Get stuck into resistance band training with personal trainer Jack Hanrahan’s recommendations for each of your body’s main muscle groups.
If you’ve never considered resistance band training, let this strange set of circumstances be your reason to start. There’s never been a better time to stray outside your comfort zone and embrace something new.
Training with a band involves pulling or pushing against the tension contained within the band when it is stretched, and it’s a form of training that comes with numerous benefits and some important advantages over lifting weights.
In the next issue (August) of Men’s Fitness, you’ll find everything you need to know about band training – from the muscle-building and mobility benefits, to the best bands to buy – but for now, here are six moves to target each of your main muscle groups.
EXERCISE: Band Row
- Loop the band around a sturdy object.
- Grip the band.
- Hinge at the hips and grip the band.
- Drive your elbows back to your side and pinch your shoulder blades together.
- Pause for a split-second.
- Straighten your arms.
EXERCISE: Band Curl
- Loop the band under your feet.
- Grip the other end of the band with hands at shoulder-width.
- Hold the band with arms extended.
- Curl the band up to chest height, squeezing your biceps at the top.
- Lower with control.
EXERCISE: Band Overhead Press
- Take a shoulder-width grip of the band.
- Hold tight with the band in contact with the heels of your hands.
- Throughout the exercise, your elbows should be directly under your hands.
- Press the band overhead and lock your elbows.
- Pull the band back down, keeping your elbows tucked in.
EXERCISE: Band Split Squat
- Start in a half-kneeling position with the band under your front foot.
- Grip the ends of the band.
- Keep your arms straight as you squat down.
- Tap your back knee on the ground, or as close as you can get.
- Drive through your front foot to straighten your leg.
EXERCISE: Band Romanian Deadlift
- Stand on the band with your feet close together.
- Grip the ends of the band.
- Take a deep breath and stand up straight.
- To initiate the movement, reach the hips back, tilting your tailbone up and keeping your lower back flat.
- Push your feet into the floor, drive your hips forward, and squeeze your glutes to transition back to standing.
EXERCISE: Band Squat
- Loop one end of the band around the base of your foot.
- Cross your hip crease with the middle of the band.
- Loop the other end over your shoulders.
- Squat down with control, keeping core braced and shoulders retracted.
- Drive through your heels, raise and tuck your hips.
RULES OF RESISTANCE: Jack Hanrahan’s dos and don’ts of band training
Find the appropriate band; start with a lighter resistance band and only progress when you can perform the exercise through a full range of motion.
Perform at a slow controlled tempo so the band isn’t jerking you around and it doesn’t whip you back.
Anchor the band to something secure, like a fixed park bench or thin tree – not a curtain rail.
Use a strong grip and anchor the band under the middle of your foot.
Don’t use a band that’s old and frayed, because they can snap; they won’t if they’re new.
Maintain a strong grip, using chalk or a training towel if you like.
Don’t go in with a closed mind; bands are not just for rehab – some of the strongest athletes in the world use band exercises all the time.
You will be surprised how much muscle you can build with band training alone – they’re called strength bands for a reason.