Think weight lifting is the only way to build muscle and gain strength? Think again.
Heard it once, heard it a million times: unless you change up your routine, your body won’t be forced to adapt and your results will consequently suffer. But how does someone who’s accustomed to tossing around the steel adjust his/her workouts to continue building muscle and gain strength? Try mixing in resistance band exercises and you may very well begin breaking through the plateaus standing in your way.
Resistance bands offer a unique stress most traditional strength training exercises do not, as they apply progressively more pressure throughout each movement. It’s why many strength coaches love adding resistance bands and chains to compound exercises like squats and bench presses. And while I’m not saying to start out with these complex exercises, I am saying incorporating resistance bands into your training program can create enough body confusion to push your development to the next level.
Additionally, while bands are an incredible tool to use at the gym, they’re also a great way to get workouts in on vacations and road trips. For about $20, you can have a portable gym with you at all times!
Now knowing their virtues, here are 5 of my favorite resistance band exercises. I’d urge you to give them a try over the next few weeks, as you’ll discover the world of difference they can provide.
Banded Barbell Shrug
Grab a heavy resistance band and place one handle on each side of the loaded barbell. Pull the center of the band down so that you can stand in the center, hips width apart. Then grab your barbell and perform the shrug as you normally would. This will quickly become one of your favorite exercises if you’re looking to build muscle in your shoulders and traps. Here, 10-12 reps for 3-4 sets should do the trick.
Resistance Leg Press
Place a resistance band handle around each of the weight racks on a loaded leg press. Depending on your machine, the middle of the band will likely be placed around your seat. Perform the leg press as you normally would and feel the resistance increase as you extend your legs. Again 10-12 reps of 3-4 sets is perfect.
Alternating Lunge and Press
If you’re looking for a great exercise to improve your core strength and balance, incorporate this move. Secure the band around a sturdy object that allows you to have the band at chest height. Standing in a position ready to perform a chest press, step forward with the right leg and punch your left arm straight out. Return to start. Then step forward into a lunge on your right side as you punch forward with the left arm. Repeat until you’ve lunged forward on each leg 10-15 times and repeat until you’ve completed 3-4 sets.
*Trainer Tip: Try these loaded moves with less weight than you would typically do to first get a feeling for it.
A long resistance band or J-Band works best for this move. Stand on the middle of the band with feet hips length apart and cross the band so that it makes an “X” in front of you. Hold the handle at shoulder height so that the wrists face away from the body and the band placement is in front of the wrist. Squat deep holding the band tightly and then explode up while at the same time, lifting your arms above your head to achieve an overhead press. Repeat this move fluidly 15-20 reps for 3-4 sets.
Superband Side Shuffle and Jumps
The Superband is a band that looks like a huge rubber band without handles. Attach the band to a piece of sturdy equipment and step inside the band. The band should be set around your waist. Start with a side shuffle out as far as you can, touch the ground, and shuffle back, but not so far that you lose resistance (2-3 shuffles). Complete 15 touches and repeat on the other side. Then shuffle backwards until you can’t any further and squat, then return to start and complete 15 more reps. Finally, turn to face away from the point of attachment and jump forward as far as you can, landing in squat position, then jump back to start position. Repeat 15 times. Do this for three sets, resting 1 minute in between sets, and your legs will feel like rubber!
These five resistance band exercises, when added to your workout routine, will help you break through stubborn plateaus and greatly improve your strength. Give them a shot, let me know what you think, and remember that variety is an important component to continued progress.
For best results after incorporating these resistance band workouts into your training program, 1R would recommend the following supplements: