While online fitness classes have found their niche in bringing exercise routines into one’s home, many individuals cannot invest in expensive equipment such as free weights and pull-up bars, nor do they have the space to store such tools.
There is a solution, fortunately, to this dilemma that won’t break the bank or take up precious space in your home. With the inexpensive purchase of a resistance band, it is possible to bring strength training to the safety of your home, backyard, or even on the go.
Resistance bands are usually made of latex or latex-blend material and were created to assist in physical therapy and muscle rehabilitation. Over time, it has found popularity in general fitness and strength training exercises and has become staple equipment for most trainers and fitness buffs. The lightweight material and flexibility is ideal for easy travel and targeting specific muscle groups.
While heavyweights and pull-up bars are commonly used to strengthen the shoulder muscles, resistance bands are also particularly effective in targeting the delts, traps, lats, and rotator cuffs to build up this area of the body well. A strong upper body and shoulders are essential as they help in most fundamental human activities such as reaching and grabbing, lifting, rotating, pushing, and even improving posture.
Here are a few resistance band exercises that can be performed anywhere to help increase your shoulders and upper body’s overall strength.
- Grab your resistance band (like a Victorem Pull-Up Band) and place both feet together on top of the middle of the band.
- Grab both ends and bend slightly forward at the waist.
- Position your neck, shoulders, and upper back in a straight line, making sure not to arch your back.
- With your elbows and knees slightly bent, pull the band up and away from your body, drawing your shoulder blades together. Your arms should be shoulder height.
- Hold this position for several seconds.
- Slowly return your arms back down to the starting position.
- Do 3 sets of 1o reps, increasing the resistance over time as you get stronger.
- Similar to the reverse fly, begin by standing with both feet together on the resistance band’s middle.
- With your back in an upright posture and knees slightly bent, hold both ends of the band shoulder-width apart.
- Pull the band straight upward until your elbows are shoulder height and your upper body is in a “T” shape. Your wrists should be positioned slightly below your elbows at chest height.
- Slowly return your hands to the starting position, making sure not to arch your back.
- Do 3 sets of 10 reps.
- Over time you can increase the resistance by making a wider stance or using a heavier band.
- Stand upright with your feet shoulder-width apart.
- With your knees slightly bent, hold the resistance band in both hands with your arms straight out in front of you. (You should be gripping the band so your knuckles are facing upward and your palms facing the floor.)
- Pull your arms apart, stretching the band as you squeeze your shoulder blades together.
- Hold the tension for several seconds.
- Slowly return your arms back infront of you, making sure not to let the band snap back.
- Do 3 sets of 10 reps. A heavier band will add more resistance.
Single-Arm Band Lateral Raise
- Standing upright, begin by looping your resistance band around one foot.
- With the opposite hand, grab the other end of the band, so it is crossing in front of your body.
- Engage your core and lift your arm out to the side until it is at ear height, making sure not to bend your waist.
- Hold this position for several seconds.
- Slowly drop your arm back down to the starting position.
- Do 3 sets of 10 reps, increasing the resistance as your fitness level improves.
(Begin at 30 seconds in: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-fjIqkPHz8c)
- With your feet shoulder-width apart, place the resistance band around the bottom of both feet.
- Keeping your back upright and your knees slightly bent, hold the band in both hands with your palms facing each other.
- Quickly lift your hands to your chest, keeping your elbows tightly against your sides.
- Maintain the tension in the band and through your arms throughout every rep.
- Speed is key! Do 3 sets of 15 reps.
(Begin at 10 seconds: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SniJo-6t7Gk)
Put it into action
Whether you favor exercising at the gym or in the comfort of your own home, resistance bands provide effective and practical training for any fitness level. They are an excellent tool for an overall upper body and shoulder workout and, unlike traditional heavyweights, relatively gentle on the joints. While some exercises do call for speed, resistance bands are especially effective when each rep is performed slowly, holding the tension in every position and using the band’s full range.
As your muscles adjust to the band’s opposition, using a heavier band with greater resistance will allow you to level up and push yourself to continue to build strength and endurance throughout your entire upper body.