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a woman using resistance bands

How to use resistance bands

Whether you’re a fitness enthusiast or simply want to improve your workouts, you might have already come across resistance bands.

These handy pieces of equipment were used initially in physical therapy to help patients recover from injuries. However, they are becoming increasingly common in our mainstream exercise routines too (as a quick glance through the latest YouTube workouts will prove).1

If you’re thinking about incorporating resistance bands into your training routines, we’ve got everything you need to know below.

What are the resistance bands?

The clue is sort of in the name for this one. Resistance bands are pieces of rubber that provide extra resistance or assistance to your movements. They usually come in a flat or tubular shape, although they can vary in size, thickness, and colour.2

You can use resistance bands for a wide variety of different exercises or movements. They can either make the workout easier or harder, depending on the type of band you use and the way you use it. You can use them for both cardio and strength training. They’re a great alternative to weight lifting too.

While that might sound a bit complicated, resistance bands are incredibly accessible. Whatever your skill level or workout requirements, you should find a resistance band to suit your needs.3

The different types of resistance bands

There is a vast range of resistance bands on the market, and they can vary between manufacturers. Generally, though, you’ll find three different tension levels (light, medium, and heavy). It’s usually a good idea to in a variety of tensions, as you may need to mix and match depending on which part of the body you are targeting.

You’ll also find a variety of styles on the market. These may include:4
  • Resistance bands with handles
  • Circular bands
  • Figure of eight bands
  • Double bands
  • Mini bands
If you’re using resistance bands for the first time, it’s worth keeping it simple. Think about choosing a variety of different tension levels, but a straightforward design (such as resistance bands with handles). Then, you can move up to more complicated versions when you grow in confidence.5

How to use resistance bands for cardio

While we usually associate resistance bands with strength training, they can be a great addition to your cardio routine too. You could try movements like:6
  1. Jumping jacks
  2. Squat hops
  3. Boxing
  4. Standing swimming
Remember to start with a light resistance band and work your way up the tension levels, to begin with. Going too hard too soon could result in injury.7 Prioritise your form over your speed until you get used to the movement.

How to use resistance bands for strength training

Strength training is an excellent use of resistance bands. These can replace weights in many movements. Plus, it’s easier to transport resistant bands on to go when compared with weights or kettlebells.8

You can use resistance bands in all areas of your workout. Some ideas include:

  1. Bicep curls
  2. Bent-over rowing
  3. Chest presses
  4. Glute bridges
  5. Lateral lunges
  6. Squats

Like when using your resistance bands for cardio, keep your form in mind when incorporating them into your strength training. It can feel a bit strange at first, so take time to get used to your bands before you try anything too complicated. There are plenty of tutorials available online for all levels of experience, so it’s worth watching an expert to help get you started.

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Last updated: 18 December 2020

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