. He notes that this makes them perfect companions for vacations and business trips, or just as a staple in your daily gym bag. Bring a band along for the ride, and wherever you are, you’ll always be able to get in a workout.
At-Home Resistance Bands Workout
As mentioned above, bands can be employed for just about anything—from easy warmups to challenging, total-body workouts that will leave you breathless. Try the workout below—as many sets as you can handle—and see for yourself just how effective bands can be.
Plank With Rows
With this move, “I can target my core, shoulders, and back all at the same time,” says Green.
Secure a band to a fixed object near the floor. Get into a plank position facing the band, with the handle in front of you. Grab and then pull the band into your chest while maintaining your plank. Release the band, then repeat with the other arm for ten reps per side. Green challenges you to keep your balance throughout the entire movement, so try not to let your body or hips move while performing the rows.
This simple move targets your upper back, shoulders, and triceps. It’s a great warmup before any heavy upper body lift, but, with a tight enough band, it’s an effective exercise on its own.
Grab a band with both hands at shoulder-width. Keep your arms straight and raise the band to chest-high. Pull the band apart until it’s flat across your chest, squeezing your shoulder blades through the entire movement. Return to the starting position, and complete ten reps.
Squat to Press
This dynamic move works your legs, shoulders, and back. Be sure to use a resistance band with plenty of give, as you’ll require a large range of motion.
Grab a handle in each hand, and stand on top of the resistance band, with your feet about shoulder width apart. Keeping your hands at shoulder height, squat down until your upper legs are parallel to the ground. Then, stand up and press your hands overhead. That’s one rep. Do ten reps.
Hip Abduction and Adduction
As a multi-sport endurance athlete, Green needs strong hips, and he likes the ability of resistance bands to target his hip flexors, abductors, adductors, and quads.
Secure a band to a fixed point, then loop it around your outside ankle and take a couple steps away from the point until the band is taut. In a controlled motion, move your leg out, then back in to target your outer hip. Do ten reps, switch sides and repeat.
Rotate your body 180 degrees, so your working leg is now on the inside, closest to the band. In a controlled motion, move your leg backward and then forward. Do ten reps, switch sides, and repeat.
A good push-up is a perfect move to strengthen your chest and arms. Add a band to the equation, and now you’re giving your muscles an extra challenge.
Loop the band behind your back, then get into push-up position with the band under each hand. Keep your body in a straight line. Lower yourself toward the floor, keeping your elbows close to your body. As you raise back up, you’ll feel the band kick in, adding extra resistance to the ascent. Do ten to 15 reps.
For targeting your hamstrings, “nothing beats a good hamstring curl,” says Green.
Secure a band to a door anchor or around a post. Lying on your stomach and facing away from the anchor, loop the band around one ankle. Slowly bring your foot toward your glute, then lower it back to the floor. Perform ten reps, then switch sides and repeat.
Add these resistance band exercises on to a workout or when you don’t really feel like doing one but know that you should. They’re easy, effective, and efficient.