Jump on the Bandwagon: Resistance Training

10.26.2011 / Blog Posts Health and Wellness

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For those times when you can’t make it to the gym, resistance bands offer an inexpensive and portable way to get a full-body strength training workout, at home or on the road. Below are a number of such exercises that can be performed with resistance bands to work different muscles throughout the body. Remember the importance of warming up for 5-10 minutes and to stretch as I wrote about in an earlier blog post!

For beginners, it’s best to do one set of 12-15 repetitions of each exercise. Intermediate exercises (those who have been lifting weights or using resistance bands for more than 3 months) should try to complete two or three sets of 12-15 reps. Make sure to stretch each muscle group at the end of the entire workout to improve flexibility.

SEATED ROW (Lats) - Sit on the floor and grab one handle. Wrap band around a sofa leg or some type of anchor close to the ground and grab the other handle. Sit back so there is tension on the band when your arms are extended forward. Extend your legs in front of you with your knees slightly bent. Pull the handles so that your elbows form right angles as you squeeze your shoulder blades together. Bring your elbows together as far back as you can, keeping a neutral spine. Slowly let your arms extend back to the starting position and begin the second repetition. Be sure not to slouch.

BENCH PRESS (Pecs) - Secure the center of the band at chest level, palms facing down, and face away from the anchor, grabbing the handles in each hand. Begin with your thumbs at your armpits and step far enough away from the anchor so that the band is not gapping at this starting position. Fully extend your arms in front of your body. Slowly release to the starting position.

MILITARY PRESS (Deltoids) - Stand on the center of the band with your feet shoulder width apart. With palms facing forward and hands by your shoulders, extend your arms straight up by your head while keeping your back straight and abdominal muscles tight. Slowly lower and repeat.

TRICEPS EXTENSION (Triceps) - Step on the band and pull one handle up behind your head. Bring your elbow up close to your ear and, beginning with your arm bent behind you, extend straight up until your arm is straight. You may use your other arm to hold your elbow in close to your head. Slowly lower back to the starting position.

BICEPS CURL (Biceps) - Step on one end of the resistance band and grab the handle with the same hand. Be sure there is some tension on the band when your arm is extended down by your side with your palm facing up toward your shoulder. Keep your wrist straight and bend only at the elbow. Slowly release and repeat. If you are using light resistance, you may be able to stand on the center of the band and work both arms together.

SQUATS (Quadriceps, Hamstrings, Glutes) - Stand on the band so that you are centered. Grab the handles with both hands with your feet about shoulder width apart. Hold the handles up by your shoulders and bend your knees as if you were going to sit in a chair. Return to standing and repeat. Be sure to drive your heels into the ground as you come out of the squat. Keep a flat back and contract your abdominals.

KNEELING CRUNCHES (Abdominals) - Anchor the band above your head and let the handles drop down. Kneel on the floor with the anchor behind you. Hold the handles with your hands up by your ears and keep your elbows in. Bending from the waist, curl down, bringing your head toward your knees and keeping the handles locked by your ears. Slowly return to the starting position.

Make sure your band is secured underfoot or on an anchor before you begin each exercise. Try a sofa leg, bedpost or something that is solid and sturdy. Test it with some strong tugs before you start your workout. Do your workout on carpet, wood flooring or grass – anywhere but asphalt or concrete because abrasive surfaces can tear your band.

A few reminders for good form:

- Always maintain good posture throughout each exercise
- Keep your knees slightly bent, your abs pulled in and your chest expanded
- Perform each exercise in a slow and controlled manner, to work against resistance both when you pull on the band and when you return to the starting position

See how easy it can be – only one piece of equipment and you can get a full-body workout! Don’t forget to add some good heart-pumping cardio exercise after your resistance band workout. Portable and effective!

Stay Healthy and Fit,

Becky Johnson is a certified personal trainer and contributes weekly fitness posts for WOW. Have your own questions for her? Leave them in the comments section below and she'll try to answer them in her next post!

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