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Resistance Bands

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Exercises with resistance bands are easy to do and at the same time are very powerful. Whether you're a beginner, a seasoned professional, or recovering from an injury, resistance bands offer many opportunities to build your agility while getting a great workout.

We'll focus here on how to use resistance bands, with plenty of resistance training exercises for beginners.

Here are our top exercises to guarantee you an effective and satisfying resistance band workout.

Note: We recommend you warm up with 5 minutes of cardio before doing these exercises.

Resistance Bands Exercises for Beginners

#1 Resistance band good mornings

Great for strengthening the back, and waking up the muscles first thing in the morning!

How to do it

Stand with your feet hip-distance apart. Place the band under your feet. Bend your knees, hinge at the hips, and lean forward, keeping your back straight while you face the floor. Loop the band around the back of your neck, holding the band with your hands on either side at knee-height. You should be in a squat position with your back straight and your knees bent.

On an exhale, gently raise yourself up by straightening your legs (without locking the knees) to come up to a standing position. Inhale while squatting down again, and repeat.

*Remember to always keep your back straight throughout the exercise. Your legs are doing the movement, and your hands are holding the band in place (not your neck).

#2 Resistance band bicep curls

Bicep curls are good for your biceps and overall upper body strength.

How to do it

Kneel on a mat or carpet. Raise one foot (we'll start with the right foot) and plant it firmly on the ground, bending your knee to 90 degrees (your thigh should be parallel to the floor). Put the band underneath your bent knee, and hold it with your right hand.

Keeping your right elbow close to your side (try not to move your upper arm), pull the band up and towards your right shoulder. Release it back down and repeat for as many reps as you wish, then switch sides.

#3 Rear delt pull with band

These are great for your shoulders as well as your biceps.

How to do it

Put the band around your forearms. With your arms out in front of you at chest height, bend the elbows back towards you, keeping your arms parallel to the floor. Think about squeezing those muscles between the shoulder blades as you pull back.

Exhale as you pull back, then inhale as you stretch your arms back out again.

#4 Banded tricep extension

Those triceps need a workout too! You'll feel a difference in no time with this exercise.

How to do it

Press the band to your chest with your right hand. With your left hand, pull the band downwards towards your left hip, into a tricep extension. Exhale as you pull the band down, and inhale as you bring it back up.

After 10 reps, do the same on the other side.

Variation: You could come into a lunge and place the band under your front foot (in this case your right foot). With your right hand, grab the band and pull it up towards you with your elbow bent and close to your body. Exhale on the way up and inhale on the way down.

#5 Band plank jacks

Strengthen your core while getting a cardio workout at the same time!

How to do it

On your mat, place the band around your ankles. Face the floor with your hands clasped together, supporting your weight on your elbows while keeping the shoulders lowered. Straighten your legs, curl your toes under (feet hip-width apart) and lift your knees up off the floor. Keep your back straight and your belly tucked in.

As you exhale, jump your feet out wide, towards the edge of your mat, then back in again. Think of it like hopping but you're lying down. Don't forget to breathe!

#6 Banded clamshell

This exercise is great for strengthening your glutes while also reinforcing the lower body strength.

How to do it

Put a band (hip circle bands are perfect for this) around your knees. Lie down on one side with your knees bent at a 90-degree angle and in line with your hips.

Lift your top knee up (on an exhale), pausing at the top before coming back down again (on an inhale).

#7 Lateral band walk

This is great for your glutes!

How to do it

Put a mini band over the balls of your feet and stand with your feet roughly hip-distance apart. Don't bring your feet closer together than this: you should be able to fit two fists between your feet at all times throughout the exercise.

Hinge at your hips to come forward into a quarter squat (so leaning slightly forward with your back straight).

Keep your back straight, your tummy tucked in, and your butt tight, take sideways steps, widening your stance with one foot moving further to your left or right, and the other foot coming to meet it (but keeping no less than a hip-width distance between your feet).

To start, take 10 steps to the right and then 10 steps back to your left. Stand up, shake it out, and do it again for 2 or 3 more times.

