Dumbbells and barbells might get the spotlight when it comes to popular fitness equipment, but resistance bands should not be taken lightly. This tough piece of rubber can be made a part of any serious workout regardless of your fitness goals. In fact, resistance bands are particularly useful for fat loss, muscle toning, and making your current exercise routine much more difficult.
Let’s take a look at the benefits of resistance bands, how to use them, and a workout to get you started today.
Benefits of Resistance Bands
Before we jump into how to use resistance bands, let’s talk about why they are a worthwhile investment.
Cost-Effective: For those looking to build a gym on a budget, resistance bands are one of the best investments that you can make. You can easily find an entire set for twenty dollars, but if you want stretch your money further, better brands typically cost around seven to ten dollars per band. The cost isn’t staggering, and the bands will last you many years, not a few months.
Take Them Anywhere: Resistance bands are the most portable piece of fitness equipment that can also help you sculpt your physique. You can literally put your gym in your purse. Since they were made to take a beating, you’ll find that resistance bands can be squashed into any suitcase or bookbag. That means you can continue exercising when you’re traveling for business or pleasure.
Increase Intensity of Normal Exercises: One of my favorite uses for resistance bands involves making traditional exercises more challenging. I do this in one of two ways: First, I use a resistance band during basic compound movements such as bodyweight squats or push-ups. The other way to use resistance bands to upgrade your workout is to attach them to a barbell or dumbbell so that you have an insane eccentric (lowering) pull from the bands. You’ll see this in the workout below when we combine a kettlebell and resistance band.
Ideal for Beginners / Rehabilitation:If you’re new to fitness or if you have to relearn what your body once knew, resistance bands are an excellent option. They are comfortable to use, unlike dumbbells or barbells, which can leave marks and bruises. You can easily select the resistance band that matches your physical ability as you move through foundational exercises.
Lowest Risk of Injury: Continuing with the point above, resistance bands offer the lowest risk of injury compared to all other pieces of fitness equipment. This is important if you’re new to fitness, going through rehabilitation, or elderly with medical restrictions.
How to Use a Resistance Band
Ready to buy your first set of resistance bands? As soon as you open the box for your bands, you might be a bit confused as to how to use them. Here are the basic instructions for the two most common types of resistance bands: with and without a handle.
Band Only Instructions:
Bands without a handle will look like a big rubber circle. Don’t be intimidated by it. Think of the circle as two points: Point A or the bottom of the band and Point B or the top of the band. Depending on the exercise, you’ll step onto the middle of the band (Point A) or you may attach the band to a chair or other form of support. Point B would be where you put your hands. Let’s use the bodyweight squat as an example:
· Step into the middle of the band. (Point A)
· Make sure that your feet are shoulder width apart.
· Grab on to the top of the band with both hands. (Point B)
· Extend your hands and the band overhead.
· Bend at the knees and drive your hips back as you squat down.
· You’ll feel tension throughout your legs.
· Pause once your thighs come to parallel or just below parallel.
· Slowly stand back up, making sure that your hands stay in the air.
Band with Handles Instructions:
Resistance bands with handles might feel a lot more familiar, especially if you have experience with dumbbells. The same idea applies here in that the middle of the band is Point A, but the individual handles would be Point B. Let’s use another exercise as an example. Here’s the resistance band curl:
· Hold each handle in one hand.
· Step on to the middle of the band with both feet.
· Your feet can be close together but not touching.
· Keep your arms at your side with your upper arm tight against your ribs.
· Bend at the elbow and feel the tension in the band.
· Without moving your upper arm from your side, curl the handle up towards your shoulder.
· You’ll feel the tension in your bicep muscles.
· Pause at the top and slowly return to the starting position.
Resistance Band Brand: My Recommendation
If you’re feeling confident about using resistance bands and you’re ready to go shopping, I recommend XD resistance bandsfor your first pair. I’ve been using the XD brand for years and if I have to replace a band, they will be my first choice. Here’s why I love this set of resistance bands:
Insane Resistance:The XD brand has a variety of resistance bands that range from twenty pounds of resistance all the way to 150 pounds! That’s more than most commercial gyms have on their dumbbell rack. Don’t worry: These aren’t the only numbers. No matter your experience and physical ability, you’ll find a band that’s right for you.
Super Durable: Despite going through hundreds of client sessions – not to mention my own workouts – my XD resistance bands are still going strong. These things are built tough as nails. I’ve even used them outside in local parks when the weather allows and they still aren’t showing any signs of wear.
Available in Short Length: XD is the only brand of resistance bands that I’ve found that offers shorter length bands. A shorter length band is going to be a life saver for shorter people. Or if you prefer that insane tension without having to wrap up your band, the shorter span is for you.
Resistance Band Workouts
You’ve armed yourself with a sturdy pair of resistance bands, and now all you need is a workout to accompany them. For each of the following exercises, perform between four to six sets of 15 repetitions. Do this workout three or four times per week.
Wrap the middle of your resistance band around a sturdy form of support such as a pole. Take a shoulder-width grip on your band. Stand tall with a tight core and a neutral gaze. Pull the band in towards your chest. Pause for a moment then pull the band apart, increasing the tension in your chest, shoulders, and arms. Bring your hands together and return to the starting position.
Wrap the middle of your resistance band around a sturdy form of support such as a pole. On the ground, turn so that you are held up by your left forearm and left foot. Take the handle of the band in your right hand just above your head. Focusing the tension in your lats, pull the band down and back. Pause and contract the back muscles before slowly extending the band overhead again. Once you finish your 15 repetitions, switch sides so that you are balancing yourself on the right forearm and right foot.
Step into the middle of the band, making sure that your feet are shoulder width apart. Grab on to the top of the band with both hands and extend overhead. Bend at the knees and drive your hips back as you squat down. You’ll feel tension throughout your legs. Pause once your thighs come to parallel or just below parallel. Slowly stand back up and as your knees start to straighten, turn towards the left side. Push your hands in the air then repeat. Alternate the direction upon standing up moving from the left side to center to the right side and back again.
Attach the top of your band to the handle of a kettlebell. Step into the middle of the band, making sure to move your feet to shoulder width and toes pointed out. Stand tall with a tight core. Grab on to the top of the kettlebell with both hands and slowly lift it up towards your shoulders. Pause at the top then slowly lower the kettlebell down, fighting against the eccentric pull from the bands. (This one is going to burn!)
Do You Have Experience with Resistance Bands?
Do you use resistance bands as a part of your workout? If so, what benefits have you noticed? Are you new to resistance bands? What questions do you have that I can answer so you can get started? Let me know in the comments below!