4 Trainer-Approved Ways to Use Resistance Bands
Look for a simple yet effective way to level up your workouts?
Resistance bands are the ultimate versatile workout tool, creating infinite possibilities to add variety to your routine. Because they can be adjusted to work pretty much every muscle group, you can enlist resistance bands for strength training, core work, dynamic stretching and mobility training…all from the comfort of your home, no less.
With so many opportunities, there’s also the potential for some confusion, so CA personal trainer Andy Guerin shared his expertise to help you get started and maximize the benefits of using resistance bands.
How do resistance bands work?
Before we get into a few moves, let’s first cover the basics of how resistance bands work. True to their name, these bands provide extra resistance of varying degrees — the thicker the width of the band, the greater the resistance. You’re also able to control the difficulty, so the farther you pull the band, the heavier it feels.
The ability to adjust the difficulty based on your needs is just the first advantage; it’s like having several free weights within one band. There’s also the portability aspect, which is majorly convenient for building strength and improving flexibility whether you’re traveling, working out in a confined space or looking for fresh ideas at the gym (they’re available in all three CA fitness clubs).
Here’s just a few additional benefits:
- They take up minimal space, unlike bulky weights and machines
- They’re gentle on the joints and reduce the risk of injury
- They fire up your core by forcing it to work as a dynamic stabilizer
- They’re inexpensive, so you can easily buy your own set without breaking the bank
- They create constant tension throughout the range of motion and help you move with more control
So, ready to get started? First, always inspect your band to make sure it’s in tip-top shape with no tears (because accidentally getting whipped by it is not fun).
According to Guerin, the biggest thing to keep in mind is that resistance bands provide a different type of resistance than free weights.
“It creates progressive resistance, instead of static,” says Guerin. “When you’re lifting weights, the weight doesn’t change. But when you’re stretching a band, that gets progressively harder.”
The consequence of too much resistance is fatigue, which can lead you to compress your body, crunch your neck and lose integrity in the spinal column and core. This can also create jerky motions and lead to injury. To maintain the integrity of the movement, it’s important to pick a weight that’s appropriate for you. As your strength improves, you can safely move up through the different levels of resistance.
How to use them
Now, onto the fun part: The tremendous creative potential to put your resistance bands to use!
As we mentioned above, the sky’s pretty much the limit. You can use the resistance bands as they are, or find a firm, stable structure to hook them onto as an anchor, such as a pole. You can bring them outdoors and wrap them around trees or fence posts. You can grab a friend to hold it for you and do partner moves. You can string together multiple bands for heavier resistance (all you do is loop them together, and voila, you’ve created a feeling of extra load to continually challenge your muscles).
Essentially, resistance bands allow you to do a full-body workout wherever you go. Remember, your distance from the anchor controls the resistance, so you can always make adjustments without needing to change bands. To make the exercise harder, step out at a little; to rein in, you can step in.
The Pallof press is great for building core strength and stability. Stand up nice and straight in a vertical line, and glue your feet to the ground. Make sure your body is perfectly in line with the bands. Extend your arms straight out; hold for 10 seconds, then bring it back in. Keep your core tight the entire time. Try five rounds of 10-second holds, or five rounds of five second holds for beginners. You can also try a squat variation of this move.
Woodchops are wonderful for tightening and toning the oblique muscles. The above photo features a high-to-low woodchop, but you can also do this move low-to-high — you’ll reap the core-strengthening benefits all the same. Glue your feet to the floor hip-width distance apart, and line your body up with the bands. Then stretch your arms overhead, and pull the resistance band across your body and down towards your opposite-side knee in a smooth bend and twist motion. Your feet and legs should be stationary (your abs are doing the work!). Pause, then slowly return to your starting position. Challenge yourself to do three sets of 10 reps on each side.
Make sure your lower back is flush to the floor. Start with your arms extended to the sky, holding the bands above your head, with your shoulder blades rolled back and down. Then, slowly crunch up, releasing the arms down to your side. To come down, lower yourself and release your arms back to the original position. Remember to breathe!
Band rear delt fly
With a band rear delt fly, you use the resistance of your feet to work your deltoids (hello sculpted shoulders!). For this move, there’s no anchor required. Simply stand both feet on the center of the band and criss-cross the handles so that it makes an “x” shape. Bend your knees slightly, keeping your abs engaged and your spine long. Open your arms up to your shoulders and pause, then slowly release back to your starting position. You’ll feel the resistance in the upper body here!
Enjoy resistance band moves at CA
At each of CA’s three fitness clubs, there are a wide variety of bands and anchors available (in addition to state-of-the-art equipment, personal training programs and group fitness classes). Check out our web page to learn how we’re going above and beyond to create the safest possible environment in our fitness facilities.