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August 15, 2020 9 min read

A low-cost tool available to you anytime, anywhere, perfect for home training sessions and takeaway, resistance bands cover a wide range of exercises. With simple, lightweight, totally portable resistance bands, you can do your glutes, legs, and arms on the go. No more excuses like, "But I was traveling a lot, my hotel didn’t have a gym, and I was busy!"

Resistance bands are an excellent little workout tool. They're affordable and versatile, yet they help target larger muscles as much as smaller stabilizing muscles. Research shows that training with resistance bands improves balance and flexibility, and can be more engaging than some standard bulky tools. An elastic resistance band workout is also totally suitable for newbies and workout buffs.

How to Choose a Resistance Band

Many companies now create resistance bands, and the truth is any brand will get the job done. One thing you can pay attention to when buying is versatility. Resistance bands that offer a range of different resistance levels sport more value. You can use them to increase the challenge as you get stronger gradually.

If you are new to this kind of workout, start with the lowest strength band. Otherwise, if you are comfortable with strength training in your routine, you may be able to use a heavier resistance. Pick a few different resistance bands from the pack and test each one on a few exercises. You should be able to stretch entirely to the end of the movement. If the band provides too much resistance and pulls your limb back, go with the lower tier. 

The lightest band in the pack normally equals a 5-pound dumbbell when fully stretched. The difference is in tension that remains on the muscles during the entire resistance band exercise. In other words, a bicep curl with a dumbbell doesn't engage a muscle much on the way down, while a band keeps it consistent. 

Once you choose the right band for you, keep it going until you can do 10 to 15 reps. Progress to the next level band at an increased resistance level. Of course, it's not necessary to have the same band for all exercises. Your lower body may be stronger than your upper and progress faster. No worries if glutes and legs require the strongest resistance band while the triceps and shoulder blades still struggle with the medium one—it's totally natural.

A man working out in a gym.

What Makes Resistance Bands Great?

Resistance bands are an incredibly versatile tool for men and women. You can use them for warming up, for a heavy workout, even for stretching. They help you both build muscle and burn fat in a very effective way, perfect for those who travel or prefer a home workout.

Resistance bands also provide less taxing on the body and joints, allowing you to train more often. With just one set, you can cover all fitness staples - balance, flexibility, endurance, and muscular strength. Constant tension leaves no space to cheat as bands don't allow for jerky movements and momentum. It all leads to achieving faster results with a shorter recovery period.

The tension is created by elastic force, which eliminates gravity effects, allowing you to work all planes of motion. There's no need for additional equipment and benches. Also, it's easier to target the transverse plane compared with using free weight tools. All these, together with low injury risks, make the bands perfect for beginners. 

While bands will not be sufficient if you're looking to get super strong, they replicate most of the weightlifting exercises. Almost all known barbell, dumbbell, and kettlebell movements can be easily doubled, as well as cable pulley exercises. This tool will help you get fit and stay fit, lose weight, and build lean muscle with improved endurance.

Using Resistance Bands Greatly Improves Dynamic Stretching 

Studies claim that training plans are changing, making stretching exercises a new way of workout. You can complement your mandatory stretching program using resistance bands after your training. Never forget to stretch, as it has a high impact on your range of motion and flexibility.

Consistently performing both static and dynamic stretching will bring you many health benefits. Regular stretching will also help you improve your overall performance. Therefore, adding resistance bands to your workout program is one of the best moves you can make. 

What Muscles Do Resistance Bands Target?

You can use them for a total-body workout, or you can target specific muscle groups. Resistance bands can target any muscle group, from quads, hamstrings, and glutes, to shoulders, chest, lats, biceps, triceps, and abs. 

Exercising With Resistance Bands

A great total-body workout plan will strengthen your core, tighten your glutes, and add definition to your arms. With resistance bands, you should be able to use any available space. It can be your house or hotel room, any place or time that suits your busy schedule. The best part: you can adapt everything to your fitness level by simply choosing the right band from the box!

