Resistance bands, originally developed to rehabilitate older nursing home patients, allow you to build muscle strength and definition from home or on the road. The lightweight and portable bands are a cheaper alternative to dumbbells, weight machines or a gym membership, and you can work nearly any muscle group in your body.
Upper Body Exercises
By standing on the center of your resistance band while holding one handle or end in each hand, you can work your biceps, triceps and shoulders. To perform a biceps curl, start with your hands at your sides and curl the handles up toward your shoulders. To work your triceps, hold both handles behind your head with your elbows bent and extend your arms above your head. Perform a shoulder press by positioning your hands to either side of your head with your elbows bent at a 90 degree angle and your palms facing forward. Slowly extend your arms over your head. Anchor your resistance band to a door frame to perform rows and chest flyes to work your back and chest respectively.
Lower Body Exercises
To work your quadriceps, hamstrings and glutes at the same time, perform resistance band squats. Stand on the center of your band with one handle or end in each hand. With tension in the band, hold the ends of the band next to your shoulders with your palms facing forward. Drop your hips toward the floor, lowering your torso until your thighs are parallel with the floor. As you return to standing, hold your arms steady and use your legs to push up through the resistance of the band. To work your calves, start in the same position, but instead of squatting, raise your torso up onto the balls of your feet as you squeeze your calf muscles.
Making the Most of Your Bands
You'll be able to perform many more exercises with your resistance band with the help of a door frame attachment. The attachment is usually made by attaching a strap with a rubber ball inside to the band. When you close a door over the strap with the ball on one side and the band on the other, you'll secure the band to the door frame so you can use it like a cable tower at the gym. To continue making progress as your fitness improves, look for a set of resistance bands with various tension levels. When an exercise starts to feel too easy, switch to a band with a higher tension.
Resistance Band Safety
Periodically check your resistance bands for signs of wear and tear. Examine them when relaxed and when stretched for cracks or worn connection points with the handles. Look at the color of the bands. If they've become pale, they may be damaged from too much sun exposure. Exercising with the bands should feel smooth and flexible. Some synthetic bands may become stiff over time and should be replaced.
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This article reflects the views of the writer and does not necessarily reflect the views of Jillian Michaels or JillianMichaels.com.