By Joe Wuebben
One of the best things you can do for your body and health is adopt a consistent resistance-training program. The benefits of this type of exercise are numerous:
Stronger muscles, which will help in any recreational sport you do as well as with everyday activities like lifting objects and playing with your kids or grandkids.
Better weight loss and weight management – believe it or not, resistance-training is a more efficient way to burn body fat than low-intensity cardio like walking or jogging, due to the boost in metabolism that occurs from fatiguing the muscles. Resistance-training will have you burning calories at rest (aka, “afterburn”).
Healthier joints – a well-rounded routine will take all your major joints through full ranges of motion, which will improve function and help prevent injuries.
Better blood sugar management and insulin resistance, which is important for anyone concerned about Type 2 diabetes (a major health crisis in America and globally). Muscle is a “storage tank” for blood sugar, so building more muscle through resistance-training means more glucose can be stored in lean tissue instead of floating around in the blood where it can cause all kinds of health problems.
“Through resistance training, you’re building a bigger tank and a more efficient system to get the sugar or fuel into the tank,” says Jeff Soukup, PhD, Manager of the Intensive Cardiac Rehab program at New Hanover Regional Medical Center in Wilmington, North Carolina. “The point is, you’ve got to be doing resistance training.”
The Perfect Resistance Tool: Elastic Bands
Does the thought of resistance training intimidate you? If so, it’s probably because you’re envisioning heavy barbells and dumbbells and crowded gyms. This doesn’t have to be the case. You can reap all the aforementioned benefits in the comfort of your home with resistance bands.
Banded Benefits: Good for Both Muscles and Joints
Your muscles don’t know the difference between resistance applied from a barbell, dumbbell, machine, or in this case a piece of rubber. In fact, the variable resistance inherent to elastic bands – where the more it stretches, the more resistance it provides – can actually provide a greater challenge to the muscles. All while being easier on the joints than free weights.
“Working out with bands is just as challenging and effective for working the muscles as any free-weight workout,” says Jim Ryno, a personal trainer and owner of Iron House Gym in Alpine, New Jersey (Iron-House.co). “Plus, bands tend to put less stress on the knees, hips, and shoulders, but without taking away any intensity or load placed on the muscles. You can use bands in combination with free weight, cable, or machine exercises, or you can get a great workout using only bands.”
6 Great Resistance Band Exercises to Start Doing Right Away
Bands are effective, joint-friendly, inexpensive, and highly portable (use them at home or take them on vacation). With only a handful of basic movements and as few as two weekly workouts, you can start improving all areas of health and function with resistance bands.
To get you started, here are 6 foundational exercises that are suitable for individuals of all levels, including beginners. Perform these moves 2-3 non-consecutive days per week.
For each exercise:
- Do 2-3 sets of 12-15 reps.
- Rest 1 minute between sets.
- If you’re more advanced, do 4 sets of each exercise.
After your workout, take whichever NutraCollagen product suits your goals and lifestyle. The protein present in NutraCollagen will help the muscles recover and grow stronger.
1) Band Squat
Target Muscles: Legs (glutes, quadriceps, hamstrings) and core.
Setup: Stand on a band with both feet (spaced hip- to shoulder-width) and hold the handles up in front of your shoulders. Make sure there’s tension (no slack) on the band in the standing position; if there’s not, shorten the length of the band by holding the band itself below the handles or wrapping it around your feet.
Movement: Keeping your chest out and back flat, bend your hips and knees to lower down into a squat. When your thighs reach parallel with the floor,drive up through the middle of your feet back to the standing position.
Sets/Reps: Do 2-3 sets of 10-12 reps.
Video Demonstration: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=duP-UZsfOaQ
2) Band Shoulder Press
Target Muscles: Shoulders (middle and front deltoids) and triceps (secondary).
Setup: Stand on the middle of the band so there’s equal length on either side coming up from your feet. Hold the handles and start with your hands in front of your shoulders, elbows bent and palms facing forward.
Movement: With a slight bend in your knees to protect your lower back,extend your arms to press the handles straight up toward the ceiling. Stop just shy of full elbow lockout, then slowly lower back down to the start position.
Video Demonstration: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1ZsxNhKO5Kk
3) Band Kneeling Hip Thrust
Target Muscles: Glutes, hamstrings, and core.
Setup: Anchor the band near floor level – like underneath a door or attached to the bottom of a bedpost. If using a loop-style band, step inside of it and secure it around the front of your waist (facing away from the anchor). If using bands with handles, hold the handles together in front ofyour hips. Kneel on the floor and move forward to create tension on the band.
Movement: Start with your knees bent and butt on your heels, then contracts your glutes to extend your hips until your torso and thighs form a straight line down to the floor. Squeeze the glutes hard at the top.
Video Demonstration: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=siYecTi6-Uo
4) Band One-Arm Row
Target Muscles: Back (upper and middle portions) and biceps (secondary).
Setup: Anchor a band in front you at around midsection height. Grab both handles with one hand and step away from the anchor to create tension. If using a loop-style band (like in the below video), grab the middle of the band in one hand. Start with your working arm extended out in front of you and your non-working hand on your hip.
Movement: With a solid base, knees bent, and torso upright, pull the band to your side by contracting your back muscles (and to a lesser degree your biceps). Keep your elbow in tight throughout and your palm facing inward. Reverse the motion to return to the start position under control. Repeat for reps, then switch sides.
Video Demonstration: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Tz-eIqfB-1Y
5) Band Triceps Pushdown (aka Pressdown)
Target Muscles: Triceps (back of upper arm)
Setup: Anchor a band above head height; this can be done by draping the band over a horizontal bar (pull-up bar, monkey bars, etc) or by using a door anchor at the top of a door. Grab both sides of the band in your hands (not the handles – the band itself), making sure there’s equal length on both sides. Start in a standing position, facing the anchor point, with your elbows at your sides, arms bent around 90 degrees, and palms facing each other.
Movement: Keeping your elbows stationary throughout, contract your triceps to straighten your arms down toward the floor to full elbow extension. Squeeze your triceps hard for a count at the bottom, then slowly return to the start position.
Video Demonstration: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OZQEJp2Zd5U
6) Band Biceps Curl
Target Muscles: Biceps (front of upper arm)
Setup: Stand on the middle of the band so there’s equal length on either side coming up from your feet. Hold the handles in your hands and start with your arms extended down at your sides, palms facing forward.
Movement: Keeping your upper arms stationary and elbows in tight to your sides, contract your biceps to curl your hands up toward your shoulders. At the top, squeeze your biceps hard for a count, then slowly lower back down.
Video Demonstration: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PXLF19Oqe3M
Where to Get Resistance Bands
Resistance bands can be found many places both online and in person. Amazon.com sells sets of 5 bands starting at under $20 (like this set from Renoj). Loop-style bands (without handles) are also available. Both types offer the same level of resistance, though bands with handles are often preferred due to gripping comfort.
Bands can also be purchased in person at Wal-Mart, Target, and sporting goods stores.