Versatile Strength Training

Did you know that you can perform over 50 exercises using resistance bands? Even a minor change can transfer the impact of the movement. For example, if you narrow your grip, the elastic band's resistance will increase, thus enabling you to control the difficulty of the exercise. There are countless possibilities to train your body this way; it is like having several heavy dumbbells packed in just one tiny, portable, lightweight band.

The plan can be split into four categories:

  • Upper body
  • Lower body
  • Abs
  • Advanced plank circuit

Start by training three to four days a week and split the work in the way it fits you. Whether you do all muscle groups in one day or separately is totally up to you. Just don't forget to warm up with up to 20 minutes of cardio, and stretch after you finish. If your priority is to build muscle, maximize the time spent under tension, and combine it with a high protein diet. If your goal is weight loss, cut down on rest intervals to burn a lot of calories and minimize your carb intake.

Full-Body Resistance Band Workout 

1. Resistance Band Thrusters: Starting position: step on the bands, feet shoulder-width apart. Hold the band with palms facing out starting at collar bone level. Squat down and, as you reach the standing position, press the band up overhead.

Muscles you work: Hamstrings, Quads, Core, Glutes, Shoulders, Triceps.

2. Hinge, Row, Squat: Step on the band, grabbing the ends with your palms facing each other. Get into a hinge position, do a row, then slowly bring the bands back down. Raise your body until standing with a neutral spine, like doing a stiff-legged deadlift. Squat down, press up, hinge, repeat.

Muscles you work: Hamstrings, Quads, Core, Glutes, Back, Biceps.

3. Power Squats for Legs: Step on the band, feet shoulder-width apart, holding the ends of a band with your palms facing each other. Squat and explode back up.

Muscles you work: Quads and Glutes

4. Sumo Squats: Place your feet through the loops, 3-4 feet apart, taking a sumo squat position. Keep your toes pointing out at 45 degrees. Squat but keep your spine as neutral as possible, with hands along your centerline. Lower your glutes parallel with your knees, then squat back up and squeeze the glutes at the top.

Muscles you work: Quads, Hamstrings, Glutes.

5. Good Mornings: Stand on the band, feet hip-width apart, pull it over your head and rest it around your lower traps. Bend the knees slightly, lowering your upper body, using a hinge in your hips until you get the back straight and parallel with the ground. Lift up into a starting position and squeeze your glutes. Remember to keep a neutral spine and straight legs!

Muscles you work: Hamstrings, Glutes, Lower Back.

6. Lateral Walk for Mighty Glutes: Place both feet on the band, hip to shoulder-width apart. Cross the band in the shape of an "X" and grab it with both hands at about hip level. Take a step to the right with your right foot. The distance should be one-foot wide. Make sure to keep everything tight. 

Next, step your left foot over your right leg in the same manner. Switch sides. Keep interchanging about 5-10 times, then repeat to the opposite side.

Muscles you work: Glutes, Adductors, and Thighs.

7. Hip Bridge: Lie on the floor with your face up, keep your knees bent and feet aligned, flat to the floor. Place the band in front of your pelvic bone, stepping the heels at the loops' ends. Push up your hips, forming a straight line of body and legs. Slowly return to the starting position, contracting actively. 

Muscles you work: Glutes, Hamstrings, Hip Flexors, Core, Shoulders.

8. Kneeling Overhead Press: Start in a kneeling position, placing the band under your knees. Bring the band at chest height, with palms facing out. Press straight up overhead, then lower slowly back down to chest level. Repeat. 

Muscles you work: Deltoids, Triceps, Core. The right form will also affect your upper chest.

9. Lateral Raise: Place your right foot on the band, holding the band with palms facing each other, slightly over shoulder-width. Move back your left foot, placing it straight with balls of your feet on the ground, heels up. Raise up arms and hands until the band is at your face level. Keep your elbows slightly below shoulder level with your chest up and shoulder blades retracted.

Start lowering back to starting position slowly, keeping the tension stable. Just before the band slacks, go back up. 

Muscles you work: Middle, Front, and Rear Delts, Upper Traps, Serratus Anterior, and Rotator Cuff Complex.

