HOW TO USE RESISTANCE BAND EXERCISES IN YOUR WORKOUTS
How Can You Use Resistance
Bands in Your Workout?
Resistance bands can be used for at least four different types of exercises:
- Stretching and mobility
- Warm ups and muscle activation
- Resistance training and “getting a pump”
- Developing the “mind-muscle” connection (learning to better “feel” your muscles working)
Each of these goals require you to use the bands slightly differently, but with each example, you can accomplish quite a bit with just a few bands.
Resistance Band Stretches and Mobility Work
Resistance band stretches can help you overcome the hardest part of stretching — feeling like you are limited by the range of motion in your muscles. You know this as “feeling tight.” (A.K.A. “I’m not flexible!”). Funny as it might sound, the limitation might really be in your head, or in another part of your body.
Think about a simple hamstring stretch, where you lie on your back with one leg on the floor and raise the other leg to the sky. Most of the time you use your hands to provide resistance. Simply looping a resistance band around your ankle can create a different movement pattern (because the pressure of pulling comes at a different angle — from your ankle instead of behind your knee), which might allow you to generate more range of motion.
It’s not magic, but most people will find they can get a better stretch with the resistance band variation. That’s because a resistance band can help you go deeper into a stretch, provide support, or help reduce the load of your bodyweight when you perform a move. That’s why many trainers consider bands to be a “must” for maximizing your mobility.
There are limitless ways you can use resistance bands to assist you when you stretch. Here are two examples—one for your upper body, one for your lower body.
Resistance Band Exercises
for Muscle Activation
Resistance band exercises can be used to strengthen or activate hard-to-hit muscles. For example, your shoulders are two areas that most people have troubling “feeling.” Because of continuous tension, bands are an effective way to help activation and work those muscles without supporting muscles taking over.
Band pull-aparts are a fantastic way to warm up your shoulders. Remember how bands help create more tension throughout the movement? Tension means more blood flow. More blood flow means you’re muscles will feel warm. It’s like adding oil to a squeaky break.
When performing the movement, make sure you don’t have too much slack in the band, because if you do that takes the tension off of your shoulders. The band pull-apart is also effective because it works your shoulders in a pattern that is often overlooked.
Think about how much time you spend at your desk with your shoulders slouched. The band pull-apart works the opposite range of motion, meaning it helps pull your shoulders back into their correct alignment, improving your posture.
Better posture means less pain. And because you’re pulling the band apart, that means you have maximum tension with minimum weight. This is something that isn’t always easy with weights like dumbbells.