How to Use Resistance Bands: A Complete Guide for Beginners

Learn how to use resistance bands in your workouts.

If you have seen them around but always wondered “How do I use resistance bands?”, you’re at the right place.

Chances are, you’ve already seen these colorful, bendy rubber straps everywhere – from your favorite fitness influencer’s YouTube videos to your Instagram feed, and even in your local gyms. 

And there’s a good reason why. Because resistance bands are undoubtedly one of the most effective, low-cost, and high-impact pieces of home gym tools. 

Once you’ve mastered how to include them within your training, they add endless possibilities to basic bodyweight motions like squats and push-ups and open up a new world of varied movements.  

So, consider this your induction guide to the humble world of stretchy, elastic bands. It’s time to (finally) learn how to use resistance bands during your workout to build muscle on the cheap, wherever you’re getting your session in. 

What are resistance bands?

Unless you’ve been living under a rock (or been in quarantine for far too long), you probably have a rough idea of what resistance bands are. And what they look like.

But essentially, resistance bands are thick, colorful elastic bands that come in a variety of shapes, thicknesses, sizes, and attachments. These variations typically depend on the brand and company you choose to get them from.

In general, though, the thicker the resistance band, the more resistance it provides. 

Just so you know, the color of the band is also a great indicator. In general, the darker its color, the more resistance it provides. For most brands, you’ll find that yellow and orange are the lightest, with blue and red in the middle, and green, purple, and black the strongest.

Summary:

Resistance bands are thick, colorful elastic bands that offer varying amounts of resistance based on their thickness. 

Types of resistance bands

Here’s where resistance bands get a little tricky. If you’ve ever gone on to Amazon, looking for a new resistance band to add to your home gym collection, you’ll find a dizzying array of resistance bands. 

It’s not just about the thickness or colors of the bands anymore. 

Instead, you’ll find all sorts of different shapes and attachments. Some are closed loops, some are open, and then there are those with handles on them. Let’s clear the air of confusion once and for all. 

Here’s your introduction to the different types of resistance bands available in the market. And, more importantly, what they’re used for. 

Tube bands with handles

Tube bands with handles provide pulley handles for an easier grip.

Also known as ‘handled bands,’ these look like jump ropes made of cylindrical rubber. And as implied by its name, you’ll find heavy-duty pulley handles – typically made of nylon or plastic – for a secure grip on each end. 

Because you’re able to get a firm grip with tube bands with handles (why else would they have handles?), they’re best used for exercises like shoulder presses and bicep curls. 

Oh, by the way – just thought I’d share a cool thing you can do with tube bands. You can actually attach two of them to the same anchor and handle to increase the amount of resistance. Psst: there’s also nothing stopping you from adding a third, either.

And that means these are a great option to help increase your strength. This is especially so if you’re limited to light or no weights wherever you’re getting your session in. 

Large loop bands

Large loop bands are the most common options in gyms and stores as they're affordable.

Large loop bands – well, I think the name pretty much explains all you need to know. 

These form a large closed-loop and are usually about 40 inches long. They’re typically thin and flat, which is why they’re sometimes called ‘flat and thin bands.’

And as you’ve probably figured out, these are best used for providing assistance when you’re still figuring out how to do your first pull-up.

What you’d do is loop the band over a pull-up bar or a secure doorway and step on it with one foot. Then, you’d be able to perform pull-ups as usual (it’ll become easier.) 

That’s not to say that large loop bands are only good for assisted pull-ups. 

Instead, you can also step on them to give yourself resistance doing exercises like squats, overhead presses, bicep curls, lateral raises, and even good mornings. We’ll cover the wide variety of exercises you can do in just a bit. The main takeaway? They’re incredibly versatile.

Mini bands

Mini bands are very popular for lower body exercises.

I think you’ve already got a few of these stashed away if you’re all about that #bootylife. 

These are pretty much the same as large loop bands, just a lot smaller. And similar to their larger counterparts, mini bands come in a variety of thicknesses (aka resistance) and can be used in countless exercises for an insane workout. 

They are most popularly associated with glute exercises. And if I got your attention on glutes, here’s a guide on building a bigger butt (through exercise, of course) you want to check out.

Just so you know, you shouldn’t limit mini bands usage to around your thighs or ankles to grow that booty of yours. 

