If you don’t have the time, money, or desire to get to a gym, or perhaps you just have a bit of “gymtimidation” trying to exercise in a new place surrounded by strangers, we get it. It’s something that has happened to all of us from time to time. Fortunately, there’s no need to spend a lot of time and money finding a gym. There are excellent at-home workouts to get you started. One great option that gives you everything you need are resistance bands. Today, I’ll be sharing with you 10 of the best resistance band exercises for a simple and fun workout. It’s true! You can work your whole body with exercise bands and enjoy some serious results.
What is a Resistance Band?
Before we get into the best resistance band exercises, it’s important to delve into the types of bands and the purposes of each:
- Therapy bands—these are more of a flat, stretchy strap without handles. They are referred to as “therapy bands” because they are often used in physical therapy for gentle recovery and strengthening purposes.
- Loop bands—these bands form a continuous loop (like a rubber band) and are relatively thick in width so they can comfortably be looped around areas of the body.
- Tube bands—these are thicker, rounder bands on which you can attach a handle to the ends. These can also be anchored to increase the range of available exercises.
Length & Strength:
- Bands can come in a variety of lengths, depending on their purpose, and may be equipped with or without handles.
- The strength of a band refers to its level of resistance when stretched, often indicating the “pounds” of resistance.
Benefits of Using Resistance Bands
So, now that you know what a resistance band is, let’s explore some of the many benefits of using them.
- Cost effective
- Enhance flexibility
- Hit muscles a different way than they’re used to being worked
- Target muscles easily
- Engage stabilizer muscles
- Can be performed at home
- Foster mobility
- Besides the bands, no additional equipment is needed (except an anchor in some cases)
- Time efficient
- Strengthen muscles and help increase functionality
- Promote better balance
- Joint friendly
Another major benefit to resistance band exercises is they remove barriers to resistance training for those who may feel intimidated by a gym atmosphere. Resistance band training provides a safe and comfortable environment to “test the waters” of resistance exercises.
Studies show incorporating some form of these best resistance band exercises into your lifestyle is vital for maintaining good health as you age. Resistance band training can provide that gateway from purely aerobic focused workouts to strength training exercise. For more experienced weight trainers, they can add some functional movements for a well-rounded exercise plan.
The 10 Best Resistance Band Exercises to Get You Started
Some of these best resistance band exercises will require an “anchor,” meaning you’ll usually loop your band around something like a pole or an anchor installed in the door or wall. Go for 10 – 15 repetitions of each movement for an effective full-body workout.
Trainer’s Tip: Before beginning each workout, take a moment to inspect your bands. They can become dry, frayed, or even brittle with time, which can make them more likely to snap during your exercise. If you’ve ever been hit by a rubber band, you’ll understand why you don’t want the bands (like a giant rubber band) to snap while you’re in the middle of your set! It can be dangerous as well as painful, so it’s worth it to take simple precautions. Look for slight tears, discoloration, and any signs of weakness (especially around the handle). To help your bands last longer, store them away from heat and sun.
Trainer’s Tip: Another preventative tip is to not look at the band while you’re exercising. Or you may choose to wear protective glasses. In addition, don’t tie off your bands, as this can cause them to weaken as well. And don’t overstretch your bands for greater resistance as this can make them more likely to snap. Instead, choose a heavier weight band for added resistance for these best resistance band exercises.
1. Legs: Lateral Band Walk—this exercise is done with a looped band. Step into the looped band one leg at a time. Depending on the length of the band and what’s most comfortable for you, you can have the band around your feet, ankles, or thighs. (Do NOT place the band around your knees.) Start by standing with your feet hip width apart. With your hands on your hips, tighten your core, bend your legs slightly at the knee, so you’re doing about a quarter squat. Keeping your legs (including the knees, ankles, and feet pointing forward, push the band out toward each side. Using the muscles in your hip (remember to keep those legs facing forward), step your right leg out to the right. Bring your left leg in to return to starting position. Continue for 10 steps to the right and repeat on opposite side with 10 steps to the left. You should really feel this movement in your glutes and hips.
2. Glutes: Glute Kickbacks—also using a looped band, this is fantastic for working your hamstrings and glutes. Begin by kneeling on all fours and use a small loop band around your ankles or your feet (depending on which feels better). With the band taut, lift your right leg back and up into the air in a kicking motion until the leg is straight. Then return to start. Repeat 10 times on each side and then switch to the opposite side.
