Looking for a way to incorporate resistance training into your workout without heavy weights? Resistance band exercises build muscle and provide a full body workout when used in the right ways. Like bodyweight exercise, they can be easier for beginners to start getting more resistance training without barbells and dumbbells. For many people, resistance band exercises are less intimidating, but can be just as effective.
You can use resistance bands in at least a dozen different ways. Use them to train your arms, chest, back, legs, butt, and abs. Choose from different resistance levels to make it more challenging or less challenging, depending on your fitness level. With so many different styles and resistance levels to choose from, you or your trainer (if you’re working with one) should never run out of ways to use them. Just remember to use them in the right way, otherwise you risk injury.
Benefits of Resistance Band Exercises
- Resistance bands are less expensive than typical dumbbells and barbells.
- You have a lot more flexibility in the way that resistance bands are used.
- Beginners can use resistance bands safely, reducing the risk of injury.
- You can easily carry them with you to and from the gym.
- They can provide a full body workout.
People generally like using resistance bands for weight training because they provide tons of flexibility in the type of exercises you can do. While you can certainly use dumbbells in many ways, if you’re new to resistance training, the bands might be easier to begin with. You’re less likely to injure yourself, and you can’t drop them. And just like with hand weights, you can start light and get “heavier” as you go. The thicker the band, the more resistant it is.
The term “resistance” band stems from the level of difficulty in stretching them out. The easier to stretch a band, the lighter it is. Conversely, the more difficult it is to stretch a band, the heavier it is. Just as you would in traditional weight lifting, you start with lighter bands and gradually move to heavier, more resistant bands, as you get stronger.
You can also bring resistance bands with you wherever you go. Some people like to tuck them into a laptop bag and bring them to work. You don’t need a lot of space for many resistance band exercises, and you can even do some light workouts right at your desk.
Another major benefit of resistance bands is that they can provide a complete, full body workout. That’s part of the reason they are so cost effective. With just a set of three or four different types of bands, you can work just about any muscle in your body.
Working Out With Resistance Bands
For this overview, we’ll focus on 6 simple but challenging resistance band exercises that you can do at the gym for your abs, arms, and legs. With these exercises, start with lighter bands until you are strong enough to move to the heavier ones. Consult with a personal trainer for even more challenging resistance band routines. If you don’t have bands at home, your gym should have them or you can ask your gym reps to start stocking them.
Resistance Band Exercises for Abs
Believe it or not, resistance bands can be used to tone and trim up your abs. They turn typical crunches and similar ab exercises into fun, very challenging workouts. No more boring ab workouts. Just add bands.
These two resistance band exercises for abs are posted on abmachinesguide.com. They’re suitable for just about any fitness level (but as always, consult your physician or personal trainer first), easy to do, and provide a great workout.
Resistance Band Crunches – Video
- Loop the band around the leg of a weight rack, or something else very sturdy that will not move.
- Lay on your back with your knees bent and feet flat on the floor. Grab the two handles or ends of the bands as shown in the video.
- Pull the bands toward your knees, stretching your arms out straight. Stretch them toward your knees, but do not rest your hands on your knees.
- Crunch and touch your knees, and then release back to the floor. When you crunch, make sure your neck and upper back both come up off the floor. Otherwise, you risk injury to your neck.
- Repeat 8-10 reps for 2-3 sets.
Russian Twist Resistance Band Exercise
- Sit on the floor with knees bent and a resistance band around your feet. Pull both handles/ends back toward your core in your fists (keeping your fists together with elbows bent).
- With bands fully extended (lean back so your core is taut and push your feet forward a little until the bands are resistant), twist side to side. The further you can twist, the more challenging the exercise will get. Try to touch
the bands to the floor without extending your elbows.
- Repeat for 8-10 twists for 2-3 sets.
- See an example here.
Resistance Band Exercises for Arms
One of the most common ways to use resistance bands is for arm workouts. You can work your biceps, triceps, shoulders, forearms, and even your wrists with the bands. Try these two exercises for an easy bicep workout.
Resistance Band Bicep Curl
- Stand up straight with your feet together, centering the resistance band under your feet. Grab each handle.
- Ensure the band is heavy enough so that when you curl, you are experiencing enough resistance.
- Curl your arms up by bending your elbows and bringing your hands toward your shoulders. For best results, keep your elbows and upper arms stationary and bend only your forearms and hands in one straight move.
- Repeat 8-10 times for 2-3 sets.
Seated Preacher Curls w/Resistance Bands
- Sit on the floor with your knees bent. Anchor the bands around something sturdy, such as the leg of a dumbbell rack or a bench.
- Grab the handles and sit far enough away from the anchor so that you can rest your elbows just above your knees and feel resistance in the bands when your forearms are outstretched.
- Curl your hands and forearms back toward your shoulder, similar to a bicep curl. Make sure that your elbows stay planted on the top of your legs the entire time to avoid injury.
- Repeat 8-10 times for 2-3 sets.
See more resistance band exercises for arms here.
Resistance Band Exercises for Legs
Continue your resistance training workout with these two simple exercises for legs. Make sure you use the resistance bands with a handle large enough to anchor your foot or attach it to an ankle strap.
Hamstring Curl w/Resistance Band
- Anchor the resistance band around a sturdy pole or door jam.
- Stand facing the anchored band, about 3 to 4 feet away from it. Attach the band to your ankle strap or slip your foot through the handles. You should be far enough away from the door so that when you bend your knee, you feel some resistance.
- Bend your knee, moving your foot toward your butt/lower back. Your lower leg should be parallel to the floor. Lower it.
- Repeat 8-10 times, then switch legs. Do 2-3 sets.
Resistance Band Squats
- Stand up straight with your feet shoulder width apart. Center the bands under your feet and grab both handles.
- Squat down and bring the handles to your shoulders, elbows bent.
- Now, stand up straight. You should feel resistance in the band. If not, change to a heavier band.
- Continue to squat for 8-10 reps. Do 2-3 sets.
Incorporate these 6 exercises into your workouts to change things up, especially if you are not used to working with resistance bands. Challenge yourself by using heavier bands as you become stronger. Look for more ways to use the bands, such as for tricep curls, lunges, or calf raises. When in doubt, ask a trainer or fitness expert so that you avoid injury and get the most out of your workout routine.