Instead, you can also put them around your wrists and upper arms for an upper-body workout. Trust me – it’ll burn like never before. 

Also, it’s worth mentioning that mini bands typically come in two different types of material: latex and fabric. While fabric bands may lose their elasticity quicker than latex bands and tend to cost a little more, they are a lot more comfortable for use on bare skin. They also provide higher tension.

Another plus point of fabric mini bands worthy of mention is that they don’t scrunch up – something you’d experience with rubber mini bands.

Trust me: it can get pretty annoying having to re-adjust the band every 3 reps!

Figure-eight bands

The figure-eight variants are less popular, possibly due to their bulk and higher price tags.

I wouldn’t be surprised if you haven’t heard of figure-eight bands before. They are pretty obscure, and I honestly haven’t seen anyone use them before. 

Regardless, figure-eight bands feature a closed-loop design with two handles (typically made of nylon or plastic) and tend to be smaller than other types of bands. That said, figure-eight bands do come in a variety of sizes.

You can use these in pretty much the same way you would with a large loop band or mini-band, depending on the size you go with. 

That said, I’d have to say that the figure-eight band has an advantage over either of the two options mentioned above. Because of its design, it’s able to give you more leverage during exercises like the glute kickback. 

The middle portion of the band also helps keep your feet from falling out of the loop. 

Pilates band

Pilates bands are much thinner than other types of bands, but are equally useful.

Pilates bands are made of the same material as large loop bands, but don’t form a loop and are a lot thinner. That means they’re generally ‘light’ on the resistance offered.

These bands are also commonly used in physical therapy for mobility (e.g. shoulder rehabilitation) (1, 2).

If you’re looking for a versatile, low-impact exercise tool, you’ve found it. 

For me, I like using pilates bands to warm-up (my rotator cuffs, in particular) before jumping into my workouts. They provide a suitable amount of tension and are, in my opinion, easier to set up than large loop bands.

Weakness in your rotator cuff muscles (which is especially common amongst women) can lead to a higher risk of shoulder injuries (3, 4, 5). Injuries like impingement and tears, for example. Nothing you would want to be acquainted with. Your rotator cuffs would definitely benefit from having these bands around.

Summary:

There are 5 main types of resistance bands: tube bands with handles, large loop bands, figure-eight bands, mini bands, and pilates band suited for different purposes. Be sure to choose one that suits your exercise needs. 

What are the benefits of resistance bands?

You must have gotten a rough idea of the various benefits using resistance bands during your workouts can give you: flexibility, variety, and convenience. 

But the truth is that resistance bands offer so many more benefits than that. Let me dive into that real quick.

#1: Delivers progressive resistance 

One of the great things I personally love about resistance bands is that the more they lengthen, the more resistance it provides. And this is a dynamic that just doesn’t happen with weights (i.e. with dumbbells).

Think back to the last time you did a bicep curl with a barbell or dumbbell.

Chances are, you’d have felt the loss in tension on your biceps the moment your biceps are fully contracted at the end of the rep. 

This doesn’t happen if you use resistance bands.

Instead, as mentioned earlier, the more you stretch the band, the more intense the resistance gets – and the harder the movement becomes. 

The increasing tension from stretching a band adds progressively more tension over the course of each rep.

So, you’ll find that your biceps will still be fully engaged even when they’re fully contracted at the end of each rep. 

And that, in turn, leads to a more challenging workout – especially if you’re trying to make a home workout more effective with just light weights and resistance bands.

If you’re interested, check out these tips for more effective home workout routines.

#2: Allows for easier targeting of muscle groups

As you know, when it comes to resistance training, you’ll need to change the placement of load on the body to target specific muscle groups. 

Let’s say you’d like to target the back. 

If you’re using free weights, you’ll need to move your body into a horizontal position because, well, dumbbells are gravity-dependent. You can’t possibly stand upright and expect to hit your lats, for example. 

And this is where resistance bands shine. The resistance they provide is not dependent on gravity (6).  

For example, you can anchor the resistance band around a pole and be able to target your mid-back with a seated cable row-like movement. Basically, you can achieve a different line of pull and target the same muscle groups without changing your body position.

#3: Provides assistance, in addition to resistance

Even though resistance bands are termed as such (‘resistance’), they don’t only provide resistance. 

