8 Resistance Band Exercises You Can Do Anywhere
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Whether you’re looking for a way to work out at home on the cheap, or you want to work out while traveling without searching for a local gym or lugging cumbersome gear, resistance bands are some of the best pieces of exercise equipment you can buy.
“Resistance bands are versatile, inexpensive, portable, and easy to use,” says ACE-certified personal trainer Makeba Edwards, EXOS Fitness Program Manager. “Plus, when you use resistance bands, you need to stabilize yourself in order to control your movements, which requires you to activate multiple muscle groups at once.”
Here are the best resistance band exercises to add to your next at-home or on-the-go workout. For each of these movements, aim for 2 to 3 sets of 12 to 15 reps.
1. Lateral Band Walk
- Stand with your feet hip-width apart on the center of a resistance band. Cross the band in front of you.
- Grip a handle in each hand and stand with knees slightly bent, hands by your shoulders, palms facing in, and elbows tucked close to your sides (similar to the starting position for a dumbbell push press).
- Keeping your back flat and abs engaged, push your hips back, bend your knees, and lower your body into a squat, shifting your weight toward your heels.
- Maintain the squat as you simultaneously raise your hips several inches and step your right foot out to the right, then lower your hips fully.
- Again raise your hips several inches as you bring your left foot together with your right, and lower again fully, maintaining tension in the band so that your knees don’t cave inward.
- Repeat to the opposite side, alternating sides for reps. Perform an equal number of reps on each side.
- If you own a set of resistance loops, you can also do the lateral band walk by fitting the loop around your legs just above both knees.
2. Band Military Press
- Stand on the center of a resistance band with feet hip-width apart, knees slightly bent, hips neutral, and abs braced.
- Stabilize your core and lower body. Hold one end of the resistance band in each hand and bring your hands to shoulder height with palms facing forward.
- Press the band overhead, straightening your arms without locking your elbows.
- Return to the starting position with hands at shoulder height.
3. Bird Dog Press
- Come to your hands and knees with your hands directly below your shoulders and your knees directly below your hips.
- Place a resistance band handle around your one foot and hold the other handle in your opposite hand. The band should be taut; if you’re using a long band, you may need to wrap the band around the back of your hand.
- Extend your banded arm in front of you and your banded leg behind you, keeping your core braced and back flat. Pause, then return to the starting position.
- Perform all of your reps on one side, switch arms and legs, and repeat.
4. Straight Arm Pulldown
- Secure a resistance band with handles to a stable, immobile object just above head height (a door works well if you have a door anchor for the resistance band).
- Grab the handles with your arms extended straight out in front of you and palms facing down. Step back until you feel tension in the band. This is the starting position.
- Keeping your chest up, shoulders down, and arms straight, simultaneously pull both handles down to your sides. Pause, and then return to the starting position.
5. Heel Curve
- Sit with knees bent and both feet flat on the floor. Run the middle of the resistance band under both feet and hold the handles at your chest.
- Keeping your core engaged, lean back slightly, creating a C curve in the spine. Holding this position, lift your feet until they’re approximately chest height off the floor.
- Separate your feet as wide as you can, then tap the floor with your heels. Lift your feet again, bring them back together, and tap the floor with your heels once more.
- Continue this sequence until you complete your reps, maintaining tension on the band throughout the movement.
6. Abductor Lift
- Stand with feet hip-width apart on a resistance band.
- Cross the end of bands in front of you to form an X and take one handle in each hand. Holding the handles close to your hips to create tension. If there’s not enough tension, hold a few inches farther down on the band.
- Bend your knees slightly. Maintaining your balance, lift one leg out to the side as far as possible. Return to the starting position and repeat on the other side.
7. Chest Press
- Wrap the resistance band behind your upper back and grab an end of the resistance band in each hand, a few inches below the handles. The farther down you grab, the more resistance you’ll create. (You can also anchor the band behind you using a door anchor.)
- Bend your elbows and lift your hands to chest level, forearms parallel to the floor, palms facing down.
- Press your arms in front of you at chest height until fully extended. Pause, then return to the starting position.
8. Resistance Band Biceps Curl
- Stand with your feet hip-width apart on the center of a resistance band. Grab a handle in each hand, with your arms down at your sides and palms facing forward.
- Keeping your core engaged and elbows at your sides, curl the ends of the band toward your shoulders. Avoid leaning back; your shoulders should be directly over your hips.
- Pause, then slowly lower your arms to return to the starting position.
Do Resistance Band Exercises Work?
Research suggests resistance band exercises can be a solid stand-in for weights and strength training machines. A 2017 study compared elastic resistance bands to barbells and cable machines and found that resistance bands produced only marginally lower muscle activation during lat pulldowns, rows, and deadlifts.
Another study compared resistance bands to dumbbells and found that resistance bands produced greater muscle activation of the deltoideus anterior in flys and the deltoideus medius and trapezius descendens in reverse flys.
In short: Resistance band exercises can be some of the most effective exercises out there. You can use the resistance band exercises below to get a full-body workout — or target a specific muscle group with resistance band exercises for legs, arms, or abs.