Chest Press: Start with a split stance, keeping both feet flat to the ground. Wrap the band under your arms and around your back, grabbing the ends with palms down, pressed forward and slightly upward. Keep your shoulders, arms, and hands in a straight line.

Return to the starting position as slow as you can, and repeat.

Muscles you work: Chest, Triceps, Shoulders.

10. Chest Fly: Start in a split stance, keeping both feet flat to the ground. Wrap the band under your arms and around your back. Grip the end of the band with palms facing each other. Place your hands into your front and center, extending the arms forward and lightly bending the elbow. Align your hands with the sternum, a bit lower than your shoulder level.

Stretch to open your chest up slowly, until the band makes a straight line. Hold your hands and arms at your sides. Hold your lower chest steady and level your arms straight with a bend in your elbow. Bring your arms back to the starting position, front and center, and repeat.

Muscles you work: Chest, Shoulders, Triceps.

11. Pull Aparts: Grip the band with your hands, keeping them shoulder-width apart, and align your arms with your shoulders. Bring the arms to your sides like in a reverse fly, stretching the band apart. Return slowly and repeat.

Muscles you work: Posterior Deltoids, Rhomboids, Middle Traps.

12. Single Arm Bent Over Row

Start in a split stance position. Your front foot should be standing on the band and your back foot on the ball of your foot. Bend your knees. Loop the band around your hand aligned with the front foot. Remember to keep the back straight! 

Rowing the band up and back, bring the elbow past your back as near as possible to a 90-degree angle with your arm. Keep your entire body tight, lower back down slowly, and repeat.

Muscles you work: Lats, Teres Major, Teres Minor, Infraspinatus, Traps, Biceps, Posterior Delts, and Core.

13. Biceps Curl: Stand on the band, keeping your feet shoulder-width apart. Grip the band slightly wider than that, making a square shape between the floor and the upper thigh. Keeping your arms straight, curl the band up in a straight path. Your palms should face out to increase the tension on the biceps. Lower and repeat.

Muscles you work: Biceps and Forearms.

14. Crossbody Chop: Placing your feet a bit over shoulder-width, strap the right foot on top of the band. With hands stacked and facing in, take the other end. Bend the knees and rotate to the side, with the left leg further in a slight bend. It should be facing the same way as your upper body, on the ball of your foot. Keep your hands on the right side, above your right knee.

Rotate your body and hips diagonally, pulling the band up until your upper body is facing up to the left side. Keep your extended straight above your head. Return slowly and repeat on the opposite side.

Muscles you work: Core/Oblique Slings and Glutes.

15. Resisted Plank Lift Offs: Start from a standard plank position with the band looped around your left hand and around your right foot. Lift your left hand off the floor, hold the position for a second or two, return back down. Then lift your right hand off the floor, hold for a second or two, return. Keep interchanging for as long as you can, but don't overdo.

Muscles you work (pay attention now!): Internal Obliques, External Obliques, Rectus Abdominis, Transverse Abdominis, Hips, Erector Spinae, Quadratus Lumborum, all together with Glutes. How about that?

A man working out with a resistance band in a park.

Maximize Your Resistance Bands Workout Benefits

To get the best out of resistance band workouts, every set should be challenging. That doesn't mean you should exhaust yourself fast, but try to maximize your time under tension. The path to success is always paved with the same thing: consistency and persistence. 

To build muscle and strength, increase the difficulty of your workouts at least every two weeks. You can choose any way you prefer, either by adding more reps or new exercises or by increasing resistance. Remember to keep the record of what you did.

If you are looking for a more casual workout aiming to slightly lower your body weight and stay in shape, feel free to explore. Maintain your motivation by trying out new workouts, experimenting with different ways to do the exercise, and don't bother much with strict plans.

Resistance bands are an excellent choice of workout tool for everybody. The freedom of choice they provide makes them suitable for seniors, teenagers, men, and women alike. Resistance bands are also a great help with post-injury recovery, especially with terminal knee extension issues.

For beginners, it's a great way to build muscle while increasing strength and flexibility. For intermediate and advanced fitness levels, they provide much-needed versatility in regular training. These exercises stimulate your muscles in a new way and can provide just the right boost if you hit a plateau.