Instead, they can also assist your progress with difficult exercises. One good example would be pull-ups, which I’ve mentioned earlier. This means you’re able to perform more reps and sets than otherwise possible, helping to increase your training volume.

Recently, I’ve also found looping a resistance band over a pull-up bar to be a life-saver when I’m perfecting the pistol squat. Trust me – you’ll hold on to it as if your life depended on it. 

#4: Great for stretching purposes

If you’ve ever experienced tightness in the back or shoulders, you need to get yourself a resistance band (more specifically, a pilates band) ASAP. These bands are extremely helpful when it comes to providing upper body pain relief through easy stretching moves.

Bands are great for stretching and working on mobility.

What I love to do before all my exercises is to use a pilates band to warm up my shoulders and back. 

Doing so helps prime them to stabilize the shoulder joint for the main workout.

So, what I’d do is hold the band in front of my chest (parallel to the ground) and slowly pull the band apart. If you’re going to try this out for your warm-up, make sure you retract (i.e. pull back) your shoulder blades throughout the movement. 

#5: Suitable for people of all fitness levels

Because resistance bands come in a variety of ‘weights,’ they’re able to challenge your muscles regardless of your fitness level (7). Used to working out with heavier weights? Get the dark-colored bands. Just getting started on your fitness journey? Get the lighter ones. 

And best of all, resistance bands tend to come in a pack with various resistance levels. 

So, any time you get stronger, you can simply switch out what you’ve been using for a more challenging one. There’s no need to get a brand new set of equipment. 

Speaking of which, leads to the next benefit of resistance bands. 

#6: Affordable

In my opinion, this is the biggest benefit resistance bands offer. Affordability.

Take a look at any major sports retailer, or on Amazon, and you’ll find that they are relatively inexpensive. You can easily get a high-quality set of bands for under $30, sometimes even less. 

Contrast that to the price of a dumbbell, and you’ll see what I mean. 

Besides, while resistance bands typically come in a pack of varying resistance, you typically need to buy dumbbells one-by-one. The costs add up pretty fast. Trust me; I’ve done the math.

Summary:

In addition to offering you flexibility, convenience, and variety, resistance bands also provide the following benefits: 

  • Progressive resistance
  • Easier targeting of muscles
  • Provides assistance 
  • Great for stretching purposes
  • Suitable for people of all fitness levels
  • Affordable 

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Resistance bands tips and tricks

I know you’re impatiently stretching your resistance bands right now, wondering when you can get right to sweating with them. 

There are many tips and tricks on performing exercises effectively with them.

Hang on, hang on. 

Before I get right into the different exercises you can do with your resistance bands, here are a few tips and tricks (+ warnings) you need to know to make the most of them.

  • Stop using if you notice cracks or tears – I’m speaking from experience. If you notice any kind of fraying at all, throw the band out. You don’t want to end up with a nasty bruise on your face (like I did) when it snaps on you in the middle of face pulls. Ugh.
  • Add another band for more resistance – Simply use two bands together if you find that you’re getting stronger and need more resistance. 
  • Make sure the door pulls away from you – If you’re anchoring your bands to a door, please, please (please!) make sure that it pulls away from you. You don’t want to force the door open accidentally (because #strongbabe), which could result in injury.
  • Maintain band tension even at the start of the movement – No matter what resistance band exercise you’re doing, you want a little tension at the start of the movement. This helps keep your target muscles engaged during the entire exercise.
  • Don’t anchor your bands to anything sharp or rough – Why? Well, because anchoring your bands to something like a tree branch could wear down your band over time, causing it to snap. And you don’t want that to happen. 

How to use resistance bands in your workout

Alright, so – I guess the remaining question left in this comprehensive resistance bands 101 guide is: ‘How can I use resistance bands during my workouts?’

I’ve got you covered. 

You’ll find a whole list of exercises you can do, from top-to-bottom, that you can do with your resistance bands below. They’re all categorized by muscle groups, so if you’re searching for something in particular, you know what to do. 

Arms

Concentration curl

Targets: Biceps

What to use: Tube bands with handles, figure-eight bands, pilates band

  1. Sit on a bench, stool, or chair with your feet wide.
  2. Place one end of your resistance band under your right foot and hold the other end in your left hand, while resting your left elbow on your left thigh.
  3. You might need to lean forward slightly to get to this starting position. Keep your core engaged and your back straight. 
  4. Make sure the band is already taut, even at the starting point. Now perform a bicep curl by pulling your left hand toward your left shoulder. 

