Training with resistance bands can be a great asset to anyone’s workout. They’re an adaptable piece of equipment that can emulate a whole host of other exercises and bring a new dimension to your workout. They go far beyond just that though, with the easy ability to combine with almost any other equipment the possibilities are endless!
For those of us new to resistance bands we have a dive into why they should be a part of your workout, how to choose the best ones for you and some basic exercises to get you started!
RESISTANCE BANDS BENEFITS
Resistance bands are a great way to achieve the effects of certain workouts without the need for lots of different equipment.
They’re versatile, adaptable and can be used equally for general fitness or a targeted workout. Bands are also a good way to help you improve on existing exercises that can be a challenge without any assistance - like pull-ups, triceps dips, or push-ups.
Exercising with resistance bands puts your muscles under more pressure than traditional exercises because when using bands your muscles are under consistent tension. This means your muscles are working at every point in the movement.
Think for example of a bicep curl, when you reach the final position of a bicep curl with weights you’re essentially resting briefly before bringing the weight back down. However, when you do it with a resistance band you have the band pulling back on your arm, so the rest point is just as much of a workout as the movement itself!
Something we’re huge fans of at Swifty Fitness is functional fitness, and resistance bands are great at just that. As you’re not being guided by a machine at the gym to do your movements, your body will be working a lot harder to keep you stabilised.
Basic movements will need a wider range of muscles to get involved and require more coordination throughout your whole body. Resistance bands are more like using free weights in this respect – but resistance bands offer many more benefits than free weights!
This free movement also gives you a stronger foundation as more muscles will be engaged when doing your movements. In turn, this can help give you a better understanding of how your body works, and find weaknesses.
Another strong positive for resistance bands use is how easily they can be integrated with other equipment. Simply loop them through the handle of equipment like the Swifty Double-Ups and you have a whole new take on lifting weights as well as basic exercises.
On the practical side, another huge benefit of resistance bands is that they’re small, light and incredibly easy to take around with you. They’ll easily fit in your bag and can be taken along wherever so if you’re away from the gym for a bit you can still keep active easily!
WHICH RESISTANCE BANDS TO BUY
There are lots of different types of resistance bands, so it can be a minefield knowing which ones to buy. To start with there are two main types – Loop resistance bands and resistance bands with handles. Then there are fabric resistance bands, hip resistance bands, figure 8 bands and more.
Swifty’s range of resistance bands are all looped resistance bands because we think this offers the greatest variety of usability and workout possibilities. Looped bands are measured in lbs to help differentiate the level you should be looking at, so higher lbs mean a thicker band and harder to manoeuvre.
What is important to remember when buying is that resistance bands offer variable resistance.
This means that the tighter they get the more resistance they give. For example, look at the bicep curl again, at the start of the movement the band won’t offer much resistance but once your arm is contracted and the band is tight it’s going to take a lot more effort to move it.
You can also be very much in control of the strength of the bands by choosing how much slack you give it, for example, if you fold the band in half you’ll get double the resistance from it.
So long resistance bands may be of more interest because you can be more in control and build your strength up gradually. A simple shift of hand or foot position can change the strength of the band greatly!
It’s also recommended to get a couple of different bands. If you’re doing a full-body workout then it might be beneficial to have a heavier band for your leg exercises as they’ll generally be stronger than your arms, so the same band might not do the job you’re hoping it will.
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HOW TO USE RESISTANCE BANDS
Using resistance bands can seem daunting at first, they aren’t like a lot of other fitness equipment. But they aren’t as confusing as they seem, it just takes thinking in a different way to understand how to emulate certain workouts.
As with most new equipment, it’s best to first decide what you want to achieve from your workout and build your activity around that; are you hoping to build muscle in a certain area, improve general mobility, or just get active?
Once you’ve established this think of the basic exercises to achieve that and 99% of the time these can be emulated with resistance bands. Most of the time it will involve anchoring the bands around your feet or hands and moving your body to stretch the remaining section of the band in a different direction.
Most exercises can be done either alone in an open space or using an anchor point on a wall – maybe a door frame, pole or fence post (just make sure it’s not too abrasive a surface to cause damage to your bands).
Also, be careful when using resistance bands for the first few times, generally, during exercises, the band will be very taut at some points and should it slip could easily ping and hit you.
