Training

Training: The Resistance Band

Resistance bands are some of the most diverse and mobile pieces of equipment available. Convenient for taking on trips away due to their lightweight and compact nature, they act as a great alternative to multiple heavy dumbbells.

An advantage of using resistance bands is that tension is put through the muscle at all times. With some free weight exercises muscle tension can be lost, therefore decreasing the amount of muscle damage, and therefore growth, that is seen.

When picking the resistance band for the exercise you’re doing you have to ensure the band gives you sufficient resistance, even at the bottom of the exercise. However, you need to be strong enough to control the band on the eccentric phase so it doesn’t ping back and lose tension. This can often be changed slightly by changing the length of the band itself, for example by moving your feet further apart if stood on it, this will make the exercise harder.

Resistance bands are convenient for taking on trips away due to their lightweight and compact nature

It’s worth adding you can also double-up on your bands, so you can attach and mix up the strength of each band to add resistance. Resistance bands are available in two styles. Thin rubber cables which fasten to a hand attachment as in the photos below. These are our choice for flyes and hammer curls. The other style is one large elastic band, without a handle. These bands are our choice for assisted pull-ups and squatting.

Resistance bands are definitely worth the money. It’s good to have them just in case the gym is shut or there’s a day you can’t get there but want to workout, break out the resistance bands and get a great workout in.

Here are a few of our favourite resistance band exercises. Try running through the 7 band exercises in one session.

Before you continue, please remember that you need to warm up.

If are are unsure about some of the terms used in this article, it’s worth having a quick read through our Glossary of Terms before you get started with your workout.

Hammer Curl. Click for full exercise

01

Hammer Curl

Standing on the centre of the resistance band, grip either end of the band with palms turned in and curl up keeping palms still facing in. Concentrate on that squeeze at the top of the rep and keeping elbows in tight to your sides.

Target: 10 curls (choose your band strength)

Tricep Extensions. Click for full exercise

02

Tricep Extensions

Hook the resistance band over a pull up bar and grip either end of the band. Keeping elbows pinned in at your sides, extend your elbows to bring the down beside your hips.

Target: 8-12 extensions (choose your band strength)

Face Pulls. Click for full exercise

03

Face Pulls

Hook the resistance band around a pole and grip either end of the band with palms facing down, arms outstretched. Pull your hands towards your face, leading with your elbows, to squeeze the shoulder blades back and together.

Target: 10 pulls (choose your band strength)

Flyes. Click for full exercise

04

Flyes

Lie flat on your back on a bench or on the floor with the resistance band running underneath. Grip either end of the band, palms facing up and arms outstretched, with a slight bend in the elbow. Squeeze the pectoral muscles together as you bring your hands to touch each other, keeping your elbow angle consistent all the way through the movement.

Target: 12 flyes (choose your band strength)

Row. Click for full exercise

05

Row

Standing on the resistance band, bend forward at the hips with knees slightly bent and arms outstretched. Pull arms back and up, leading with the elbows. Ensure there is enough tension in the band whilst arms outstretched.

Target: 15 rows (choose your band strength)

Squat. Click for full exercise

06

Squat

Stand on the resistance band, hands up by your shoulders, palms facing forward, with the band running down the back of your hand. Squat down keeping hands by your shoulders.

Target: 20 squats (choose your band strength)

Assisted Pull-Up. Click for full exercise

07

Assisted Pull-Up

By hooking the resistance band on the spotter bars, or something similar, on a squat rack with a pull up bar on it, you can perform a pull up with assistance. Lots of people struggle to perform a single unassisted pull up so using a resistance band for assistance may help build up their strength.

Target: 5 pull-ups (choose your band strength)

By adding the use of resistance bands to your workouts you can make them more interesting and have a nice variety of equipment, therefore decreasing the likelihood of plateaus and also expanding your personal arsenal of mastered exercises. Try one or two of these exercises next time you workout and see if they can help you break through your plateaus!

Before you finish, remember that you should spend time cooling down.

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About Author

Olly is the Short Motivation fitness and training advisor. He is a level-3 PT instructor, specialising in TRX and kettlebell instruction, and manages his own gym in the United Kingdom.