Tip: Keep your shoulders relaxed. Make sure you’re initiating the movement with your biceps, and not any other muscle group!

Standing biceps curl

Targets: Biceps 

What to use: Tube bands with handles, figure-eight bands, pilates band

  1. Stand with your feet shoulder-width apart, with your feet placed over the middle of the band.
  2. Grab a handle (or the end of the bands) in each hand, starting with your arms relaxed, down at your sides.
  3. With palms facing in front of you, perform a bicep curl by bending at the elbow. Make sure you get a good bicep contraction. Keep your core engaged and back straight throughout the movement.

Tip: You don’t want to use momentum to ‘jerk’ the resistance bands up. Instead, concentrate on initiating the curl with your biceps. That’s the muscle group you want to work.

Triceps kickback 

Targets: Triceps

What to use: Tube bands with handles, figure-eight bands, pilates band

  1. Step your right foot forward, loop the resistance band under your right foot, and hold one end of the resistance band in each hand. 
  2. Bend your right knee and hinge forward at the hip. This is basically your lunge position. Remember to keep your core engaged and your back straight. 
  3. Bend your elbows to 90 degrees, hugging your arms close to your sides.
  4. From here, do a triceps kickback by extending your arms from the elbows only, and focus on keeping the rest of your arms still while you perform the movement. 
  5. Re-bend your elbows to return to the starting position.
  6. Do all the reps on one side, then repeat with the other foot (i.e. left one) forward. 

Tip: Other than keeping your upper arms relatively still throughout the movement, you also want to make sure that your back stays flat. You don’t want to round your back. 

Triceps reach

Targets: Triceps

What to use: Tube bands with handles, figure-eight bands, pilates band

  1. Stand with your feet together, and hold one end of the band in your right hand, and hold your right hand at the small of your back, so your elbow is bent. 
  2. Reach behind you to grab the other end of the band with your left hand and hold your left hand at shoulder height in the middle (parallel to your spine).
  3. From here, extend your left arm straight up above your head, stretching the band and using your triceps to complete the movement. 
  4. Re-bend your left arm and return to shoulder height with your hand coming behind your head. 
  5. Do all the reps on one side, then repeat on the other. 

Tip: Keep your core engaged throughout the movement. 

Shoulders

Band pull apart

Targets: Rotator cuffs

What to use: Tube bands with handles, figure-eight bands, pilates band

  1. Stand with your feet hip-width apart and hold one end of your resistance band in each hand.
  2. Raise your arms to chest level with your palms facing down. Keep your arms straight and hands about 6 inches apart. The band should have a small amount of tension – no need for it to be overly taut.
  3. Now, pull the band apart by extending your arms wide to each side, keeping them at the same height. Keep your arms straight throughout the movement.
  4. Return your arms to the center. 

Tip: This is a great warm-up exercise for your rotator cuffs, so make sure you perform the exercise with slow and controlled movements. 

Overhead press

Targets: Shoulders (front delts)

What to use: Tube bands with handles, figure-eight bands, pilates band

  1. Stand with your feet shoulder-width apart with a resistance band looped under each foot.
  2. Hold the band just a little wider than shoulder-width, with your arms bent and palms facing forward.
  3. Press the band directly over your shoulders until your arms are above your head.
  4. Lower your hands to the starting position.

Tip: Do not lock out your elbows at the top of the movement (as with any weighted variants of the exercise). Doing so puts them in a hyperextended state, which can increase the chance of overextending the joints. Thus, setting you up for injuries. 

Forward raise

Targets: Shoulders (front delts)

What to use: Tube bands with handles, figure-eight bands, pilates band

  1. Get your resistance band, loop it under your feet, and hold the ends of it in each hand. Have your arms relaxed and at your sides.
  2. Raise your arms straight in front of you until they’re parallel to the floor and perpendicular to your torso. Your hands should be at shoulder level.
  3. Pause for that contraction at the top, then slowly lower back to the starting position. 

Tip: The key to this exercise is in slow and controlled movements. Make sure you’re really performing the eccentric portion of this exercise (i.e. the lowering) with your shoulders, instead of letting it free-fall. 

