Training

Ask a Trainer: What Are The Best Resistance Band Exercises?

"I'm looking for affordable exercise equipment and have come across resistance bands, but I have no idea how I'd use them. What are the best resistance band exercises?"

Most likely you’ve seen someone at the gym waddling back and forth, taking small steps, with a small elastic band around their legs. These are resistance bands and can come in quite handy while traveling, working out at home, or just looking for some new exercises to incorporate into your routine. The advantage of the bands is that they are extremely cheap and lightweight, yet incredibly versatile. While many of these bands will stretch 2.5x their length, the resistance can be greatly increased with further range of motion, catering to all levels of fitness. 

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Some common resistance band exercises are lateral walks and monster walks, where the band is wrapped around both ankles or knees, but there are so many options beyond these basics. Presenting 10 exercises to incorporate into your next strength session.

10 Resistance Band Exercises

In/out squat

In/out squat: With the resistance band around your ankles and starting in an athletic stance (slight squat) you will reach laterally with the right leg while you drop in to a deeper squat.

With the band around your ankles and starting in an athletic stance (slight squat) reach laterally with the right leg while you drop into a deeper squat. Come back to center and then do the same movement with your left leg reaching out, squatting each time. 

Side-plank clamshell

Side-plank clamshell resistance band exercises: With the band just above the knees, start in a side plank position with your knees on the ground while resting on your elbow.

With the band just above the knees, start in a side plank position with your knees on the ground while resting on your elbow. While keeping the body elevated off the ground externally rotate the “top” hip, activating the external rotators of the hip.

Hamstring walk-out

Hamstring walk-out resistance bands exercises: With the band around the ankles, knees bent, and lying on your back- lift the hips up off the ground creating a straight line from your knees to hips to shoulders.

With the band around the ankles, knees bent, and lying on your back, lift the hips up off the ground creating a straight line from your knees to hips to shoulders. While in this position slowly walk out on your heels as far as you can while still being able to walk back in. This will really target the hamstrings as well as the gluteal muscles.

Single-leg squat

While in a single-leg stance position, place the band around the knees. If on the right leg, you will do a mini squat down while reaching the left leg back and left hand out front. Then returning to an upright position and driving the left knee upward. This is providing resistance while mimicking the running motion.

Donkey kick

Get into an all-four position on the ground while the band is around the top of each foot. While staying as still as you can, one leg will kick straight back, locking out and straightening the knee, while resistance increases—firing the hamstrings and gluteals.

Mountain climbers

Staying in the all-four position lift onto your toes with the band around the forefoot. While driving one knee forward, kick the opposite leg back and straight. Continue to alternate legs while holding a stable core position.

Bicycle crunches

Flip over onto your back and place the band around the forefoot area while lifting the legs up into a 90-degree knee bend. As you drive your left knee upward reach your right elbow so they nearly touch. Alternate the right knee up to the left up and touch—all while coming into a “crunch” position.

Plank toe taps

While in a plank position and the band around the ankles, tap one foot out laterally while maintaining stability. After bringing it back to the original position, tap out the opposite foot—continuing to alternate while maintaining a strong and stable core.

Overhead pull-down

Trainer Kyle Herrig shows how to do the overhead pull-down.

Stand upright with the band in one hand and the arm straight up overhead. Reach with the other hand and grab the band, then pulling down toward the shoulder while keeping the elbow out—this will activate the lats of the pulling arm while firing the stabilizing muscles of the “up” arm.

Bent over row

A bent-over row resistance band exercise.

With the knees slightly bent and in a slightly bent over position, place the bands around the wrists and reach out away from the body. While applying outward pressure on the band, pull both hands towards the body in a “rowing” movement, squeezing the shoulder blades together. 

For more exercises and workouts to do at home, check out the online workouts provided daily by Herrig’s functional training studio Triplex Training at triplextraining.com/at-home-workouts.