A UVA Heart & Vascular Center Initiative

Work Out On the Go with Resistance Bands

Posted September 19, 2017

Resistance bands are one of the most affordable and portable exercise tools. They can help to increase your coordination and flexibility, isolate and strengthen specific muscle groups and ease tightness. Whether you are on the road or on a budget, you can find a resistance band workout that works for you.

Just about anyone, at any level of fitness, can incorporate resistance band training into their routine. However, it’s a good idea to consult with a fitness professional before you start a resistance band program to find out which bands and exercises are best for you. A personal trainer or physical therapist can also make sure you are using the right form and are in the best alignment while performing your exercises.

Choose a Band
It’s best to buy a variety of resistance bands and experiment with the different kinds to find the ones you like best: some have handles to hook in doorways, some are tubular and others are flat. Personal preference is your best guide. You’ll also want to buy bands of varying tension to use for different muscle groups.

Take the Path of the Least (or Most) Resistance?
When you first begin to work out with a band, you shouldn’t feel much resistance. If you are fairly weak and using a taut band, you may not be able to achieve full range of motion and get the safest, most effective workout. You can always adjust the workout by changing the band, changing its position or varying your movements. Doing more reps or using bands with more tension will increase the level of difficulty.

5 Exercises That Will Work You to the Core
Ready to give it a try? The following exercises work the arms, back, shoulder, gluteus, abdominals and legs, while encouraging you to focus on your core:

1. Standing squats with overhead band shoulder press
Loop your band under your feet, with legs shoulder-width apart. Hold the ends of the band with hands at shoulder level, palms facing forward. Squat down as if you are sitting in a chair. As you come up, raise your arms overhead in a shoulder press. Return arms to shoulder level. Repeat.

2. Alternating single-leg stand with resisted shoulder rows
Attach your resistance band to a door. Hold ends in each hand straight out in front of your chest. Bend one knee and lift the bent leg as high as you comfortably can, maintaining your balance. Squeeze your shoulder blades together and pull your elbows back to complete a row. Elbows should remain close to your body. Release hands back to start, drop leg and repeat on the other side.

3. Diagonal band chops
Step on one end of the resistance band with your left foot. Step the right foot out so that it is a little wider than hip distance apart. Grab the other end of the band with both hands, arms straight and directed down toward the left foot. Raise arms in a chopping motion, diagonally across your body toward your right shoulder. Slowly release arms back down toward your left leg. Repeat.

4. Standing resisted band shoulder raises
Loop the band under your feet. Grab the ends of the resistance band and begin with hands down at your sides. Raise your arms straight out to the sides until you reach shoulder level. Slowly lower down and repeat.

5. Leg extension
Lie on your back. Bend one knee to your chest and loop the band around the arch of the raised foot. Hold the ends of the resistance band securely, with elbows firmly planted by your sides. Extend the bent leg straight out at a 45 degree angle from the floor and hold briefly. Bend the knee back to the chest and repeat. Do the same exercise with the other leg.

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