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How to Use Resistance Bands

It's no secret that you can get a killer workout with your bodyweight alone. But sometimes, you just want to add a little resistance. Not everyone has a set of dumbbells at home or has a gym at their disposal, and that's where this classic and crazy-useful piece of exercise equipment comes in: the resistance band.

One of the best parts about these things is that they can go anywhere; toss it in a suitcase to bring it on a trip, stash it in your bedside table for a quickie morning burn, or tote it along in your gym bag to sneak in some extra moves if your gym is missing one. They're usually color coded based on how much resistance they have (darker usually means harder). You can exhaust a whole list of exercises with just your body alone—but if you have a doorknob, wall, or pole you can tie it to, your exercise repertoire just doubled.

Ready to get to it? Follow along with this abs and butt resistance band workout video, or try some of the moves below. (Don't have one yet? Check out these affordable resistance band options.)


Opposition Jacks

A. Stand with feet together holding onto both ends of a folded resistance band. Extend arms out to sides, pulling ends of band as far apart as possible, drawing band in towards chest, and squeezing shoulder blades together.​
B. Quickly jump feet apart and bring arms together in front of chest, shoulder-width apart (arms stay at shoulder height). 

Resisted Boxer

A. Anchor band securely (to a doorknob, wall, or pole) and stand facing away from it, holding the handles or ends of band with elbows bent by sides. Step right foot forward and extend left arm out in front of chest (as if punching forward), palms down.​
B. Quickly switch legs and punch right arm forward. Continue alternating as quickly as possible. Add more resistance by standing further away from the anchor point, or lessen the intensity by standing closer to it.

Squat Hops and Press Backs

A. Stand with feet hip width, facing anchor, holding the handles with arms extended down by sides. Lower into a deep squat, pressing arms back by hips, palms facing backwards.​
B. Quickly jump up, reaching arms in front of chest. Land in squat position, pressing arms back. 

(Add these other cardio resistance band exercises for a full workout.)


Resistance Band Deadlift

A. With band tied in a loop, stand on band with feet hip width, holding onto other side of loop with both hands. Bend knees slightly, hinge forward from hips until chest is almost parallel to the floor, keeping back naturally straight and abs in tight. You should feel a slight stretch in your hamstrings.​
B. Maintaining straight spine, engage your glutes to bring body back to start position. 

(Like that burn in your glutes? Next up, try these other resistance band booty-builders.)

Squat with Single-Arm Arnold Press

A. Stand on band with feet hip-width apart, holding end in left hand with elbow bent and palm facing front of left shoulder. Keeping core engaged, hinge hips and bend knees, lowering into a squat position.​
B. Extend legs while simultaneously performing a single-arm Arnold press, rotating palm to face forward as left arm extends overhead. Reverse the movement and repeat. Do 10 to 12 reps on left side before switching sides and repeating.

(This move hits almost your whole body; try these other total-body resistance band moves to tone all over.) 
Resistance Row

A. Stand in the center of the resistance band, and cross the ends to create an X. Hinge upper body forward from the hips and grab either end of the band or handle.​
B. Hands start low and together, then pull elbows out and back, squeezing shoulder blades together. Bring arms slowly back to starting position. (Standing will work more of the shoulder (and traps), while bending forward will allow the work to focus more on your lats—the largest back muscle.)

(You should feel this one in your back! Do it as part of our 30-day back challenge and your rear view will be sexier than ever.)


Lauren Mazzo

Lauren Mazzo is a digital assistant editor for Shape and Fitness. She's an Ithaca College alumna, a Rochester, NY, native and an NYC transplant.  More →

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