Note: If you only have a large band, use the same position, but cross the band over and hold the excess with your hands as you move to keep it taut around your feet.

#8 Lateral toe taps with bands

Toe taps are another exercise that's great for those glutes!

How to do it

Put the band around your legs, just above the knees, and stand with your feet hip-distance apart.

Hinge slightly forward at the hips, keeping your back straight and your butt and tummy tucked in. Put your hands on your hips, or you can hold a dumbbell or other weight in your hands if you wish (keep the weight at chest level).

Tap the toes of one foot out to one side and then tap it back to the starting point. Work with one leg at a time until you've done 16 reps on each side.

#9 Standing abductor lifts with bands

Abductor lifts are excellent for building the abductors, those leg muscles that run along the side of the thighs.

How to do it

Put the band around your ankles. Stand up tall with your feet flexed, and lift one foot out to the side while keeping your leg straight (but don't lock your knees) and bring it back again. Do this twice on each side until you've done 16 reps. You'll soon feel the burn!

Note: This is also a great balancing exercise, but if you'd rather just focus on your abductors, you can hold onto the wall or a bar while doing this exercise.

#10 Resistance band lunges

Lunges are great for building those thigh muscles, and they work even better with bands.

How to do it

In a lunge position (knees slightly bent, one foot forward flat on the floor, and the other leg out behind you with the weight on the ball of the back foot), put a pull up assist band under your front foot, holding either end of the band with your hands.

Keeping your elbows close to your body and your back straight, pull your hands up towards your shoulders, as if you were doing a bicep curl. As your hands come up (and on an exhale), increase the bend in your knees to lower your legs towards the floor (but not touching down).

On an inhale, push up with your legs to return to your starting position until your knees are almost straight, leaving your hands close to your shoulders the whole time (the band should remain very taut).

Exhale again and repeat, bending and straightening those legs!

#11 Banded squats

Squats are another way to build strength in those powerful thigh muscles. This exercise will help you go into a deeper squat by opening up your hips. Most of us tend to let our knees sink inwards when doing squats, so this exercise helps remedy that by making us more aware of the movement of the legs.

How to do it

Place the band just under your knees. Stand with your feet just wider than hip-distance apart, toes pointed slightly outwards. Turn your legs towards the outside half of your foot.

With your hands in front of your body, or in front of your head, bend your knees to sink down into a squat position while keeping your knees the same distance apart. Don't let them sink inwards! Keep your back straight and use the weight of your arms if you wish by holding your arms straight out in front of you.

Keep the movement nice and slow so that you can be sure your knees aren't wobbling. This is about awareness, not speed. If you find yourself wobbling more than you can control, just reduce the resistance of the band by moving your feet slightly closer together.

For the breathing, exhale as you sink down, and inhale as you come up.

#12 Banded glute bridge

This exercise tones not only the glutes, but also the hamstrings, hip muscles, and the lower back muscles. It's also good for strengthening the area that keeps the spinal cord stable.

How to do it

Sit on the floor and put a mini band right above the knees. Lie back flat on the ground with the knees bent and the feet hip-distance apart. There should be about one handspan between your butt and your feet. Spread your arms out on the floor to either side, with the palms facing down.

Make sure your shoulders and back remain on the ground throughout the exercise.

There are 4 steps to this exercise:

  1. Push your knees outwards while keeping the feet where they are.
  2. With your knees spread wide, lift your butt up high, squeezing the muscles as you do so.
  3. Release your butt back down to the ground.
  4. Close your knees.

To make this exercise more challenging, rather than have your arms spread out on the floor, keep the elbows bent and your fists in the air, creating tension in your arms as you lift and lower your legs.

Do this exercise for 4 or 5 reps at a time before taking a quick rest and continuing.

#13 Donkey kicks with bands

These are best done with a hip circle, mini band, or a booty band. They target the glutes and help improve balance and stability.

How to do it

Start on a mat on all fours, with your hands directly under your shoulders, your knees directly under your hips, and the band around your thighs.

