Resistance Band Exercises

If you're just starting your fitness program, or looking to purchase your first piece of exercise equipment, I would strongly recommend you start with a set of resistance bands. Resistance bands, sometimes called exercise bands, resistance or exercise loops, resistance cords, and even big rubber bands or stretchy things.

Whether you're doing body weight exercises, barbells, dumbbells or machines, the same principle applies: you're working against resistance. The more resistance, the harder you have to work. With resistance bands, the stronger/stiffer the band or the further you stretch it, the more the resistance so the harder you have to work.

There are many different types of resistance bands. One type looks like a tube which you connect each end to a handle. There are resistance bands in a shape of a loop, like a rubber band. You grab each side, or step on or anchor one side, then pull the other side away. There are also resistance bands that are just a strap, like a roll of tape, which you grab each side a pull apart.

A few advantages of resistance bands over other types of exercise equipment include:
1. Small and lightweight, so very portable
2. Very inexpensive
3. Easy and safe to use, so great for beginners
4. Not only great for strength training, but also for stretching, balance, and physical therapy

Please go to our Resistance Bands Shop to see some of resistance bands available. For any additional questions or recommendations, send me an email and I'll be happy to help.

Following are a few sample exercises for your resistance bands. Following the exercises, I explain the modifications you can make to work for each type of resistance band.

Resistance Band Exercises

For the following exercises, you should be able to perform 8 - 12 repetitions. If unable to do 8, use an easier band. Once you reach 12 repetitions, use a harder band are start to combine bands to increase the resistance. Perform all exercises slowly and always in control.

Where I say to anchor the band, use the anchor that came with your bands to anchor it to a door, or you can loop the band around a sturdy object if your bands didn't come with an anchor.

  • Overhead Press - Stand on the center of your band with feet shoulder-width apart. Hold a handle in each hand, hands at shoulder height and palms facing forwards. Press your hands straight up until you're arms are almost fully extended. Slowly lower your arms to the starting position. If your bands aren't long enough for this exercise, do a single overhead press.

  • Single Overhead Press - Stand, put one foot slightly in front of the other with that forward foot inside of one of the handles (or stand on the tube just below a handle). Hold the other handle in the hand opposite the forward foot, hand at shoulder height and palm facing forward. Your free hand could be over your stomach or to your side. Press your hand straight up, keeping your palm facing forward, until your arm is just short of being fully extended. Slowly lower your arm to the starting position. Repeat with the other side, switching foot and hand.

  • Bicep Curls - Stand on the center of your band with feet shoulder-width apart. Grip each handle with you arms down at your sides, palms facing forward. Slowly bend your elbows, bringing your hands toward you shoulders. Slowly return to the starting position.

  • Standing Chest Press - Anchor your band at about chest height. Stand with your back to the anchor. Grip each handle with your elbows bent and hands at chest height. Step forward to remove any slack from the band. With your palms facing down, elbows up, push band straight out in front of you until your elbows are just short of locked. Slowly bend your elbows to return to the starting position.

  • Front Squat - Stand on the center of your band with feet shoulder-width apart. Or you can anchor your band in a low position. Grip the handles in each hand, placing your hands in front of and touching your chest. If this position isn't comfortable, place your hands just above your shoulders with your palms facing foward. Perform squats, keeping hands against your chest.

  • Lat Pulldowns - Not yet able to do pull-ups? No problem. Anchor your resistance band above your head (a pull-up bar is great for this). Grab a handle in each hand and go down to your knees with your arms fully extended. There should be no slack in the band. Bend your elbows, pulling the handles down. When the handles reach your shoulders, slowly raise your arms back to the starting position.

  • Resistance Push-ups - Body weight push-ups getting a little too easy? Use your bands to add resistance. Drape your resistance band around your upper back. Put your hands over each end of the band. Now do regular push-ups. If you don't feel enough resistance, make the band more taut over your back by pulling the handles closer to each other under your hands.

  • Bent-over Rows - Stand on the center of your band with feet shoulder-width apart, knees slightly bent and back bent at the waist, hips back. Your upper back should be straight. If your not familiar with the correct position for the bent-over row, you may want to check with a personal trainer so you don't risk hurting yourself. Grip each handle with you arms straight down by your knees. Slowly bend your elbows until your hands reach your hips. Slowly return to the starting position.

  • Triceps Press-down - Like the Lat Pulldowns, anchor your band above your head. Grab your resistance band with both hands, elbows bent, at a point on your band making it taut. Leaning slightly forward, drive your hands down until your arms are straight and hands touching the front of your legs. Slowly return to the starting position.

  • Hamstring Stretch - Lay flat on your back. Keep one leg flat on the floor. On your other leg, loop a band around your foot. Holding onto both ends of the band, bring the leg that the band is looped around straight up, keeping your knee locked, until you feel a slight stretch on the back of your leg. Keep your hips on your other leg flat on the floor. Hold for 20 to 30 seconds, then switch the band to your other foot and do the same with the other leg. Another option is to do 8 to 12 repetitions rather then holding the stretch.

  • Crab Walk - Step in-between your resistance loop, or tie your resistance band, with both feet and pull up the loop to just above your knees. Now walk sideways. The loop will cause resistance to the side of your legs.

Tube Resistance Bands with Handles

The majority of the exercises that can be done with resistance bands can be done with tube resistance bands with handles. That's why these are the type of bands I would strongly recommend getting first.

One issue you may run into with resistance bands with handles is making the bands taut for certain exercises. If this happens, stand further away from the anchor. If this doesn't help, you can always grab the band rather then the handle.

If you want to do an exercise that is described for a resistance loop, you may not be able to use this type of resistance band. You can tie the band to form a loop, but the knot may become very difficult to untie, so I wouldn't suggest this.

Strap Resistance Bands

Strap resistance bands don't have those nice, soft handles, but you can still do almost every exercise with them. Just grab the strap wherever you need to hold it. This method of holding the bands many not feel that comfortable, but you will also help develop your grip strength. Personally, I prefer the exercise bands with handles. They feel more like real exercise equipment.

Exercises described for a resistance loop can easily be performed with a strip resistance band by tying the band in a circular loop. You can tie it wherever you want, making the size of the loop flexible for comfort. Even after they've been tied and stretched, you can usually remove the knot without too much trouble.

If you ever need to go to a physical therapist, you'll see these resistance bands. They offer a lot of variety for exercises and stretches for the physical therapist. Plus they offer lots of different levels of resistance, they're cheap, and easy to store.

Resistance Loops

Resistance, or exercise, loops don't offer you nearly the flexibility that resistance bands with handles or strap resistance bands do, but they do have some great exercises that can be done with them better than any other type of band. For one is the Crab Walk (mentioned above). Keeping the loop in the same location just above your knees and do squats, trying to separate you legs during the squat, adding a workout to additional parts of your thighs.

Having both sides of the resistance band connected has other benefits. Think of this as a giant rubber band. Hold it with one hand close to your body and pull away with your other hand. Hold with both hands, arms down, and try to pull your hands as far apart as you can. Hold one hand down and do bicep curls with the other hand. I think you get the idea.

Conclusion

All 3 types of resistance bands described on this page would make a great addition to your exercise equipment (of first type of equipment if just starting out). As mentioned, if I was to only own 1 type of resistance band, that would be the tube resistance bands with handles. That has been my recommendation to anyone that has asked me.

Hope this helps with your decision to add resistance bands to the exercise equipment you own, or to start your exercise equipment collection with resistance bands. For some suggestions of which resistance bands to buy, visit our Resistance Bands Shop page.

Feel free to contact me if you have any questions.

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