Resistance bands weigh next to nothing, don't cost a lot and can target everything from bum to guns. Here’s how and why a resistance band ups the ante on your workout
It may look like a glorified rubber band but the humble resistance band can add as much power to your workout as a dumbbell/ double espresso combination. Sure, it appears unassuming, but the fact that the likes of Rosie Huntington-Whiteley and Jennifer Lawrence rely on a resistance band or three to improve strength, flexibility, tone, technique and general fitness levels proves that a session with a stretchy band can reap serious rewards, plus you can take a band anywhere in a way that you most definitely can’t with a barbell.
Whether you want to perfect your squat, sculpt your arms or get your thighs burning, you can turn your resistance band to almost any body part to speed up your fitness progress safely and without shelling out for expensive gym equipment. Wondering exactly what to do with that floppy band in front of you? Doesn’t look too powerful right now does it? Celebrity trainer Dalton Wong explains how to use a resistance band on each body part.
Resistance band glute exercise
"Placing the band around the ankles or knees when moving side-to-side can help you to target the glute muscles for maximum effect. Simple, but difficult at the same time.
"Place the band around your knees and move your knees in and out. Here, you can use your glutes to help to stabilise the back and tone your bum," says Wong.
Resistance band exercises for abs
"Single leg or double leg raises with a band around your ankles are surprisingly challenging," says Dalton. "By using the band it adds more resistance to the core: you hold your tummy while your feet are moving."
Resistance band exercises for arms
"Place the bands around the ankles and perform a push-up," says Dalton. "In this move, the triceps have to stabilise the body with the bands, and the tension engages the arm muscles."
Different types of resistance bands
You might have seen a variety of different types of resistance bands, especially if you've been watching online resistance band workouts. Harry Grosvenor , personal trainer and head coach at Virgin Active Mansion House, explains the difference between them and what each one is best for.
"There are generally three types of resistance bands: short loop, long loop and thera-bands," Harry says. "Their purpose is the same: to apply resistance to a movement, however their usage is different due to their size and shape."
"These are long strips of bands, widely used for the rehabilitation of shoulder and arm injuries. They tend to be quite low resistance but there's no reason why you can't use them for other exercises too. By standing on the middle of the band and holding each end, you can perform a number of upper body exercises such as a bicep curl, a bent over row, an upright row, or a standing tricep extension. Using the same method, you could even do some deadlift variations if the band is thick enough to apply an appropriate load. They are quite thin so are more prone to snapping than other bands, though."
Short loop bands are the ones you most commonly see fitness influencers using. "They're designed to be looped around your legs or arms and are primarily used for applying resistance," explains Harry. The increased resistance makes moves such as squats, fire hydrants and leg raises that little bit harder.
"The long-loop band is by far the most versatile band," says Harry. "They can be used in so many different ways, including all the ways mentioned above and much more. By doubling up the band you can similarly loop it around your arms or legs and by standing on it you can perform a variety of upper body exercises. You can also anchor one side of the band to your feet and the other over your neck/ shoulders allowing you to perform a number of deadlift and squat variations.
Best resistance bands
For such a basic piece of equipment, there sure are a lot of them on the market. As well as mainstream fitness brands like Gym Shark , many fitness influencers such as Ciara London (you'll see her workouts below - we have a massive girl crush), Made in Chelsea's Louise Thompson have created bands too. Like dumbbells and mini trampolines before them, resistance bands flew off the shelves when home workouts became popular, but here are a few that are still in stock.
Now that you're armed with your bands, here are some of our favourite online resistance band workouts to try at home.