With your back straight and your neck long (you can look at the floor), raise one leg up and back, keeping the knee bent and the feet flexed. Pause a bit at the top and come down slowly.

Make sure your abs are tight and your back is straight. Exhale when your leg goes up and inhale as it comes down, keeping your hips level with each other. Work first one leg and then the other.

#14 Banded fire hydrant

This exercise works the glutes and helps improve stability.

How to do it

Start on a mat on all fours, with arms straight (but elbows not locked), hands on the floor in line with your shoulders, and your feet hip-distance apart with the knees bent and level with the hips.

Put the band around your ankles. Keeping your leg bent and your foot flexed, raise one leg out to the side, aiming for your thigh to reach up high enough to be parallel to the floor.

Try not to move your hips as you do the exercise. Keep your back straight and your core strong (don't arch your back).

Work each side one at a time, exhaling as the leg goes up and inhaling as it comes back down.

It requires slow movements, so focus, and work deep!

#15 Banded side-lying leg lifts

This is an excellent way to improve hip stability as well as strengthen your glutes.

How to do it

Place the band above your knees and lie down on your side, with your bottom leg bent at a 45-degree angle and your top leg out straight (be sure not to lock your knee) with both feet flexed.

Make sure your body is nice and straight, that you're neither leaning backward nor forward. You can lean on your elbow for support.

Now raise the top leg slowly, as high as you can, with control and without causing any movement in your lower back. You can check this by putting your top hand just above your hip. This enables you to feel your core and to make sure it doesn't start moving.

Lower your leg just as slowly: the lowering movement works the glutes just as much.

Start with 2 to 3 sets of 10-12 reps on each side.

Why are resistance bands good for beginners?

Resistance bands are awesome for beginners because they can provide different levels of resistance while protecting the joints, making them perfect for people who are in rehabilitation from an injury, or for helping the elderly to get fit safely. You can adapt the exercises to your level of fitness. Use basic moves to start with, and as you build up your resistance levels, add more intensity.

Do resistance bands really work?

The bands are light, so they look deceptively lightweight. People are always surprised at how effective resistance band training really is. Exercises with bands are particularly effective for toning your muscles and for helping you recover from an injury. You'll still get tired muscles, but gradually as you increase the length or breadth of a particular movement.

How many reps should I do with resistance bands?

For beginners, we recommend doing 1 set of 12-16 reps per exercise.

For the intermediate level, we suggest 2 sets of 16 reps per exercise, using a variety of bands.

And for the die-hard advanced, go for 3+ sets of 16 reps per exercise, using a variety of bands.

Are resistance bands better than free weights?

Resistance bands aren't better, they just work differently.

With a resistance band workout, there is a gradual increase in weight as you increase the range of each movement. With a free weights workout, the weight impact on the muscles is the same throughout the entire range of movement, which is why they're particularly good for building muscular strength and power, but not as gentle on the joints as resistance bands.

The other great thing about resistance bands is that they're portable! You can work out at home or on the road: just toss your bands into your bag and you're ready to roll.

Can you build muscle mass with resistance bands?

You certainly can. Not only can you build muscle mass with resistance bands, but you can burn calories, improve your stability and balance, and increase your agility and conditioning.

How do you clean resistance bands?

You can clean your bands by wiping them clean with a damp cloth. Avoid using soap or chemicals of any kind.

Do resistance bands wear out?

Resistance bands can show signs of wear and tear over time, but the best way to help them retain their elasticity is to keep them away from extreme temperatures. Keep them out of direct sunlight, and don't leave them in the cold. They are best stored in a dry place at room temperature.

Don't use them in swimming pools either: the chlorine will damage their elasticity.

Enjoy your exercises! Long may you use and love your resistance bands.

Robert J. Tremper

Robert J. Tremper

Robert is a bodybuilder that trains his body one day at a time. Through his experience, he shares his knowledge with the world in the hopes of making a more fitness aware and healthy society and promote an overall unique lifestyle that won't leave them hanging when they're older. Robert is on a mission to inspire and share his message across the entire world.

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