Resistance bands are some of the most versatile tools for creating a full body strength routine. The origins of band training lie within the realm of physical therapy and rehabilitation; bands are still used extensively within those fields to this day. The bands’ elasticity forces you to maintain a very controlled eccentric phase for each exercise (this is the negative or “down” phase of an exercise). This makes it supremely effective, not only for building muscular strength, but also strengthening tendons and developing joint stability, and makes band training incredibly safe for all levels of fitness, including for those recovering from an injury.
Another advantage of band training is its concept of “accommodating resistance”. This means that as the range of motion of an exercise increases, so does the tension created by the band. This provides a unique and powerful strength stimulus to the body by creating peak tension at the end range of a movement. (A few reps of the exercises below and you’ll know what we mean by peak tension!)
The cost and accessibility of bands (like this set from #FitChick Body Co.) also makes them great tools worthy of investing some time in learning their proper use efffectively. The average cost of a set of multiple resistance bands is around $10-30. The amount of possible exercises you can do in band training is almost never ending. We’ve whittled down the endless pool of movements to give you the nuts and bolts to build a great full body workout.
Resistance Band Good Mornings
The ‘good morning’ is a powerful hamstring and glute strengthener, as well as a great move to improve hamstring flexibility.
1. While holding onto the band, stand on the band (or, rather, in it) with feet shoulder-width apart; the band should be pinned under the middle of your feet
2. Pull the remaining loop around over your head and rest it on the back of your neck
3. Soften your knees, inflate your chest and brace your abdominals
4. Drive your hips back while maintaining the same knee angle until a stretch is felt in your hamstrings
5. Once peak tension is felt (in your hamstrings), reverse back to standing
6. The repetition tempo should be slow and controlled
7. Complete three sets of 15-20 repetitions before increasing the band tension (moving on to a thicker band)
Resistance Band Pull-Aparts
The resistance band pull-aparts exercise is a fantastic shoulder strengthener and will help you build and support shoulder posture to fix and/or prevent sagging shoulders.
1. While standing, grab ahold of the band with both hands face down, slightly wider than shoulder-width apart
2. The band should be out in front of your shoulders at arms’ length
3. Brace your abdominals and retract your shoulder blades
4. With locked elbows, pull the band apart all the way until it stretches across your chest and your shoulder blades are maximally squeezed together
5. Slowly return the band to arms’ length in front of your body
6. Complete three sets of 10-15 repetitions before increasing the band tension or try executing from a more narrow grip for an added challenge
Resistance Band Side Walking
You may have never felt your butt burn as much as this little gem will get it cooking!
1. Place the band in the same position as you would for a good morning
2. Start in standing position with your feet hip- width apart, toes facing straight and forward
3. Soften your knees slightly, inflate your chest, and brace your abdominals
4. Step to the side as far as your strength allows without losing your forward toe position
5. Slowly lift up the trailing leg and return to a hip-width stance
6. Repeat for 10-15 steps in one direction before returning with the opposite leading leg for an equal number of repetitions
7. Complete two to three sets of 10-15 reps in each direction before increasing the band tension
Resistance Band Push-ups
If your pushup is becoming a stale part of your strength routine, try this more challenging banded version that will get you sweating in no time (and don’t say we didn’t warn you)!
1. Place the band around your back at approximately shoulder blade-height
2. Keep a hand in each ends of the band and firmly place your hands on the floor
3. Step your feet back into a pushup position so your shoulders are directly above your wrists and your legs are straight, supported on your toes
4. Brace your abdominals and retract your shoulder blades
5. Slowly lower your chest all the way to the floor; as soon as you make contact, press back up strong to an elbow lock
6. Maintain your body in a stable position from your shoulders to your feet with no “snaking”, or, arching throughout the movement
7. Complete three sets of 8-15 repetitions before increasing the band tension
8. If floor pushups are too difficult, place your hands on an elevated surface (like a box or a bench) and execute the above in exactly the same fashion
Each of these powerful strength builders can be done individually or together as a circuit. This approach will allow for added recovery for individual muscles and, as a result, you’ll be able to push harder on each exercise and also elevate your heart rate.