Trainer’s Tip: You can also do this exercise with a tube band. With a handle in each hand, begin by kneeling on all fours. Place the band across the middle of the foot of the working leg, and straighten the leg, kicking it back at the same time.
With either variation, remember to keep your core tight and your hips square throughout the exercise.
3. Biceps: Biceps Curl—this will require a band with handles. Stand with your feet hip width apart and grab the handles of your band (one handle with each hand) with your palms facing forward. Step into the middle of your band, so you have an equal length for each arm. With your elbows kept by your sides, bend your arms at the elbows using your biceps muscles to bring your fist up to the front of your shoulders as you stretch the band. Hold for 1 – 2 seconds and lower to the beginning position. Repeat.
4. Triceps: Single-arm Kickbacks—we’ll again be using a band with handles. Attach your band to a low anchor. Kneel on all fours and grasp the handle with your right hand. Position your arm back so your elbow is next to your side and your upper arm is parallel to the floor, bent at the elbow with your fist pointing toward the floor. Keeping your core tight, straighten your arm by pulling the band backwards and moving your hand toward the ceiling, so your palm is facing the ceiling in the end position. Slowly release band until your arm is again at a 90-degree angle and repeat. Switch to opposite side to complete the exercise.
Trainer Tip: If you’re using a door for your anchor, always ensure it is tightly closed before beginning trying this resistance band exercise. In fact, it’s a good idea to lock the door to ensure it doesn’t accidentally open while you’re performing your exercises.
Trainer Tip: To protect your knees as you exercise, kneel on a yoga mat, Pilates mat, or even a towel.
5. Back: Lat Pulldown—this exercise replicates a pulldown exercise with a bar which is normally done at a gym and uses a band with handles. Loop your band around an anchor that is placed high (above your head). Stand with your arms outstretched gripping one side of your band in each hand and pull your elbows backward. Picture trying to touch your elbows together behind your back. (This is not possible, of course, but it provides a visual of the proper movement you should be striving for.)
When your elbows are fully pulled back, pause for 1 – 2 seconds and slowly return to the starting position. This is one repetition.
Trainer Tip: Depending on the length of your bands, you may choose to do this exercise while seated on the floor to ensure you get the full range of motion.
6. Abs: Kneeling Crunch—this exercise is fantastic for building and etching your abs. Again, we’ll be using a band with handles. Anchor your band at a level where you can reach it when kneeling, but it should be high enough that your arms are outstretched at the top of the movement. From a kneeling position, grab one end of the band with each hand, bring your hands next to your head, and bend forward from the waist, engaging your core and using it to pull you forward and down until your head is near the ground. Slowly return to beginning position and repeat.
Trainer’s Tip: To maximize the benefit of this best resistance band exercises, really focus on pulling your tummy in toward your spine as you scoop your abs in with each crunch.
7. Shoulders: Shoulder Raise—using a tube band with handles, this exercise can be done to the front or to the side. In similar fashion to the biceps curl, stand with your feet in the middle of the band with equal lengths of the band on each side. Grasp each handle and with your arms straight, raise your arms either out to the sides or straight forward until they are parallel to the floor. Hold for 1 – 2 seconds, lower your arms, and repeat.
8. Chest: Pushup—now, depending on your level of fitness, you may want to start these on your knees. You can use either a therapy band or a band with handles. Wrap each end of your band around your hands with the band across your upper back. Get into pushup position and do as many pushups as you can with the band adding resistance.
9. Squat and Walk: This will work your entire lower body. With a loop band around your ankles, feet, or thighs, and your feet hip width apart, squat down to almost a sitting position. Your arms should be bent and held loosely in front of you. Lift your right leg and move it forward a step, then your left leg, all while staying in the squat position with your legs facing forward. Continue to failure.
10. Calf Raise—begin by using a band with handles and standing on the band with the band under your toes. Grasp one side of the band in each hand and make sure it is taut. Raise yourself up onto your toes and hold for a count of 3. Return to the start and repeat.
With just these 10 simple and best resistance band exercises, you can enjoy a full and fun workout right in the comfort of your own home. No gym required.