Lateral raise

Targets: Shoulders (middle delts)

What to use: Tube bands with handles, figure-eight bands, pilates band

  1. Get your resistance band, loop it under your feet, and hold the ends of it in each hand. Have your arms relaxed and at your sides.
  2. Raise your arms to the side in a 45-degree to your body until they’re at shoulder-height. 
  3. Pause, then slowly lower arms back down to the starting position. 

Tip: Do not straighten your arms at the top of the movement – always maintain a slight bend in the elbows at all times. Fully-extending your elbows puts a lot of strain on your joints, setting you up for injuries. You don’t want that. 

Upright row

Targets: Shoulders (middle delts)

What to use: Tube bands with handles, figure-eight bands, pilates band

  1. Stand on a band with both feet and grab one end with each hand.
  2. Pull the band high by leading the movement with your elbows. 
  3. Slowly lower the resistance band back to the starting position. 

Tip: At the fully contracted position, your elbows shouldn’t be higher than shoulder-height. This can increase the risk of shoulder impingement, which can be very painful. 

Bent-over rear delt fly

Targets: Rear delts

What to use: Tube bands with handles, figure-eight bands, pilates band

  1. Sit at the edge of a bench or chair, positioning your feet over the middle of the band. 
  2. Cross the band at your knees, grabbing the ends of the resistance band with your palms facing each other. 
  3. Bend forward at your waist, with your back straight and raise your arms out to your sides until the band reaches shoulder level.
  4. Slowly lower to the starting position. 

Tip: Do not straighten your arms at the top of the movement – always maintain a slight bend in the elbows at all times. Fully-extending your elbows puts a lot of strain on your joints, which then sets you up for injuries. You don’t want that.

Chest

Banded push-up

Targets: Chest

What to use: Tube bands with handles, figure-eight bands, pilates band

  1. Get in a push-up position, draping the resistance band across your upper back. 
  2. Loop the ends of the band through your thumbs and place your hands on the floor.
  3. Keep your core and quads engaged, then bend your elbows till your chest just about touches the floor. 
  4. Push straight up until you return to your starting position. 

Tip: Remember to keep your quads nice and tight throughout the movement. When your quads are relaxed, your legs bend and lower back tends to sag – and this is something you don’t want for proper form. 

Incline chest press

Targets: Chest (upper chest)

What to use: Tube bands with handles, figure-eight bands, pilates band

  1. Get into a lunge position with your right foot in front. Place the middle of your band beneath your left foot (back foot). Grab the ends of your band in each hand and bring the band to the shoulder-level.
  2. Press the bands upward in a 45-degree angle over your chest until your arms are fully extended. 
  3. Slowly return to the starting position. 

Tip: Pause at the top of every rep to feel the contraction in your upper chest. Make sure you’re not performing the movement with your shoulders! Doing so would turn this exercise into a shoulder press, which is something you don’t want.

Standing chest press

Targets: Chest

What to use: Tube bands with handles, figure-eight bands, pilates band

  1. Anchor your resistance band to something secure and steady (e.g. wall column) at chest height. 
  2. Grab the ends of your resistance band with each of your hands, with your back facing the band.
  3. Step forward to reduce the slack. Position your hands at chest height.
  4. With elbows up and palms facing down, press the band straight out in front of you until your arms reach full extension, and squeeze those chest muscles. 
  5. Return to the starting position. 

Tip: If you find it hard to balance, you can perform the exercise while in a lunge position (i.e. with a foot in front of the other).

Standing chest flyes

Targets: Chest

What to use: Tube bands with handles, figure-eight bands, pilates band

  1. Depending on your preference, you can do a split stance (i.e. one foot in front of the other) or with your feet at hip-width apart.
  2. Wrap your resistance band around your mid-back and across the outside of your arms to your hands. You should be grabbing on to the ends of the band with each of your hands.
  3. Allow your hands to go back as far as you can to get a good stretch in the chest, then contract your chest so that you bring your hands to meet in the center in front of you. Your arms should be slightly bent at the elbows.
  4. Slowly release the tension and return to the starting position. 

Tip: Try to keep your shoulders down and back (i.e. retract your scapula) at all times during the exercise. 

