Resistance bands can be a simple way to make your home workouts more challenging (Picture: Getty)
If your fitness routine has moved mainly to your living room or bedroom, you’re probably after fitness kit that is compact and easy to use.
Resistance bands have boomed in popularity during lockdown for this very reason. They take up basically zero space, and they add resistance and difficulty to simple moves – without the need for bulky or expensive weights.
But, after you’ve bought your bands and you’re in your kit – you might be at a loss on where to start.
Sure, you can watch videos on Insta and TikTok, but not everyone dishing out fitness advice on social media is actually qualified, so you want to be careful and make sure you perfect your form.
To cut through some of the misinformation and to reduce your risk of injuries, or just an ineffective workout, we asked trained fitness professionals to share their top tips for using this magic piece of fitness kit effectively.
‘I have always found resistance bands to be a really unappreciated piece of fitness equipment,’ says Anthony Mayatt owner of Breathe Fitness London.
‘Lockdown has certainly helped bring up a reputation that should always have been there due to ease of use, no weight and easy to store.’
First, Anthony says you need to understand which band your using, and what the benefits are.
Different types of resistance bands
‘You have the old, original ones which are handles at the end of a long band varying resistance,’ says Anthony. ‘These are good, especially for the comfort of your hands, but I find over time these are the ones that wear down quickest at the point where handle meets band.’
Anthony says his personal favourites are the looped bands that have no handle – they are just a big circle.
‘This means tension is the same across the band and is much more versatile than a band with handles,’ he explains.
‘The last ones are mini bands, which really have a main use to target the glutes as they are smaller and wrap around the legs.
‘They can be used for other exercises as well, but were initially designed for glute activation.’
Ben Walker, personal trainer from Anywhere Fitness, agrees that small looped bands are your best option.
‘They are cheap and very effective for intensifying your lower-body workouts,’ Ben tells Metro.co.uk.
Resistance bands activate your glute muscles for a targetted workout (Credits: Getty Images/Cultura RF)
‘They add more resistance to the legs and glutes when doing dynamic workouts. Dynamic exercises demand a lot of directional movement and it can be tricky to target the muscle groups if trying to use larger resistance bands.’
For example, Ben suggests that during a mat workout, you can tie them around your ankles or knees to intensify workouts such as leg lifts, bridges, fire hydrants etc.
‘This makes smaller bands more useful for working muscles groups harder such as your quads, hamstrings, calves and glutes,’ he says.
‘It’s important to emphasise glutes in this instance. This muscle group is harder to isolate with exercises done with larger bands.
‘Sticking with the smaller bands, these muscles can be further engaged more when doing exercises in “standing position”. By wrapping the bands around the knees, you can intensify an exercise such as side squats a lot more.’
Ben adds that larger resistance bands are great for exercises that include the upper and lower body.
‘These workouts are great for your functional health for this particular reason,’ he explains.
‘A great investment would be to pick up powerbands that offer a light and heavier resistance. Light would be bands as thick as 13-15mm and large beyond 20mm.
‘When using these bands, try to pick exercises that work as many muscle groups as possible over a certain amount of repetitions.’
Home workout moves using resistance bands
‘You can train the whole body with bands and transfer from one exercise to the next quickly,’ says Anthony.
‘As long as you look after the bands, don’t use them on floor surfaces with jagged edges then they will last you for a very long time.’
Here are Anthony’s top exercises to help you get a full-body workout in a short space of time:
Squat and press
(Bands with handles/open-end bands)
You can do this exercise using the first two bands I mentioned.
Stand in what would be your natural position to squat and then place the middle of the band under your feet, stand and hold the other end of the band at shoulder height.
From here perform a squat then as you stand push the band up and overhead creating a shoulder press, return to the start and repeat.
This hits the legs and shoulders and as they are the body parts furthers from each other it means the blood will really be flowing in this movement increasing your HR and working all the muscles hard.
(Larger, open-end bands)
Tie the band to a door handle as that’s around waist height or find something solid and stable around the same height you can tie it to.
From here you stand sideways to the band and pull it across your body in a semi circular movements and this will really target your core and arms. Ideally have the arms out straight but if you struggle with that then bend the arms whilst you practice.
Perform the same number on both sides to avoid any imbalances.
This is a superb exercise using the mini loop bands and is a great exercise to target your glutes.
Place the band around your legs just under the knees.
Stand in a light squat and then take a few steps one way before doing the same number back. This is really guaranteed to get your glutes burning.
I personally use looped and mini bands with my clients and myself and find you can do the most with them and makes the exercises and resistance harder if you want to progress.
Here are Ben’s top three resistance-band workout moves:
Anterior raise with lateral pull apart
(Large resistance band)
This workout involves two exercises in one movement.
Stand on one side of the resistance band roughly shoulder-width apart. Hold the opposite end of the band at same distance apart.
Rest both hands at your thighs. Raise your arms directly in front of your body until at 90 degrees.
Keeping your arms straight and without bending the elbows, transition into the band pull apart.
Pull the band towards your chest by pushing both arms away from the body in a lateral direction. Separate the band apart until it briskly touches your chest.
Repeat the same movement in reverse to return to the starting position.
(Large resistance band)
Stand on the band with feet shoulder-width apart.
Tuck your elbows by your sides. Before each repetition, hold the resistance band just above your collarbone.
Make sure to maintain an overhand grip with your palms facing forward. .
Extend your arms over head until they’re completely straight. Keep your core braced, look ahead, and try not to sway while performing this movement.
Pause for a second before lowering your arms back to the starting position.
(Large resistance band)
Stand on the band with your feet shoulder-width apart.
Hold the band with a neutral grip and look straight ahead during each repetition.
When lowering yourself to the floor, bend your knees and push back with your hips. Keep your arms straight and shoulders slightly back.
Push out with your chest and maintain a neutral spine position by engaging your core. Keep your torso upright, hips square, and back straight throughout.
Lower yourself until your hands are situated close to your ankles. Drive through your heels and hips to return the starting position.
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