Exercising at home is difficult, we get it ?
Chaos outside, constant distractions inside, comfy couches and the fridge is just an arm span away. When you’re stuck at home it’s easy to turn into a sloth and fall into an unhealthy routine, but what matters mostly is not how you move, but that you actually do move at all.
Doing a workout or even just going for a brisk walk can dramatically improve your physical health and overall mental well-being. It can also help reduce anxiety during these times of uncertainty.
If you already have the GymStreak app, you can check out a big collection of home workout exercise to choose from. Here is a little example of - how to add a custom body weight workout
Otherwise if you are just getting into home workouts or looking to spice up your routine but don't have the GymStreak App yet ( which you totally should) we've got you covered - resistance bands.
Don’t look down on resistance bands just because they look simple. There’s a reason why everyone you know seems to own a set – or more – of these. Not only do they add an extra challenge to bodyweight exercises without the same amount of pressure that external weights do, but they’re also excellent for targeting smaller stabilizing muscles that you may typically overlook in your routine! And not to mention, they’re small and lightweight – making them the perfect, portable fitness equipment to your gym bag essentials.
But admittedly, the different types and colors of resistance bands can be overwhelming. To help you navigate the confusing world of stretchy rubber, here’s a guide to everything you need to know about using resistance bands in your workouts.
What are resistance bands?
Unless you’ve been living under a rock, you’ve probably already seen someone at the gym using these. To be sure everyone is on the same page, though, resistance bands are just thick, colorful elastic bands that come in a variety of thicknesses, sizes, and shapes. While the colors, width, and amount of resistance will vary by brand, a thicker band typically equals more resistance.
So, if you're doing a glute bridge, a band with higher resistance will make the movement more difficult for you. In some sense, it's somewhat like you performing the exercise with a 'heavier weight.'
And here’s where it gets tricky: resistance bands can also help make a movement easier. In cases like the band-assisted pull-ups, for example, the higher the resistance, the easier the movement. Here, you can think of it like the machine-assisted pull-up. The more weight you use to assist yourself in the exercise, the easier it is to perform the motion.
Different types of resistance bands
If you look through Amazon for resistance bands, you'd likely come across five main types. Here's a brief guide to what each of them is good for, so you can pick the best one suited to your fitness goals (and moves):
1. Tube bands with handles – Also known as ‘handled bands,’ tube bands look like jump ropes made out of cylindrical rubber. You’ll find heavy-duty pulley handles on each end for a secure grip. These are typically great for upper-body exercises, like the lateral raises, for example.
2. Large loop bands – These bands form a large, closed loop like a rubber band and are usually about 40 inches long. While many people use these to perform band-assisted pull-ups, they can also be used to do exercises like row, chest presses, chest flys, lunges, and even triceps kickbacks.
3. Mini bands – Think large loop bands, but smaller. You've probably seen them on your favorite female fitness influencers; these are typically put around the thighs for a serious glute pump during the lateral band walk.
4. Figure-eight bands – These are made of the same cylindrical rubber as tube bands, but come in (yes, you guessed it) the shape of an 8. Similar to tube bands, figure-eight bands are more suited for upper-body workouts.
5. Therapy bands – Think large loop bands, but thinner and constructed without the loop. Yes, these look like rectangular strips of rubber. Therapy bands, as its name implies, are typically used in physical therapy for mobility. You can also use them to improve your mobility during your rest days, too.
Resistance bands Full-body workout example
For the days where you're traveling, in the process of building up your home gym, or looking for a change, give the following banded full-body workout routine a try. Treat it as you would a HIIT routine: if you're not feeling tired at the end of the final exercise (squat to overhead press), feel free to carry on for another round or two. You can increase the resistance of your bands or add extra sets and reps as you deem fit.
One-arm biceps curl (12 – 15 reps each side)
1. Stand with feet shoulder-width apart with both feet on the resistance band.
2. Grasp the band with one hand, with it down at your side, palm facing forward.
3. Bend at the elbow and lift your arm toward your shoulders until you get a good biceps contraction.
4. Lower your arm slowly to your side.
5. Repeat for the desired number of reps, then switch arms.
Chest flye (12 – 15 reps)
1. Hold the resistance band in both hands, and arms stretched straight out to your sides at chest height.
2. Press the band straight out in front of you, bringing your hands together with your arms fully extended. Be sure to squeeze your chest muscles as you press.
3. Slowly return to the starting position. That’s one rep.
Side-lying hip abduction (10 – 12 each side)
1. Lie on your side with your hips and knees bent at 90 degrees, with the resistance band looped just above your knees.
2. Raise the upper leg to pull your knees apart while contracting your glutes for two to three seconds, then slowly return to the starting position.
3. Do all your reps on one side, then switch.
Splitter (8 – 10 reps)
1. Stand with your knees slightly bent and your feet shoulder-width apart.
2. Grip a shoulder-width section of the resistance band with both hands in front of you at shoulder height.
3. Keeping your arms straight, pull the band out and back until your shoulder blades contract.
4. Slowly return to starting position.
Lateral walk (8 – 10 steps in each direction)
1. Loop one resistance band just above your knees and another around your ankles.
2. Drop into a half squat position with your feet shoulder-width apart to create tension in the bands.
3. Then take a small step to the side, keeping tension in the bands as you move.
4. Do all the steps in one direction, then switch.
Squat to overhead press (8 – 10 reps)
1. Stand on the resistance band with your feet shoulder-width apart.
2. Position your hands at shoulder level with your palms facing up, holding the resistance band.
3. Drop into a squat, then push back up and fully extend your arms, so you raise the resistance band overhead.
4. Then lower slowly into another squat.
And – that's it. You now know how to incorporate resistance bands into your workout! Once you're familiar with how they work, you'll start spotting all kinds of opportunities to use them in your regular weightlifting exercises.
If you are beginner or looking for more exercises have a look at the ultimate guide to no-equipment home workouts.
Alternatively Download GymStreak, the AR-enabled personal trainer app. We have a ton of simulations for bodyweight exercises on the app. Project, and learn in real-time. It’s that simple. In the meantime, do take care and stay safe!