Back

Bent-over row

Targets: Back (lats and rhomboids)

What to use: Tube bands with handles, figure-eight bands, pilates band

  1. Stand over the center of the band with feet shoulder-width apart.
  2. Bend slightly at your knees and hinge at your waist, keeping your hips back. 
  3. Grab the ends of your resistance band with each hand, with your hands facing the outsides of your knees.
  4. Pull the band up toward your hips with your elbows bent. Squeeze your shoulder blades together until your elbows form a 90-degree angle.
  5. Slowly lower back down to the starting position. 

Tip: If you want to target your upper-back muscles, pull the band higher to your chest. On the other hand, if you want to target your mid-back muscles, you should pull the band closer to your waist. 

Seated row

Targets: Back (lats and rhomboids)

What to use: Tube bands with handles, figure-eight bands, pilates band

  1. Sit on the floor with your legs extended in front of you. Place the center of your resistance band behind the soles of your feet.
  2. Grab the ends of your resistance bands in each of your hands, with your arms extended and palms facing each other. 
  3. Sitting nice and tall, bend at your elbows and pull the band toward your core while making sure to squeeze your shoulder blades together. 
  4. Slowly return to the starting position. 

Tip: Don’t let your shoulders hunch over when your arms are extended. Doing so will shift the load from your back to your shoulders, and that defeats the purpose of this exercise. 

Lat pulldown 

Targets: Back (lats)

What to use: Tube bands with handles, figure-eight bands, pilates band

  1. Anchor your resistance band overhead to a horizontal bar (or anything steady, really), pulling the free ends down at your sides. 
  2. Kneel facing the anchor, so the band is positioned in front of you. 
  3. Grip each end of your resistance band with each hand, with your arms extended overhead and hands slightly wider than shoulder-width.
  4. Bending your elbows, pull the band down toward the floor while contracting your back muscles. 
  5. Once your hands reach your shoulders, slowly raise them back to the starting position. 

Tip: Remember to initiate the movement with your lats. One thing I like to think about when performing the banded lat pulldowns is to think that I’m pulling my elbows down till they’re pointing downwards. Try this out, and let me know if this works for you too!

Abs

Kneeling crunch

Targets: Abs

What to use: Tube bands with handles, figure-eight bands, pilates band

  1. Attach your resistance band to a high anchor (i.e. pull-up bar or top of a door) and kneel down, grabbing each side of the band.
  2. Extend your elbows out at shoulder level, engage your core, and crunch down toward your hips while contracting your abs.
  3. Slowly return to the starting position. 

Tip: Round your back on this one; this will help you fully engage your abs instead of your hip flexors. To be precise, they minimize the work your hip flexors are doing and maximize the load your abs are under.

Russian twist

Targets: Abs (obliques)

What to use: Tube bands with handles, figure-eight bands, pilates band

  1. Sit on the floor with your legs extended in front of you, and wrap the center of your resistance band around the bottom of your feet.
  2. Hold the ends of your resistance band in each hand. Slightly bend your knees, keeping feet on the floor, and lean back at a 45-degree angle.
  3. Rotate the band left by bringing your right hand across your body and your left hand down by your left hip. 
  4. Contracting your oblique muscles, bring the band toward your left hip while keeping your middle and low back neutral. 
  5. Return to the starting position.

Tip: Move slowly and remember to breathe (!) while performing this exercise. Don’t disengage your core by leaning back when fatigue sets in.

Woodchopper

Targets: Abs (obliques)

What to use: Tube bands with handles, figure-eight bands, pilates band

  1. Anchor your resistance band near the top of a cable column or support (anything that’s steady, really).
  2. With your right side toward the support, grab the free end of the band with your arms stretched out overhead.
  3. In one smooth motion, pull the band down and across your body to the front of your knees while rotating your right hip and pivoting your back foot.
  4. Slowly return to the starting position. 

Tip: Do not bend your arms excessively while performing the woodchoppers. If you do, your arms will do the work instead of your obliques. Also, make sure you’re rotating your torso, and your arms are staying in front of your body. Don’t just swing the band with your arms.

Reverse crunch

Targets: Abs (lower abs)

What to use: Tube bands with handles, figure-eight bands, pilates band

  1. Anchor your resistance band on low support.
  2. Lie faceup, with your knees bent at a 90-degree. Wrap the band around the tops of both feet and scoot back to create tension. 
  3. With your abs tight and back flat, pull your knees toward your shoulders, making sure to contract your abs. 
  4. Slowly return to the starting position.

