5 Amazingly Effective Resistance Band Exercises

By K. Aleisha Fetters |

Strengthen your arms, hips, legs, and core with a workout you can do standing or sitting.

5 Amazingly Effective Resistance Band Exercises

If you haven’t taken advantage of a resistance band for strength training, you’re going to want to get your hands on one fast.

The beauty of bands is their versatility, says Keith David, C.P.T., a personal trainer in Hoboken, New Jersey. Resistance bands allow you to train almost every muscle group in your body—arms, hips, legs—through a vast array of movements.

Plus, David adds, your core muscles get an extra blast by working hard to keep you stable during each exercise.

The versatility doesn’t end there. Bands are great for both standing and seated exercises. And you’ll find them at most gyms, in many SilverSneakers classes, or online for less than $10. If you buy one, you can keep it at home or take it with you on trips so you can sneak in a workout almost anytime, anywhere.

Convinced? Grab a band, and try these amazingly effective exercises.

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How to Use This Workout

Grab a tubed band with handles or a flat band without handles for this total-body resistance band workout. After warming up, perform each exercise as directed, and rest for 30 to 90 seconds between moves. Do a total of two to three sets.

Want to make an exercise easier? Try the suggested chair version.

As always, safety is key. The exercises here may be different or more advanced than those you’ll experience in a SilverSneakers class. If you have a chronic condition (including osteoporosis), an injury, or balance issues, talk to your doctor about how you can exercise safely.

Band Exercise #1: Side Step

This move is a lower-body wonder that helps prevent and fix pain. It’s one of the best exercises for your knees—and also one of the best exercises for your hips.

Do 5 reps

How to do it: Loop a resistance band above your knees. Bend knees slightly with your feet hip-width apart.

Step to the side until the band provides resistance, then slide your other foot over to re-create your original stance. Repeat this sidestepping movement for three big steps in one direction, and then three big steps in the opposite direction. That’s one rep. Do five reps.

Chair version: Work the side movement of your hips and legs with the seated band abduction.

Band Exercise #2: Leg Curl

Want to help your knees bend and straighten more easily? You’ll want to give your hamstrings—the muscles right below your glutes—some attention. You can do that with the seated leg curl machine or this band version.

Do 10 reps

How to do it: Anchor a resistance band from a fixed object at knee level. Sit tall on a bench or sturdy chair a few feet away. Loop the band below your ankles, keeping your legs straight. Engage your core, and hold the bench for support. This is your starting position.

With control, pull your feet toward the bench. Pause, then slowly reverse the movement to return to the starting position. That’s one rep. Do 10 reps.

Band Exercise #3: Pull Apart

The shoulders are especially vulnerable to wear and tear—and thus, pain and injury. Help protect yours with the band pull apart, one of the best exercises for your shoulders. Bonus: It works your chest and back too.

Do 10 reps

How to do it: Stand tall with your feet hip-width apart, arms straight out in front of you, and palms facing down, holding a resistance band with both hands. Your hands should be far enough that the band is taut, but not stretched tight.

With control, squeeze your shoulder blades together to pull your hands farther apart. Pause, then slowly reverse the movement to return to the starting position. That’s one rep. Do 10 reps.

Chair version: Perform the move while sitting tall in a chair.

Band Exercise #4: Biceps Curl

Whether you do it with a band, gym machine, or set of dumbbells, this move is a staple for arms that look and feel strong.

Do 10 reps

How to do it: Stand on the middle of a resistance band with your feet hip-width apart, holding the band with both hands. Let your arms hang down by your sides so the band is taut, but not stretched tight. This is your starting position.

With control, bend your elbows (not your wrists) to curl both hands to your shoulders. Pause, then slowly reverse the movement to return to the starting position. That’s one rep. Do 10 reps.

Chair version: Perform the move while sitting tall in a chair.

Band Exercise #5: Reverse Chop

This rotational move is a terrific core exercise for seniors that improves stability. Most often, the wood chop is done with a medicine ball or dumbbell, but if that’s too intimidating, you might like this variation.

Do 8 reps per side

How to do it: Anchor a resistance band from a fixed object at knee level. Stand to the right of the anchor point with your feet wider than shoulder-width apart and knees slightly bent. Hold a resistance band in both hands down by your left hip. Engage your core, but don’t hold your breath. This is your starting position.

With control, pull the band diagonally across your body, ending with your hands above your right shoulder. Pause, then slowly reverse the movement to return to the starting position. That’s one rep. Do eight reps per side.

Chair version: Perform the move while sitting tall in a chair.

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