Resistance bands are the perfect accessories, as you can use them in lots of different ways – making them perfect for practical use by weightlifters, powerlifters, bodybuilders and gym-goers. They can be used to assist with stretching or even to get a full-body resistance based workout.
You may need to adjust the number of sets and reps, but bands are perfect for functional bodybuilding style workouts. The amount of resistance is determined by the thickness of the band, so it’s best to have access to different sized bands depending on the exercise you want to do.
Chest Exercises with Resistance Bands
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Using bands is a great way to increase the difficulty of a push-up. To set up, loop the band around your back, with your hands through either end like a sling. Perform the push-ups in this position. The further you stretch the band, the greater the resistance will be, but be careful as bands could slip off of the anchor and hit you, resulting in injury. Each band thickness will be equivalent to resistance in kgs.
2. Chest Fly
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This one has a similar set up to the press up, looping the band around your back in a sling fashion. Lie down on the band, and position your hands as if you are clapping. Perform the exercise as a fly by abducting and adducting your arms against the resistance of the band.
3. Cable Fly
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Bands can be set up in most ways that a cable machine can be set up, meaning you have access to the same exercises at home. Anchor the band to a high and secure place and put your hand through the loop. Pull your hand in towards your chest, similar to a unilateral cable fly. Try this for 5 sets of 10, 3 sets of 20, or any other bodybuilding set and rep scheme. Make sure you already have tension on before you move it.
Back Exercises using Resistance Bands
1. Single-Arm Lat Pull-Down
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This exercise is good for your shoulders and the lower portion of your lats. Anchor the band to a secure point above you, loop your hand through and take a knee. Reach above yourself, adding tension to the band, then pull down, keeping your elbow tucked to your side throughout the movement.
2. Double-Arm Lat Pull-Downs
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Keep the band anchored above your head, and perform the exercise as you would a regular lat pulldown in the gym, Pull the band down until it is beneath your chin, then allow your arms to extend all of the way above your head, whilst keeping tension on the band throughout.
3. Back Row
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Anchor the band to something lower to the ground like a weight/dumbbell and loop it around. This exercise mimics the bent-over row. Grab the band with each hand using a normal grip width that you find comfortable, then pull the band towards yourself in a partial squat or seated position, similar to a machine row.
Shoulder Exercises with Resistance Bands
1. Shoulder Press
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For this exercise, it’s all about controlled reps. Healthy shoulder mobility is important, so controlling the movement will minimise the risk of tears or injury. Loop the band under your foot, and hold with one hand, then press above the head until your elbow and shoulder are locked out.
2. Shoulder Shrugs
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Focus on getting a strong contraction in traps by bringing shoulders towards the ear. Put the band in between a wide base at your feet (spread your feet wide apart as you stand on the band). Grab the band with an overhand grip at your upper thigh with tension already on the band. Try to shrug up, and if that’s too easy, stand on both ends of the band, essentially doubling the resistance.
3. Lateral and Front Raise
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Anchor the band to something secure, like a heavy object or your foot. Perform as you would with a dumbbell, elevating the dumbbell to the side and to the front. This exercise is also a great workout for your grip strength when used with a pronated grip on the band.
Arm Exercises using Resistance Bands
1. Bicep Curls
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Place your feet through the loop and try to give a bit of separation between your hands, so it mimics normal supinated dumbbell curls. Loop it around your hands for a hammer curl style. Perform each rep in a slow and controlled manner, squeezing throughout each rep.
2. Triceps Push Down
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Loop the band above your head (i.e. on a beam). Use a natural grip at your hip width, replicating the cable movement, and keeping your elbows static at your side throughout the exercise. Be sure to extend fully at your elbows and squeeze at the end of the range to maximise the contraction.
3. Triceps Kick Forward
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With the band still secured above your head and with your knuckles facing your face (pronated grip), extend your arm forwards by extending at the elbow. This hits the outer portion of the triceps and is great for developing bench strength. The wobble of the bands also helps to improve synergist strength too, which can have a great carry over to the bigger lifts.