Tip: Moving slowly, with controlled movement is key to the reverse crunch. This keeps your abs under tension for a longer period and prevents you from shifting the strain to your lower back, which can happen when you rush your reps.

Knee pull

Targets: Abs (lower abs)

What to use: Tube bands with handles, figure-eight bands, pilates band

  1. Begin the exercise in a push-up position (with your knees off the floor).
  2. Wrap the center of your resistance band around the sole of your right foot and hold one end of the band in each hand. Keep your palms flat.
  3. Keeping abs engaged throughout, pull your right knee toward your chest. Round your back toward the ceiling slightly as if bringing the head to meet the knee. 
  4. Press your right heel back to straighten the leg, then lower foot to the starting position. 
  5. Finish all your reps with one foot before switching sides.

Tip: Try to keep your back as straight as possible throughout the exercise; don’t overly-rotate the hips while driving your knees in. This ensures that your abs stay engaged.

Quads

Front squat

Targets: Quads

What to use: Tube bands with handles, figure-eight bands, pilates band

  1. Stand on your resistance band with feet slightly wider than shoulder-width.
  2. Hold the ends of your resistance bands with each of your hands and bring the top of the band over each shoulder. If your band is too long, secure it in place by crossing your arms at your chest.
  3. Squat with your chest up and abs firm. Push yourself up while making sure that the pressure remains in the center of your feet. 

Tip: Make sure that your knees are tracking in the same direction as your feet. You don’t want them to bunch in at any time of the exercise. Consider looping a mini band around your knees if you have to. 

Lunges

Targets: Quads

What to use: Tube bands with handles, figure-eight bands, pilates band

  1. Place your left foot in front of your right foot (i.e. get into a staggered feet position.)
  2. Step on your resistance band with your right foot.
  3. Grip each end of your resistance bands with each of your hands and raise your hands up to shoulder height. 
  4. With your back straight and chest up, lower your hips straight down until your front thigh is almost parallel to the floor.
  5. Push back up.
  6. Complete all the reps on one side before switching to the other foot.

Tip: Remember to push through your heel. Also, as with any squatting exercises, keep your knees tracking in the same direction your feet are pointing in. 

Lying leg extension

Targets: Quads

What to use: Tube bands with handles, figure-eight bands, pilates band

  1. Lie faceup with both legs extended and your arms bent by your sides. Hold the ends of your resistance bands with each hand.
  2. Bend your right knee into the chest, with your right foot in the center of the band.
  3. Press your elbows into the ground and lift hips off the floor as you extend your right leg out at a 45-degree angle. 
  4. Lower back to the starting position. 

Tip: The key to this exercise is slow and controlled movements. Speeding through the reps means that you’re using momentum, making this exercise less effective. 

Hamstrings

Lying leg curl

Targets: Hamstrings

What to use: Tube bands with handles, figure-eight bands, pilates band

  1. Secure your resistance band to a secure doorway or column. Lie chest-side down on the floor. Loop the resistance band around your ankles (if you prefer, you can also do the 1-legged version.)
  2. Bring your legs toward your glutes by contracting the hamstrings.
  3. Release the tension at a controlled pace and return to the starting position. 

Tip: Make sure you’re initiating the movement with your hamstrings. And the best way for you to do that is to flex your calves (point your toes backward) throughout the movement and prevent your hips from rising (as much as possible).

Banded deadlifts

Targets: Hamstrings

What to use: Tube bands with handles, figure-eight bands, pilates band

  1. Step on the middle of your resistance band with a slightly wider than shoulder-width stance. Hold the ends of your band with each of your hands. 
  2. Bend your knees slightly and drive your hips back. Do not sit back; you should think of this exercise like a Romanian deadlift. 
  3. Forcefully contract your glutes, driving them forward to the starting position. 

Tip: Maintain a flat back as you go through the lowering portion of the exercise. This ensures that you’re engaging the hamstrings and not shifting the load to your lower back excessively. 

