Rock out with the band! Resistance band exercises are a great addition to any strength training routine or rehabilitation program. Resistance bands come in a variety of sizes, lengths, and strengths. This portable exercise equipment is also easily stored, making it perfect for home use, hotel workouts, or when you’re tight on space at the gym.
Just like free weights, exercise bands come in a range of resistance levels, from highly stretchable to heavy-duty strength. The most common types of bands include tube bands with handles, loop bands (aka giant rubber bands), and therapy bands. (When in doubt, a fitness professional can help determine which band is right for you, depending on your fitness level and specific workout plan). For most exercises, try aiming for 8-25 reps for 2-3 sets per exercise.
Resistance Band Exercises
1. Front Squat
Squat like you mean it. Stand on a tube band with the feet slightly wider than your shoulders and center of the band between the feet. Holding a handle in each hand, bring the top of the band over each shoulder, securing the band in place by crossing your arms at your chest. Sit straight down, chest up, abs firm, pressing your knees out over your toes. Rise back up to start position and repeat for 8-12 reps.
2. Leg Extension
Kick it up a notch with this quad-builder. Anchor the loop band in a low position on a support, looping the other end around your ankle with the band positioned behind you. Step away from the anchor to create tension on the band, and position feet hip-width apart. Shift your weight to the left foot, and lift the right leg from the floor. Extend the knee until it straightens out in front of you. Slowly return your leg to starting position and repeat for 8-12 reps before switching legs.
3. Prone (Lying) Leg Curl
Lie belly down and loop a band around your right ankle, anchoring the other end to a door or support. Scoot way from the anchor to create tension. Tighten your core and bend your leg at the knee, bringing your heel toward your glutes as far as you can comfortably go. Slowly return your leg to starting position and repeat for10-15 reps, then switch sides.
4. Standing Adductor
Anchor your loop band at ankle height to a support and stand with your left side facing the support, wrapping the free end around your right (outer) ankle. Stand perpendicular to the band and step away from the support to create some tension (the good kind, of course). From a wide stance, get into a quarter squat or an athletic stance, and then sweep your working ankle across your body past your standing leg, squeezing your thighs together. Slowly return to starting position and repeat for 12-15 reps before switching sides.
5. Supinated Clamshell
Feeling a bit clammy? Loop a band around your legs just above your knees. Lie on your back with hips and knees flexed to 90 degrees. Pull the knees apart while contracting your glutes for 2-3 seconds. Slowly return to starting position and repeat, aiming for 10-12 total reps.
6. Plantar Flexion (Ankle Flexion)
Take a load off for this one. Secure a loop or therapy band around an anchor (like the leg of a coffee table or chair), and sit with one leg straight out, wrapping the other end of the loop around the top of your foot. Lean back, supporting your weight on your hands, and flex your foot forward until you feel a good stretch in your shin. In a controlled movement, bring your toes back up, flexing them toward your knee as far as comfortable. Slowly return to starting position and go for 10-12 reps on each side.
7. Standing Abduction
This one’s a bit of a balancing act. Anchor your loop band at ankle height, and stand with your left side toward the anchor. Attach the free end to your outside ankle and step out to create tension on the band. Move your supporting leg back so your foot is elevated from the floor, lift your working leg up, slowly bringing your looped foot out to the side, contracting your outer glutes. If you feel wobbly, grab a support (like the wall or the back of a chair). Lower back down to starting position and repeat for 15-20 reps on each side.
8. Glute Bridge
Salute those glutes! Tie a band around your legs right above your knees. Lie on your back with your feet on the floor, bending your knees to 90 degrees. Rise up with your hips until your shoulders, hips and knees align, contracting your glutes through the entire movement. Slowly lower down and bridge back up for 15-20 bridges.
9. Seated Abduction
To really show those thighs who’s boss, sit at the edge of a chair or bench and tie a loop band around both legs, just above the knees. Place your feet slightly wider than your shoulders. Slowly press your knees out, turning your feet in as your legs move apart. Hold for two seconds, and then bring your knees back together. Aim for 15-20 reps.
10. Lateral Band Walk
Don’t sidestep these side steps! Step into a loop band or tie a therapy band around the lower legs, just above both ankles. Place your feet shoulder-width apart to create tension on the band. From a half-squat position, shift your weight to the left side, stepping sideways with the right leg. Move the standing leg slightly in, but keep the band taught. Continue in this walking fashion, repeating for 8-10 steps before heading back the other way.