How do I choose an elastic band for my workout?
The most popular types of elastic bands for training are resistance bands, mini-bands, and straps. Whichever type you choose, most can be adapted to your specific needs. If you want to do an exercise with a mini-band but you don’t have one readily available, you can tightly tie a strap and use it as a substitute.
The most important factor when choosing an elastic band is selecting an appropriate resistance level. It should be challenging, but you should still be able to use the correct technique when doing the exercise. If you find it difficult to maintain proper posture and engage your abdominals during your workout, you should opt for a band with lighter resistance.
Body-shaping exercises with elastic bands
1. Push-ups with elastic band (for beginners and advanced trainees alike)
Push-ups can be performed with mini-bands or large resistance bands.
Version with mini-band: put the elastic band on your shoulders, slightly above the elbows. Get down into a push-up position and perform a push-up. In the lower phase of the exercise, the mini-band should be on your chest, helping you to complete the push-up. This version of the exercise is suitable for those who are unable to do a regular push-up.
Version with large resistance band: cross the elastic band to create a figure 8 shape and put it on your back like a backpack (or the most popular posture correctors). Put the ends of the elastic band on your hands, get into position and do a push-up. This version of the exercise is great for those who regard regular push-ups with body weight alone as too easy. A resistance band placed in this way will provide an additional challenge for the muscles.
2. Band pulling in side plank
This exercise can be performed with any type of elastic band. Attach one end to a stable structure, for example a wall bar, and hold the other end in your left hand. Perform a right-side plank with the resistance band in front of you. Keep your whole body in one line, resting on your right elbow or, to make the exercise more difficult, on your right hand. Keep your left arm extended perpendicularly to the body. Pull the left arm towards you by bending your elbow and tightening your left shoulder blade. Your left hand should be at chest level. Then straighten your arm and return to the starting position.
3. Rowing in forward bend
To do this exercise, you need a large resistance band or strap. Stand in the middle of the band with your feet at hip width. Flex your knees, bend your torso at an angle of 45 degrees and grasp the ends of the elastic bands in your hands (your arms should be perpendicular to the floor, with the band on the outside of your legs). Keeping your back straight, bend your arms at the elbows and move your hands to your abdomen, while pulling your shoulder blades together, then lower and extend your arms.
4. Band pulling along the body
To do this exercise, you need a large resistance band. Grab the band with an overhand grip, maintaining a shoulder-width distance, and place your feet on the opposite end. Tighten your abdominals and glutes. Move your hands up along your body from the hips towards your chest, with the elbows pointing upwards. In the ending position, keep your elbows at head level and your hands at the collarbone. Lower your arms slowly along your body, controlling the motion at all times.
5. (Stiff-leg) deadlift
To do this exercise, you need a large resistance band or strap. Stand in the middle of the band with your feet at hip width. Grasp the ends of the elastic bands in your hands (with the band on the outside of your legs). From an upright position, bend forward with your back straight and legs bent so that your hands are at mid-calf length. Then straighten up to the starting position.
You can also do a deadlift with an elastic band in a version with straight legs to engage the glutes and the back of the thighs more.
6. French press / forearm flexion
With a large resistance band you can also exercise your arms, targeting both your triceps and biceps.
Triceps – French press – stand with your right foot half a step in front of your left foot. Step on the middle of the band with your left foot. Then, while keeping your elbows close to your ears, grab the other end of the band with both hands behind your back. Your arms should be bent behind your head, and your hands holding the band should be at the level of your shoulder blades. In this position, straighten your arms at the elbows until your hands are directly over your head. You can also do this exercise with one hand.
Biceps – forearm flexion – grab the band with an underhand grip, maintaining a shoulder-width distance, and place your feet on the opposite end. Bend your elbows so that your hands are at chest level, then straighten them back, returning to the starting position. You can also do this exercise with one hand.
7. Squat with overhead press (thruster)
To do this exercise, you need a large resistance band or strap. Place your feet in the middle of the band, hip-width apart or slightly wider to do a squat comfortably. Grab the opposite end of the band with an overhand grip and bend your elbows so that your hands are at your shoulders. Once in this position, do a squat. As you stand up, straighten your arms and stretch the band over your head. Bring your hands back to shoulder level and then do another squat.
8. Bulgarian split squats
To do this exercise, you need a large resistance band. Stand in a wide split stance with your right foot in front. Step onto your band with your right foot. Place your left foot on the floor or, if you perform Bulgarian split squats, on an elevation. Grab the opposite end of the band with an overhand grip, maintaining a shoulder-width distance. Bend your elbows, position your hands at shoulder height and keep them there throughout the exercise. Squat down by bending at the knees and then return to the starting position.
You can use resistance bands for most exercises performed with dumbbells or barbells. Alternatively, you can add bands to the exercises in which you use free weights to provide an extra stimulus for your muscles during the workout.
Whichever option you choose, remember to warm up properly before exercising. For a sample warm-up routine prepared by a personal trainer, click HERE.