If you’ve had the poor fortune of needing to see a physio recently, they probably put you back together with a resistance band, often referred to as a TheraBand.
This unassuming elasticated strip is one of the most amazing pieces of fitness equipment you should invest in, with benefits from strength to posture to joint health. While it might not be the flashiest piece of equipment, it’s definitely one of the best value for money items in the health and fitness space.
Today we’re going to explain how to use a resistance band for the best results, with 7 of the best resistance band exercises. These will include everything from corrective exercise and strengthening to improving your posture and mobility. If you’re looking to get the most out of your money and cause effective change, stick with us!
Why Use a resistance band?
The resistance band is specifically designed to be easy to use, easy to progress, and effective for prehab/rehab as well as strengthening. It allows you to work smaller muscles and weak movements, building strength and joint health.
The elastic resistance is great as it can be used for a constant tension that gets harder as you move through stronger positions. This means it’s going to have a great effect on the development of control in crucial joints like the hips and shoulders, especially if you have an impinged or dysfunctional joint/muscle.
However, one of the biggest benefits you’re going to get is the versatility that comes with a resistance band. We’re going to take you some exercises, hopefully, some that you may have missed or not tried before.
These 7 exercises are all fantastic and should be included in your training routine, whether you’re dealing with a shoulder problem stemming from work or you’re an athlete looking to bulletproof your body.
The beauty of these exercises is that they’re designed to balance the body, something that we all benefit from. There are performance benefits to postural and prehab exercise, but that’s exactly what they are: exercises designed to strengthen weak muscles, improve movement, and bring better health.
Disclaimer: we have decided to help illustrate the following exercises with videos found on YouTube. These videos are not produced by us so we suggest that you support the great channels that made them by going to check them out.
This is a great exercise to learn how to abduct the hip in a healthy way, using the correct muscles, all while moving. This makes it a great, real-world exercise for building hip strength and control – something you’re going to need no matter who you are or what your goals might be.
This is also great for athletes as a warm-up or corrective exercise before exercise. It’s a great strength and conditioning tool to improve hip control during a squat or similar exercise. On the other hand, it can be a great way to warm up for a competition or other high-pressure performance where you need to balance time-restriction with maximum performance.
To perform the crab walk, simply tie the band so that it’s tight and secure, and sidestep. This should be performed with a slightly-bent knee that doesn’t extend or bend during the movement. Think about moving by opening up the hips and keeping constant pressure on the band.
Another great hip exercise, the clam is about external rotation and abduction. They’re a great way of improving control in the hips, or strength if you’re struggling with tight or weak buttocks. This is crucial in keeping the knees and lower back healthy, making it one of the most important exercises for health and longevity.
This is also a great way of improving control and movement quality for athletes – especially during strength and conditioning. It’s a fantastic way to improve the involvement of the glutes, a key muscle for running, jumping, and performing squats or deadlifts.
Simply tie the band around the lower thighs and secure with a knot. From there, lie on your side, keep your heels together and core tight, and rotate your top knee away from the bottom one. Keep the core tight and spine neutral – otherwise, you’ll just be compensating and won’t get the full benefit of the exercise.
3. Face Pull
This is a great exercise for strengthening the muscles of the upper back – crucial for both posture and rotator cuff health. With over 40% of active people and athletes complaining of shoulder pain or injury, it’s clear that this exercise is necessary.
The shoulders have the greatest range of movement of any joint, but they need to be strong and stable, too. The face pull develops small muscles like the rear delts and deep back muscles, while also teaching you how to move better and control the movement of your shoulders and upper back.
Simply feed the band around an upright structure (such as a squat rack or even a post/leg of a table), taking one end in either hand. From there, pull the elbows back until you’re in a “Y” shape, and squeeze the elbows back, keeping the elbows above the hands at all time.
You can combine these with shoulder rotations to make for a quick superset for better results in a pinch.
4. Shoulder External Rotation
Similar to the face pull, the shoulder external rotation is a great way to combat the postural demands of 21st-century life. The shoulders are an incredibly delicate joint and require lots of muscle and strength to stabilize – something this exercise is great for.
The external rotation of the shoulders really opens up the chest and strengthens the upper back, making it a great way to train better posture. Avoid leaning back during this exercise and focus on opening up through the chest and squeezing the upper back muscles/tucking the shoulder blades down.
As before, feed the band around a stable structure and take either end in each hand. From there, pull your elbows back until you’re in a “T” shape. Once in this position, try to keep the elbows fixed in position and rotate your shoulder until your knuckles are facing the sky. Squeeze at the end of the movement and slowly rotate back to the start position.
5. Shoulder Dislocates
This is another shoulder exercise, but this one is a simple mobility exercise. It’s designed to stretch the muscles of the front of the shoulder and the chest – the ones that get tight and often ruin posture.
By reducing the demand of these muscles – and strengthening the ones in the upper back and the back of the shoulder with exercises mentioned above – you can radically improve your posture. Stretching the tight muscles and strengthening the weak ones improves your resting position and puts the joint back into a healthier position, reducing the risk of injury.
6. Supinated Band Pull-Aparts
This is a great exercise for everyone – it builds strength and control in the weak muscles of the upper back in a way that translates to exercise performance and posture.
The band pull-apart is a great exercise by itself, with benefits to the muscles at the back of the shoulder, the muscles surrounding the shoulder blades, and the traps. These are all key to controlling the posture of your upper back – essential for dealing with “desk posture”.
Taking a supinated grip on each side of the band, bend the elbows slightly and move your arms outwards. Focus on using the muscles of the upper back and tucking the shoulder blades back and down at the end of the movement. Think about opening up the chest and rotating outwards through the shoulders.
7. Core Rotation
This is a great way to train your core in a way that many of us have neglected. Rotation through the core is a key aspect of training to improve spine stability and core strength. Since rotation is one of the most common causes of injury, getting strong in this position is key.
The band core rotation is a great way to train this movement in a safe way that can easily be made easier or more difficult. This movement trains rotation and counter-rotation, building strength in these forgotten core muscles, building mobility, and improving movement control. Essential for healthy aging and athletic performance!
Simply anchor the resistance band around a stable point, have your knees slightly bent, and stand side on to the anchor point of the band. Holding the band out from your body, simply rotate away, trying to open your chest up in the opposite direction of the band.
(Rotation should always be performed slowly and with as much control as possible. This is true of all exercises, but even more so when rotating through the trunk!)
Getting these exercises into your exercise routine is key to keeping your body balanced and preparing yourself for movement in the future. Whether its exercise to fix a problem, strengthen an old injury, or simply prevent them in the future, a resistance band is one of the best tools for all-around physical preparation and performance.
Try these 7 exercises – work them into your warm-up, your cool-down, or even while you’re at the office. They make for a great workout, a great warm-up, or simply a great way to take off some of the aches and pains and invest in your future health!