Resistance bands are such a versatile tool but almost always overlooked. It’s easy to write them off because most people are used to super light ones and not aware of all the benefits they can actually bring.
Training with resistance bands I’ve found allows you to develop a better mind muscle connection to the exercise. Because you’ve taken away the focus on adding weights, you can spend more quality time focusing on a good range of motion, strong contraction at the top, and a good stretch at the bottom. The other benefit is the resistance curve it provides. Not many other tools get harder the more you stretch them out. Most band kits come with a door anchor too, which allows you to come from the top down, bottom up, or horizontal.
Keeping all these benefits in mind, we can now come up with a full body list of top exercises when using resistance bands. This will be great for if you are at home and needing a great workout, traveling, or just want to mix it up in your regular routine. Bands offer great pump work without extensively damaging the muscle.
Hip Bridges – lying on your back and putting the band around your knees during a hip bridge, allows you to come up and not only focus on squeezing the glutes, but making sure your knees don’t cave in. You can really focus on pushing the legs outward against the band allowing you to activate the outside glutes, which are often really cue.
Squats – Because of the different resistance curve, using banded squats can get you to challenge your depth at the bottom where the resistance is easiest. People often struggle with this and can’t get that opportunity with regular weights. You could even do isometric holds to really get that bottom position locked in.
Stiff Legged Deadlift – A barbell lets you get a good stretch at the bottom of a stiff legged deadlift. Bands will let you really squeeze the glutes at the top. You can even make it harder and go single leg, or pull tighter on the band to make it more difficult. This is a great option if you have trouble activating your glutes or cueing the muscles for a deadlift.
Banded Push-Ups – If you want to very quickly make your push-ups more challenging than wrapping a band around your back and onto your hands will do the trick. It can bring your rep range back down and force you to really work on locking out at the top which will transfer to your bench movements back in the gym.
Straight Arm Pulldowns – I used to LOVE doing this when I had trouble activating my lats. Lats are one of those muscles if you aren’t really thinking and focusing hard on contracting that muscle, you can ruin your entire back workout. Start light with this one. It will also keep you really aware of your posture. You need to be upright with the chest sticking out in order to engage the lats properly as you stretch and bring the band to your hips from the top.
Pull Aparts – Also great for addressing a rounded out position which we all succumb to by sitting at our desks every day. It will also do wonders to keep your shoulders tracking properly and activating those often neglected rear delts.
Upright Rows – Most people try to pull with the arms. The key to a good upright row is letting the elbows lead. Bands do a great job of allowing that since you can keep the band close to your body. The issue with regular weights is, it can become very easy to let the weight get too far in front of you causing you to hunch over which isn’t good.
Hammer Curls – A lot of us get wrist pain, and forearm weakness. We also don’t focus on neutral grip work enough. Hammer curls not only work your biceps, but using bands allows you to get a nice strong grip on the bands, strengthening your wrist and forearms.
Overhead Tricep Extension – I love doing this exercise with bands. It gives me a stretch and connection to this exercise I just can’t get with dumbbells. It also is hardest at the top which allows me to get a really strong squeeze on my triceps when I get to the top.
Wood Chops – It’s hard to find core work other than planks and crunches. Wood Chops are hands down my favorite ab exercise. Bands do a great job making sure you get a squeeze at the end but also challenging your anti-rotation since it will be always trying to pull you back the opposite direction. This is a must if you want to build good trunk stability and a solid set of obliques.
This isn’t a full list, but a highly effective starting point that will hit your full body and allow for good stimulation. Give these a try for 4-6 weeks as its own program, or add them into your existing program and see what changes are made to your physique.