Looking for a convenient, economical and efficient way to get in a resistance workout without having to haul yourself to a gym or a class every day? Resistance bands deliver a big bang in a tiny package.
With all the clamor about maintaining muscle mass by making weight training a part of our regular routine after 50, resistance bands are gaining popularity as a quick and portable go-to solution for busy Boomers.
Resistance band training provides full-body benefits with nothing but inexpensive rubber bands or rubber tubing. “Resistance bands are an easy to use, inexpensive, take with you anywhere, everyday exercise equipment,” says Suzi Parmentier, certified personal trainer and post-rehabilitation specialist. “They’re that easy.”
Value & Versatility
The versatility of resistance bands is undeniable. From strength training to stretching exercises, resistance bands bring a variety of intensities and applications to the equation.
Resistance band exercises are also appealing to a variety of people, from experienced athletes looking to shape and define muscles to people who are regaining strength and mobility with supervised physical therapy.
“The beauty of exercise bands is they challenge the body to train multi-directionally against forces in all directions,” says Suzi Parmentier, certified personal trainer, post-rehabilitation specialist and stand-up paddle board instructor.
“Exercise bands provide resistance on the concentric (muscle contraction) and the eccentric (release) movement,” she explains. “Both movements are working equally, and that gives us more comprehensive workout.” Additionally, with resistance bands, you can incorporate rotational movements that engage core abdominal muscles.
There’s truly no piece of fitness equipment more convenient than resistance bands. Lightweight, portable and effective, they leave no excuses for skipping strength training.
My collection of resistance bands hangs inside a closet by day and stows easily in my suitcase for travel.
If you’re anything like me, I detest overcrowded hotel gyms with limited free weights and few options. Just about any resistance band exercise can be done in a hotel room. And if you need a little more jetway, hit the halls outside your door for a few sets of front, back and lateral Monster walks.
“What’s lovely about resistance bands is you can either use them solely or integrate them into your regular strength training, cardio or any other exercises that you do,” Parmentier says. She recommends incorporating one or two days of resistance training with bands into your weekly routine.
With a low-cost entry point, there’s no barrier to the home gym you’ve always dreamed of having. Resistance bands are generally color-coded, with lighter colors providing easier resistance and darker colors providing harder resistance.
“If you’re new to exercise, go for the lighter-colored bands,” Parmentier says. “And for athletes who are in the moderate to advanced category, choose the darker-colored bands.”
Resistance bands are often sold as entire sets – or gyms in a bag – for anywhere from $20 to $50. There’s no better equipment value out there when it comes to portability and convenience.
Add exercise bands to the equation, and you’ll have all the tools you need for a comprehensive resistance training session in the home, as an additive to the gym or while traveling.
“I think of it as forever equipment,” says Parmentier. “Whatever age, and especially for the older population, it’s a great strength-training tool.”
Here’s a quick, full-body workout to get you started.
Standing Back Row
Attach the resistance band securely to a doorknob or other stationary object. Ensure the object can safely support the tension.
Step back to create tension in the band. Standing upright with feet shoulder-width apart, pull the band toward you in a rowing motion while keeping shoulders back. Feel the tension in your lats as you row back and forward, holding elbows close to your sides. This exercise is modified by repositioning the resistance band for a high row or low row.
Lateral Side Steps
This is a great lower-body exercise for working the thighs and glutes. Using a resistance loop or band, place the band just above your ankles. You can also do these with a standard resistance band with handles. Step on the band with feet hip-width apart, cross the handles into opposite hands to create tension and step from side to side.
With feet hip-width apart, knees softened, step laterally to the side and then return, leading with the opposite leg. As an alternative, do these from a squat position. Repeat for the recommend number of reps or for time.
Bicep Curl to Shoulder Press
This compound exercise will work your biceps and shoulders as you pull up and then press up to complete the movement.
Start by stepping on the resistance band with feet hip-width apart. Hold handles at 90 degrees, elbows in, to adjust tension for full range of movement. Perform a bicep curl and transitions smoothly into a shoulder press. Return through the movement to the starting position and repeat for the recommended number of reps and sets.
Standing Abdominal Rotations
This exercise is excellent for targeting the obliques and glute medius. Attach the resistance band securely to a doorknob or other stationary object. Ensure the object can safely support the tension.
With arms straight out in front of you, hold both handles together and rotate your body to one side. Repeat for the recommended number of reps. Switch sides and repeat.