Resistance bands are ideal for building stronger bones and muscle.
Exercising with resistance bands is an excellent way to promote bone health and to increase muscular strength and endurance. Bands are an easy, inexpensive and effective tool to achieve a whole-body workout in a short amount of time. They are literally total body training, ideal for those with celiac disease and others at risk for developing osteopenia and osteoporosis.
Bands are suitable for any fitness level. Available in a variety of resistances (light, medium, heavy), they can be further adjusted by choking up on the band, adding more bands or simply stretching the band more for greater difficulty.
They’re a safer form of resistance training than free weights, especially for beginners. Both band training and free-weight training require good form and control. But bands don’t overload, so they’re less likely to cause injury. They also create significantly less joint compression than free weights, making them more joint friendly.
Other selling points? Resistance bands are readily available, easy to purchase at sporting goods stores and online. They can be used at home without investing in a gym membership. Because they take up very little space, they can be conveniently stored in a drawer or packed in a suitcase. They can be used exclusively or with other exercises to vary an existing workout. Their affordability, effectiveness and convenience make them a high-quality exercise tool that’s available to everyone.
To move quickly through your workout, do one set (8 to 25 repetitions) of each exercise, resting 30 seconds before moving to the next exercise. Complete each exercise and then repeat the circuit from the top. Do the circuit anywhere from two to five times.
Always stretch and warm up before doing any strength training and remember to exhale as you push through the exertion of an exercise.
1. Squat with Overhead Press
This exercise targets legs, shoulders and triceps.
1) Stand tall with your feet on the band about hip-width apart. Hold the band handles at shoulder height. Keep your shoulders back, your chest lifted and your abdominals engaged.
2) Bend your knees and assume a squat position while keeping your chest lifted and your shoulders back.
3) Return to standing and extend your arms overhead.
2. Standing Back Extensions
This exercise targets low back, buttocks and hamstrings.
1) Stand tall with your feet on the band about hip-width apart. Hold the band handles at chest height. Keep your shoulders back, your chest lifted and your abdominals engaged.
2) Lean forward by hinging at the hip. Keep your back in a neutral position and avoid any rounding of the lower or upper back as you come into a forward flexed position. Return to standing.
3. Side Step with Bicep Curl
This exercise targets hip abductors and biceps.
1) Stand tall with your feet on the band about hip-width apart. Hold the band handles at your sides with your palms facing front. Keep your shoulders back, your chest lifted and your abdominals engaged.
2) Take a wide step to the right with your right foot.
3) Move your left foot right so your feet are again hip-width apart. Bend your elbows and do a bicep curl. Repeat to the left.
4. Reverse Lunge
This exercise targets legs, buttocks and abdominal muscles.
1) Anchor your band to a door handle. With your side facing the door, step away from the door until the band is taut and you can feel the tension. Stand tall with your feet about hip-width apart. Hold the band handles at chest height. Keep your shoulders back, your chest lifted and your abdominals engaged.
2) Step backward with your leg furthest from the door and bend both knees.
3) Return to standing position and push the handles forward until your arms are straight and fully extended at chest height.
4) Return to start position and complete the set. Change directions and repeat on the opposite side.
5. Plank with Hip Extension
This exercise targets chest, shoulders, core, legs and buttocks.
1) Put the toes of one foot through the handle of the band. Assume a plank position while holding the opposite end of the band with the opposite hand. (The band should be taut.)
2) Maintain the plank, while slowly lifting the banded leg up to hip height and down to the floor. Complete the set and repeat on the opposite side.
3 & 4) For an extra challenge, add a push-up after each leg lift.
Fitness expert Christine V. Woods, MSEd, ACSM-CCEP, CSCS is a 25-year industry veteran, serving as a clinical exercise physiologist, lifestyle coach, university educator and fitness educator for the Athletic and Fitness Association of America (AFAA).