Gyms across the country are closed and its less than ideal for those of looking to build muscle, but it doesn’t mean all hope (and our muscle mass) is lost.
You might not be able to pick up a heavy barbell or have access to the latest resistance machines, but thanks to the humble resistance band, you can still build (or worst case scenario – maintain), your muscles, ready to hit the gym again when everything returns to “normal”.
The great thing about resistance bands is that they are so versatile and as their name suggests, they can provide different degrees of resistance to your exercises, either by buying a selection of different bands or by simply changing the position of your hands and feet across the band.
Of course, working out at home with resistance bands may not be as optimal as having a full range of barbells and dumbbells in the gym, but the majority of movements can be successfully replicated.
Remember, our muscles don’t know whether we’ve got a band, dumbbell or the pet dog in our hands, all our muscles know is that tension is being placed on them. So, the goal is to try and create as much tension as possible, with the bands, so we can continue to create enough tissue damage to build muscle.
Below, we have resistance band exercises for each body part, use them all at once for an effective full body workout or add them into your current training, to add in more variety and stimulus.
For all exercises, avoid locking out at your joints, to ensure you keep constant tension of the muscle group and increase/decrease resistance by moving hands closer to or further away from your feet/point of fixture.
Squats (Glutes/Quads) – Stand on your band, placing your feet just wider than shoulder width apart. Depending on whether you have a loop band or handled band, you can either place the band over your head and across the back of you shoulders (to mimic a back squat) or simply hold the handles/band at either side of your body.
Lunges (quads) – Whether you perform reverse, static or foot elevated lunges on your sofa, you can effectively add resistance by placing your band under your front foot and holding on to either side. Keep arms straight throughout so you don’t lose tension, and maintain a back straight, with shoulders pinned back.
RDL’s (Hamstrings) – Much like resistance band squats, RDL’s can be performed with the band across your shoulders (replicating a good morning) or by holding them at your side. Push hips back until you feel a stretch down the back of you legs.
Rows (Rhomboids, Mid Traps, Lats) – Rows can be performed a number of different ways, allowing you to hit your back muscles from various angles. You can simply sit on the floor and loop the band around your feet with legs out straight (seated row). Place the band over the top of a door and pull downwards (lat pull down) or loop it around the leg of your sofa and perform bent over rows. Whichever movement you choose, always keep shoulder pinned back and pull from the elbows for a full contraction.
Pull Aparts (Upper Traps, Rear Delts) – Simply hold the band in front of your face, with arms outstretched, but slightly bent. Pull the band apart, focusing on contracting your rear delts and traps to complete the movement. Place your hands close enough together, so that there is still tension when you return to the start position.
Press Ups (Pecs, Front Delts) – In a standard press up position, have the band placed under each hand on the floor, with the band going across your upper back. Perform press ups as normal, switching your hand position from narrow, standard and wide to hit your chest from all angles and to change the resistance created.
Fly’s (Pecs) – If you have a bench at home these can be performed similar to dumbbell fly’s by looping the band underneath. If your bands allow, they can also be performed by attaching to a door and replicating standing cable fly’s. If those aren’t an option then simply lie on the floor face up, with the band across your upper back, raise your hips and lower back off the floor to create a greater ROM and perform fly’s holding the ends of the band in each hand.
Military Press (Front/Side/Rear Delts) – Standing upright, place the band under your feet and take a shoulder width stance. Holding the band just wider than shoulder width apart, push overhead, keeping your core engaged. This exercise can also be performed behind your shoulder flexibility allows. To increase difficulty, perform unilaterally.
Upright Rows (Traps, Front/Side Delt) – Place the band under your feet and stand upright. Grab the band around knee height or closer to your feet for increased resistance. Pull the band upwards, keeping your elbows higher than your hands at all times. Extra tension can also be created by pulling your hands apart at the top of the movement.
Bicep/Hammer Curls (Bicep, Brachialis) – Being smaller muscles groups, arms can respond really well to resistance bands. To hit the biceps, you can simply stand on the resistance band and perform standing regular, drag or hammer curls or loop the band around a fixed point and perform curls lying flat on the floor, keeping your elbows pressed against the floor throughout. Use different angles (e.g. curling across your body) to fully work the bicep.
Tricep Extensions (Triceps) -Much like lying curls, the triceps can be worked by performing lying tricep extensions, placing the band around a fixed point. You can also place the band over a closed door and perform the equivalent of cable press downs or simply stand on the band of perform overhead tricep extensions.