Resistance bands may be my favorite piece of exercise equipment. Don’t get me wrong, I love a good dumbbell workout. But resistance bands are very affordable, portable, versatile, and can help target larger muscles as well as smaller stabilizing muscles. Additionally, research shows that engaging in rubber band resistance training improves balance, gait function, and flexibility. Research also indicates that rubber band exercises cause greater neuromuscular stress than exercises with isometric contractions.
As someone who is always on the go, i love that the bandanas are easy to pack and take away in a small space (like a hotel room) and can literally be shoved into a drawer at home!
There are different types of resistance bands. I’d like two groups: a smaller, hitch group, and a longer band with handle attachments. Smaller resistance bands are ideal to use to work the glutes and legs as the range of motion is smaller than in the arms. The arms require larger resistance bands to allow for a greater range of motion. Plus, the handles make it easy to grip the resistance bands while performing pulling motions for an upper body workout.
Here are 11 resistance band exercises that you can use to work out your entire body!
These exercises are performed with a resistance band with handles.
Wood choppers engage your shoulder, abdominal, and quadriceps muscles, and are a great shoulder-strengthening exercise that also works the entire core. Start with one foot placed in the center of the resistance band. Hold one of the handles with both hands. In the starting position, place your hands holding the handles near your knee. With a slight bend in your knees, begin to pull the handle diagonally across your body with arms extended. Make sure you engage your abdominal muscles and use your tilted arms to twist the body. The stopping point ends over your opposite shoulder. Slowly return to the starting position. Repeat for 10 times, then switch sides.
Step on the resistance band with your feet hip-width apart. Hold one handle in each hand. Keep your back straight as you hinge at the hips to tilt your torso forward. Rotate your hands so that your palms are facing your body. Add a 90-degree bend in your elbows with your arms bent at your sides. Keeping your elbows tucked in, push the handles back and up until your arms are fully extended. Return to the starting position. Repeat for 10 reps.
Pull over the head
Hold one handle of the resistance band in each hand. If the strap is too long, let the handles dangle and hold onto the actual strap so there is no slack. Stand with your feet hip-width apart. Extend your arms straight up, palms facing away from your body. Make sure there is enough tension in the resistance band that it will be difficult to pull your arms apart, but not so much that you have to exert yourself to do so. Keeping your arms straight, pull the bar apart and face to the sides until your arms are in a “T” position. Return to the starting position. Repeat for 10 reps.
Stand with your feet hip-width apart and hold one handle of a resistance band in each hand. If the bracelet is too long, let the handles dangle and hold on to the actual strap. Extend your arms straight out in front of you, palms facing the floor. Make sure there is tension in the resistance band, just enough that it’s challenging, but not so much that it’s hard to separate. Pull the bar apart until you reach a “T” position with the arms, making sure that the hands and arms remain parallel to the floor. Return to the starting position. Repeat for 10 reps.
Step on the resistance band with your feet hip-width apart. Hold one handle of the resistance band in each hand, palms facing each other. Add a slight bend in your knees, and drive your hips back to hinge your torso forward. Maintain a flat back with the core engaged. Let your arms hang below your shoulders, adding a slight bend to your elbows. Straighten your elbows to bring the resistance band up to your chest, keeping your elbows tucked in at your sides. Slowly lower back to the starting position. Repeat for 10 reps.
Step on the belt with both feet hip-width apart. Hold one handle in each hand with your arms down by your sides. Bend your knees slightly and pull your abs in. Then pull the band up toward your shoulders in your biceps flexion and release. Repeat 10 times.
Start with one foot forward, standing over the band, and the other foot behind you. Alternate grips, grabbing the handles from below with your palms facing forward and away from you. Start by holding the handles at shoulder height. Then press the bar above your head, arms fully extended. Release back down to the starting position and repeat 10 times.
These exercises are performed with a loop resistance band.
Standing side taps
This exercise works the gluteus medius (the muscle on the outside of the hip) and the thighs. It’s also a bit of a cardio move because tapping from side to side without a break will get your heart rate up. Step into the resistance band so that it is directly above your ankles. Pull your navel in toward your spine and bend your knees so your butt reaches back. Place your feet shoulder-width apart. This is a modified squat position and you’ll stay here the entire workout! Press your right foot to the right, feeling tension on the bar, then bring it back to center so feet are about shoulder-width apart. then press the left foot to the left and feel the tension on the belt; Bring it back to the center. Repeat this for 10 clicks on each side.
Stand squat banded
Insert the resistance band with both feet so that they are around your thighs, just above your knees. Bring your feet hip-width apart to create tension on the belt. Pull in your navel and bend at the knees to sit with your glutes. Act as if you were sitting in a chair, then move down through your heels to stand up again. The bar helps activate the glutes while pulling around the legs and helps stabilize your body for proper squat form. Repeat 10 times.
Standing side band for walking
Insert the resistance band with both feet so that they are around your thighs, just above your knees. Open the feet hip-width apart to create tension on the belt. Lower your belly button down into a half-squat position, pulling your belly button toward your spine and pressing down through your heels. Then shift your weight to your left side, and sideways to your right. Bring your left foot in slightly, keeping tension on the bar, and continue the side step to the right like this for 10 steps (or however many steps you have room for!). Then repeat to the left.
Insert the resistance band with both feet so that they are around your thighs, just above your knees. Lie on your back, bend your knees, and place your feet on the floor hip-width apart. Shake the band around your upper thighs. Take a deep breath in, then exhale as you pull your navel in toward your spine and tilt your pelvis forward to press your lower back into the floor. Slowly curl your lower back, middle back and then upper back off the floor into a bridge position, pressing your legs out against the bar and opening legs wide. Hold it at the top. Then, pulse your legs and band out to the sides for 10 repetitions. Slowly lower back down on the floor vertebrae by vertebrae. Repeat 10 times.