Carrying resistance bands with you when you travel is much more convenient than lugging dumbbells along. They’re easy to store if you have a home gym, and they come in different shapes and sizes if you need more or less resistance.
THE CASE FOR RESISTANCE BANDS
Bands can be just as effective as dumbbells and kettlebells in certain exercises, according to a 2017 study published in the European Journal of Sport Science. In the study, researchers tested the lateral pulldown and row for back muscles. They also tested the stiff-legged deadlift and squat for the legs.
The results showed bands were just as difficult for the back muscles as free weights. The stiff-legged deadlift was close, but the squats weren’t as challenging with bands. That’s because bands have more resistance as they stretch.
THE CASE FOR MULTI-JOINT EXERCISES
When you’re pressed for time, remove the exercises from your workout that aren’t as effective and focus on moves providing a lot of bang for your buck. That means you should opt for multi-joint exercises over single-joint exercises.
An example of a multi-joint exercise is a squat, where you’re using muscles in the leg, hip and upper body. The bicep curl is an example of a single-joint exercise, where you’re only moving one joint. A 2017 study published in Frontiers in Physiology found multi-joint exercises were better at improving strength and aerobic fitness than single-joint exercises.
YOUR 7-MINUTE TOTAL-BODY RESISTANCE BAND WORKOUT
In this circuit, there are five multi-joint exercises. You’ll do each exercise for 10 repetitions, then repeat the circuit as many times as possible in seven minutes.
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Band Bent-Over Row
This exercise is for your back muscles. It involves a relatively short range of motion, so you can probably use a thick band with greater resistance.
The move: Put your band on the ground, stretched out horizontally. Stand on the middle of the band with one foot. Wrap the band once around your forefoot. Pick up the handles and check to make sure the band is equal in length on both sides. Lean over, stick your butt back, and bend your knees. Stagger your feet so your front foot is stepping on the band, and your rear foot is supporting you.
Pull the handles up until your thumbs touch your ribs, then reach back down. Pinch your shoulder blades back as you pull up. Only your arms should move; try not to stand up at all during the exercise.
Band Squat to Overhead Press
This exercise requires a large range of motion, so use a lighter band. It will stretch very far as you move through the exercise. With the squat to overhead press, you’re working the leg and shoulder muscles.
The move: Stand on the middle of the band and grab the handles. Stand all the way up and make sure the band is even on either side. Then, bring the handles up and rest them on your shoulders. This is the start position.
Squat as low as you can, keeping the handles on your shoulders. Then, stand all the way up and press the handles overhead until your arms are straight. Bring the handles back down to your shoulders to complete one rep.
If you need a little extra resistance on your pushups, this is an excellent exercise. However, you might feel it’s too difficult to add weight. If that’s the case, try this exercise from your knees. If that’s still too much, ditch the band for this exercise and just work on the pushups.
The move: Start by grabbing the band at either end, right in front of the handles. Reach behind yourself and put the band over your upper back. Get down on the ground in a pushup position with the band under your palms. Perform a regular pushup, going down as low as you can to the ground, then pressing back up until your elbows are straight.
Band Romanian Deadlift
This multi-joint movement works your hamstrings, glutes and lower back muscles. It’s like a deadlift, but it requires a smaller range of motion. Since you’re using large muscles for this exercise, grab the thickest band you have with the most resistance.
The move: Stand on the middle of the band and grab the handles. Make sure they’re at an even length. Keep your arms down by your sides with your elbows straight. Stick your butt back, keep your back flat and lean over. Keep going until you feel a stretch in your hamstrings, then stand back up. Make sure your knees don’t bend forward during the movement.
Band Trunk Rotations
For this exercise, you’ll need a secure place to attach your resistance band. It should be about shoulder-height. Use a medium-to-light resistance band.
The move: Tie one handle around the secure object and hold the other handle in both hands. Step away and face perpendicular to the band. Hold your arms out straight so your elbows are locked. Plant your feet far apart with your knees locked.
Rotate away from the object as far as you can, using your abdominal muscles to turn your trunk. Think about twisting your rib cage, not just your shoulders. For this exercise, you’ll complete 10 repetitions on each side.