Don’t Resist Resistance Bands
Resistance bands can give you a total body workout, virtually anywhere. This alternative to standard weight lifting equipment, such as dumbbells or barbells, is portable and versatile and requires minimal space.
Resistance bands are small elastic loops or long elastic tubes that vary in color. Each color indicates resistance level, from light to very heavy. If you are new to resistance band training, start light and work your way to heavier as exercises start to feel easier.
In some exercises, resistance bands can activate your muscles more than standard weights. Research suggests this could be because a resistance band is more unstable and requires more strength to keep it from going slack. Try these exercises to start feeling the burn:
Hamstring curl. Stand behind a chair and step both feet inside the loop. Position the band around your ankles and place one or both hands on the chair for balance. Shift your body weight to one leg. With knees aligned, contract one hamstring and bend your “free” leg 90 degrees toward your buttocks. Lower and repeat.
Upper back. While standing, grasp the band so your hands are slightly wider than your shoulders. With palms facing the floor, lift your arms to chest height. Pull your shoulder blades together as you stretch the band. Return to center and repeat.
Bicep curl. While sitting, place the center of a resistance band under your feet to hold it steady. Hold each end of the band with palms facing inward. Keep elbows at your sides. Bend your elbows and bring your hands toward your shoulders. Lower and repeat.
Don’t place a resistance band directly over a joint. Put it above or below.
Use resistance bands for 10 to 20 minutes twice a week.
Complete one or more sets of 20 slow repetitions of each exercise.
Train on the go
Resistance bands are easy to take with you anywhere—work, on vacation, the park, even a friend’s house. The next time you step out for a walk or go on vacation, find a spot in your bag for your resistance bands and figure out ways to work them into your day.