Calves

Standing calf raises

Targets: Calves

What to use: Tube bands with handles, figure-eight bands, pilates band

  1. Stand in the middle of your resistance band. Make sure that the length of the band between your feet and arms is equal on both sides. 
  2. Hold the ends of your resistance band with each of your hands and lift your arms toward the side of your head as if you were going to perform an overhead press.
  3. While keeping your hands by your shoulder, stand on your toes. Contract your calves hard when you get to the top of the movement.
  4. After a short pause (1-second), slowly move back down to the starting position. 

Tip: Lift as high as you can onto your toes for maximal muscle contraction. To raise the difficulty of the exercise, consider standing on an elevated platform, so you are able to stretch the calves below horizontal – giving you a greater range of motion. 

Glutes

Glute bridge 

Targets: Glutes

What to use: Tube bands with handles, figure-eight bands, pilates band, mini bands

  1. Wrap a resistance band around your legs right above your knees. Lie faceup with your feet on the floor, with your knees bent 90-degrees.
  2. Raise your hips until your shoulders, hips, and knees are aligned. Make sure you start the movement by contracting your glutes and keeping them squeezed on your way up.
  3. Lower your hips to return to the starting position.

Tip: Focus on initiating the movement with your glutes and nowhere else. This way, you’re really hitting your glutes.

Clamshell

Targets: Glutes

What to use: Tube bands with handles, figure-eight bands, pilates band, mini bands

  1. Loop your resistance band above your knees around both thighs.
  2. Lie on your left side and prop your head with your left hand. Bend both knees and bend at the hip, so your thighs are perpendicular to your hip. 
  3. Keeping your feet together, elevate your feet to hip height while your knees stay touching the floor.
  4. Keep your feet together as you lift your top knee (right knee) toward the ceiling. 
  5. Slowly lower your right knee down to return to your starting position.

Tip: If you find it too challenging to perform the exercise with your feet in the air, leave them on the ground and do the same movement. 

Lateral band walk

Targets: Glutes

What to use: Tube bands with handles, figure-eight bands, pilates band, mini bands

  1. Loop your resistance band around both thighs. 
  2. Stand in a quarter squat position (slightly above parallel), with your feet about hip-width apart and your hands at your chest or on your hips.
  3. Take a step to the right with your right foot, so your feet are wider than hip-width. Follow with your left foot, so your feet are hip-width apart again.
  4. Take three steps to the right, then three back to the left. That’s 1 rep.

Tip: Remember to keep your core engaged, and make sure there’s constant tension in the band. 

Standing glute kickback

Targets: Glutes

What to use: Tube bands with handles, figure-eight bands, pilates band, mini bands

  1. Loop your resistance band around your ankles and stand with your feet hip-width apart and your core engaged.
  2. With your hands at your chest or on your hips, shift all your weight into your left leg and place your right toes on the floor about an inch diagonally behind your left heel. This ensures that you’re starting the exercise with tension in the band.
  3. Squeeze your core and tuck your pelvis under as you kick your right leg back about 6 inches. 
  4. Return your right foot to tap the floor, keeping tension in the band. 
  5. Complete all your reps on one side before switching legs.

Tip: Try not to arch your back excessively during the movement. If you can’t help but arch your lower back, make the movement smaller. The focus should be on contracting your glutes, not reaching as far back as you can.

Fire hydrant 

Targets: Glutes

What to use: Tube bands with handles, figure-eight bands, pilates band, mini bands

  1. Loop your resistance band just above your knees. 
  2. Start in an all-fours position with your hands under your shoulders and knees under your hips. 
  3. Without shifting your hips, lift your left knee out to the side. Keep your core engaged, so your body does not rotate open along with your knee lift. 
  4. Slowly return to your starting position.
  5. Complete all your reps on one side before switching sides.

Tip: Keep your core engaged throughout the movement, so you’re stabilized and not shifting your hips. For maximum time under tension (and, therefore, #bootygains), you also want to keep constant resistance in the band. 

Donkey kick

Targets: Glutes

What to use: Tube bands with handles, figure-eight bands, pilates band, mini bands

  1. Loop a resistance band around the bottom of your right foot and left ankle. Start in an all-fours position with your knees under your hips, wrists under your shoulders, and your core engaged.
  2. Keeping your knee bent and right foot flexed, kick your right leg up toward the ceiling. Hold for 2 seconds at the top.
  3. Return your right knee to the floor.
  4. Do all your reps on one side, then switch sides.

Tip: The harder you contract at the top of the movement, the harder your glutes are working! 

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