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The Basics of Resistance Bands: Easy Exercises You Can Do Anywhere

Finding time to exercise can be challenging, so convenience and versatility are important. While a fancy gym membership or expensive group class can be fun, they aren’t necessary to stay in shape. This one piece of equipment can work your entire body. And the best part? You can use it anywhere.

Why use resistance bands?

Resistance bands are one of the most versatile, and underrated, pieces of gym equipment. If you aren’t using them, here are just a few reasons you should start.

  • Resistance bands can be used at home, in a park, at the gym, or even while traveling. They are lightweight and compact, so you can take them anywhere.
  • Exercise bands are affordable. You can buy a variety of sizes, and they often come in bundled packs that are only a few dollars per band.
  • You can achieve a full-body workout with just one resistance band, which means you can avoid stockpiling a mass of heavy, bulky equipment.

Resistance band exercises

Are you hooked yet? There are a variety of resistance bands out there, but the three most popular types are looped resistance bands, elastic band tubes with handles and mini bands. After you choose your band, the next step is making sure you are properly using the resistance band to engage and strengthen your muscles.

The eight exercises below will give you a full-body workout. They should be performed in a slow and controlled motion, to increase the time the muscle is under tension and reduce the risk of injury. Try aiming for 10 to 20 reps per exercise.

Chest press

A classic chest press engages the pectoral muscles, or the chest. This exercise is commonly done with a barbell or dumbbells. To do this exercise with a resistance band, use a loop band or tie together the end of a long resistance band.

  • Lie on your back on the floor with your knees bent and feet planted firmly on the ground.
  • Loop the resistance band around your upper torso and hold part of the band with each hand out in front of you.
  • Begin with your hands extended up towards the ceiling. Then bend your elbows to 90 degrees or until they touch the floor.
  • Push up towards the ceiling and return to starting position.

Shoulder press

A seated shoulder press engages the shoulder muscles.

  • Start by sitting in a chair with the center of the band under your bottom.
  • Hold one end of the resistance band in each hand, with your arms out to the side at a 90-degree bend.
  • Press your hands toward the ceiling and return to a 90-degree bend to complete the movement.

Bent over row

A bent over row engages the back muscles.

  • Start in a standing position with the center of the band under your feet.
  • Bend at the hips until your torso is parallel to the floor.
  • Grasp one end of the band in each hand and pull your hands in towards your sides, until your arms reach a 90-degree bend.
  • Return to starting position.

Reverse fly

A reverse fly engages the rear deltoids, or back of the shoulder.

  • Start in a standing position with your arms straight out in front of you, shoulder-width apart.
  • Grasp one end of the resistance band in each hand so that there is slight tension.
  • Pull your hands out towards your sides, so that your body is in a T position.
  • Return to the starting position.

Tricep extension

Tricep extensions engage the tricep muscle, or back of the arm. To perform a tricep extension with a resistance band, fix the center of the band to a doorway or hook that slightly higher than the top of your head.

  • Grasp one end of the resistance band in each hand, with your arms down to your sides and bent 90-degrees in front of you.
  • Pull your hands down and back until your arms are straight at your sides.
  • Return to the starting position.

Bicep curl

A resistance band bicep curl can be done seated or standing. Simply loop the band under your feet or chair and grasp one end of the resistance band in each hand so that there is slight tension with your arm straight.

  • Start by bending your arms and pulling the resistance band up toward your shoulder.
  • Slowly return to the straight arm position to complete the exercise.

Banded tube walks

Banded tube walks engage the abductor complex, which includes the muscles that make up the outer thighs and buttocks.

  • Using a loop resistance band, place the band around both ankles.
  • With slightly bent knees, take wide steps from side to side.

Glute bridges

A glute bridge engages the gluteal complex, hamstrings and core. Adding a resistance band to this exercise makes it more challenging.

  • Begin by lying on the ground with your legs bent and feet planted firmly on the ground.
  • Using a loop resistance band, loop the band around your pelvis, holding the band down with flat palms to the ground.
  • Dig your heels into the ground as you lift your butt off the ground.
  • Hold for two seconds at the top, and slowly return to the ground.

Regular strength training is so important for overall wellness, and you don’t need a gym membership to do it. With just one lightweight, inexpensive piece of equipment, you can have a full-body workout no matter where you are.

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