Best Resistance Band Exercises
Finding the right resistance band workout routine for you will take some trial and error depending on what results you’re hoping to get. There are a variety of different ways you can utilize them to work out your upper body, lower body, core and everything in between.
Below we highlight some of our favourite exercises to target the main muscle groups so whether you’re looking for a full-body resistance band workout or something more specific it will be covered below -
Resistance Bands Chest Workout
Chest exercises with resistance bands are one of the most popular reasons people turn to bands. Chest strength can help improve posture, contribute to improved back muscles and helps greatly with several common daily movements like pushing and swinging objects.
The beauty of these exercises is that other than the band you need no other equipment! We’ve chosen two exercises that show off how effectively resistance bands can at common chest exercises in the gym.
Resistance Bands Chest Press
Lay down on the floor with the resistance band behind your shoulders. Loop your hands into either side of the band. Start with your elbows touching the floor and extend both arms until they’re straight and the band is taut, lower back down and repeat.
Resistance Bands Chest Fly
Stood up with your hands looped through the band, place it along your upper back (just under your shoulders). Start with your arms back as far as is comfortable and bring them around so they touch in front of you, slowly return to the first position and repeat.
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Resistance Bands Ab Workout
Resistance bands ab exercises are another common reason for turning to bands. Building strength in your abs has more benefits than just giving you the chance to show off a six-pack. Strong abs are key to maintaining a better posture, preventing lower back pain and improves your balance.
For these exercises, we’ve chosen two classic ab burners that are often performed without any equipment. By adding resistance to the exercises it increases the intensity of them so you can push the workouts to new levels.
Sat on the floor with your feet out in front of you, loop the resistance band around the bottom of your feet. Hold the other side of the resistance band in front of your chest, and twist your upper body around so you touch the floor, then twist to touch the other side, repeat. You can push your feet further away to make the exerciser tougher.
Lay down flat on the floor with the resistance band looped under your feet and the other end in both hands. Pull on the band and lift your legs and upper body so you’re in a V-sit position, hold for a second and slowly lower yourself down, repeat.
Resistance Bands Back Workout
Back exercises with resistance bands are maybe slightly less common but not something we should be overlooking! Focusing on strengthening your back can help to improve overall posture, protect against potential back pain and provide stronger support to your spine!
These two exercises are typical back strengtheners that adding resistance to can take to a new level. The first utilizes both arms to give a wider back workout while the second is a single-arm movement, so you could vary the weight of band you use for each exercise.
Stand with your legs shoulder-width apart and the band under your feet. Hold onto either end of the band with both hands. Bend your upper body over to be parallel with the ground and bend your knees a bit. Raise your arms to the side as far as you can, slowly lower, and repeat.
Loop either end of the band around both feet and step into a lunge position. Grab the middle of the band with one hand and lift it until your arms make a 90° angle, slowly return and repeat.
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Resistance Bands Leg Workout
Legs and glutes are one of the key reasons people turn to resistance bands, so much so that there are specific leg resistance bands to help tone and strengthen your leg muscles. Looped resistance bands like Swifty Fitness’ work just as well however and give you some extra scope on the exercises you can do.
Resistance Bands Deadlift
Stand with your feet shoulder-width apart and with the resistance band under your feet. Squat down and grab the middle of the band, and lift your body so you’re standing straight. Slowly lower yourself back down and repeat.
Start on all fours with the resistance band looped around your foot and hold on to the other side with both hands. Staying in the all-fours position kick your leg out straight behind you, hold for a second at full stretch and slowly bring it back to the starting position and repeat.
Resistance Bands Arm Workout
Stronger arms are a big reason for many heading to gyms, but as you can find with resistance bands you don’t need a wealth of equipment to get the arm results you’re looking for. The 2nd exercise here does have you going outside to a pull-up bar or any similar bar you can use, as the benefits of pull-ups are well established and popular.
Stand with your feet close to each other with the resistance band under your feet. Bend down and grab the outer end with both hands. With a slight bend in your arms raise both arms out the side of your body as far as you can. Slowly return to the first position and repeat.
Resistance Bands Pull-Ups
Hang your resistance band over a pull-up bar, put your knee through the loop and grab onto the bar. Lower yourself so you’re hanging with your arms straight, lift your body so your chin is in line with the bar, slowly lower yourself, repeat.