When it comes to strength training, many of us usually will stick to the standard free weights and machines or, you’re feeling a little frisky, we might try to venture over towards the cable or free motion machines while we’re at the gym. What you don’t see at the gym is work with resistance bands incorporated into exercising. Resistance bands have plenty of benefits for you and your body.

Some people often get confused about what a resistance band actually does and how to use one, but they’re an excellent way to workout while you travel or add variety to your usual routine.

Resistance Bands

The resistance from these bands feels so different when compared to other types of equipment in the gym. When you use the free weights, gravity will decide where the pressure will come from, when doing this you will get a lot more resistance during some parts of the movements. For example, the upswing of a biceps curl than the downswing. With bands, the tension is constant, which makes it feel harder. Bands work much like a cable machine, allowing you to keep constant tension on the muscle. You’ll also incorporate more stabilizer muscles to keep the band in alignment throughout each exercise, adding a different dynamic to the same old moves.

Resistance bands are not as challenging as the machines or dumbbells. With weights, you will know exactly how much you’re lifting. But with bands, you can only go by how it feels and the tension on the band. That doesn’t mean you’re not getting a good workout, though. If you use good form and the right level of tension, your muscle fibers won’t know the difference between weights or bands. Plus, these bands can offer more of a variety because you can create the resistance from all directions–the side, overhead, below, etc.

If you don’t know how to use the bands, it can be very confusing trying to figure them out. You also want to keep in mind that you can perform the same exercises as you do with free weights with the bands the difference lies in positioning the band. For example, you could stand on the band and grip the handles for bicep curls or overhead presses. You can also attach it to a door and do triceps pushdowns. You can wrap the band around a pole or chair for some chest exercises or even shoulder rotations. You can even try to do some exercises on the floor like the seated biceps curls. The possibilities you will find with these bands are basically endless, and you’ll find there are some exercises and workouts available to you.

Why Should You Try Resistance Bands?

The resistance bands travel well. For example, you can easily pack them in your suitcase for travel and do exercises in the car or your hotel room. They are super light and easily compacted to barely anything, meaning there is plenty of room in your luggage for other items.

Resistance bands can and have been known to increase your coordination. Because of the tension throughout the exercises, you have to stabilize your body. This exercise will help you with coordination, balance and it also helps you involve more muscle groups.

Resistance bands help you add variety to your workouts. With weights, you can often be limited to how many exercises you can do. But, the resistance band will allow you to change your positioning in multiple ways. Doing this changes how your body works and how an exercise feels.

They’re ideal for all fitness levels. Depending on how you use them, bands can be perfect for beginners as well as more advanced exercisers. You can use them for basic moves or add intensity to traditional moves.You can sometimes find the workout movies that show you how or what to do with your resistance band. These films are beneficial for beginners or less advanced.

Some Resistance Band Exercises

If you’re ready to try your resistance bands, below is a list of basic moves to get you started.

Chest Press – For this exercise, you want to wrap the band and a chair behind you. You could also wrap it around a pole, rail or use the door attachment to secure the band to the door. The resistance band should be right at about your chest level, and you should step far enough away from the door that you get constant tension on the band. If you’re in a chair, you might need to wrap the bands around your hands several times for more tension. Keep your elbows in a ‘goal-post’ position, meaning, parallel to the floor throughout the movement. And push out and back for about 16 reps.

Rotating Chest Press – You wrap the band around a sturdy object and then loop one handle through the other, securing it tightly. Then step away from the anchor until you have a good amount of tension on the band and begin with the right side towards the anchor, leave your arm straight. Rotate the body, pivoting on the feet, and bring the right around all the way across and touch the left fingers. Repeat this for at least 16 reps on each side.

Seated High Row – For this move, you can keep the band where it is, unhook the handles and turn around so that you’re facing the band. This exercise targets the upper back, so make sure you squeeze the back without arching or pulling the elbows too far back.

Bicep Curls– For the bicep curl, you should stand on the band with both feet (harder) or with one foot (easier). To make the tension harder stand on the band with both feet or to make the pressure easier stand on the band with just one foot. Then hold the handles in each hand and curl up in a bicep curl, just as you would with dumbbells. You can make this exercise harder by stepping with your feet wide or by using a heavier band.

Squats with an Overhead Press – You will want to use a light band for this exercise. If you do not have a light band and only have a heavy band, you can simply do this exercise with one arm at a time. You want to start this exercise by standing on the band and hold the handles up towards the shoulders and remember to keep your elbows bent to create more tension. Squat and then, as you stand up, press the weights overhead.