If you don’t have tons of weights at your disposal, a resistance band workout can come in clutch if you really want to challenge your muscles. Just one band can provide all the equipment you need for a full-body workout.
“Bands are just so convenient,” ACE-certified personal trainer Sivan Fagan, owner of Strong with Sivan, tells SELF. “It’s not always about heavy weights—you can challenge your muscles in different ways, and resistance bands definitely accomplish that.”
There are other benefits of resistance bands too, in addition to their convenience and portability. Both resistance bands and dumbbells provide external resistance for your muscles, but bands do so in a slightly different way. Bands challenge your muscles through something called “progressive resistance,” says Fagan. This means as you go through the concentric phase of a move—say, when you’re bringing the weight up in a biceps curl—the exercise is actually getting harder.
Basically, the farther you pull the band, the more difficult the move will be. That’s why with resistance bands, you’ll feel a really major burn at the end range of motion in a move.
Another plus? With resistance bands, you keep constant tension on your muscle throughout the move. “With dumbbells, there are certain points during the range of motion when you don’t have resistance on the muscles,” Fagan says.
Like with weights, you can apply progressive overload with resistance bands to keep getting stronger—you can either do more reps or progress to bands with higher amounts of resistance, says Fagan. (With large loop bands, the thicker the band, the heavier the resistance generally is.)
Large loop bands are also great tools to help work your upper and your lower body. This resistance band workout created by Fagan will do just that, challenging your hamstrings, glutes, and quads, and well as your shoulders and your back.
Ready for a total-body workout you can do anywhere? Read on for everything you need to start this resistance band workout.
What you need: One or more resistance bands (depending on whether you want to go heavier or lighter for some of the exercises). Either looped bands or bands with handles will work.
- Single-leg deadlift
- Single-arm row
- Squat thruster
- Shoulder external rotation
- Glute kickback
- In the superset, complete 12-15 reps of each exercise per side. Rest 60 to 90 seconds after both exercises are completed. Do 3 rounds total.
- In the triset, complete 12-15 reps of the squat thruster, 15-20 reps of the shoulder external rotation, and 12-15 reps per side of the kickback. Rest for 60 to 90 seconds in between rounds. Do 3 rounds total.
Demoing the moves below are Saneeta Harris (GIF 1), a blogger, SFG Level 1 certified kettlebell trainer, and the founder of @NaturalHairGirlsWhoLift; Hejira Nitoto (GIFs 2 and 4), a mom of six and a certified personal trainer and fitness apparel line owner based in Los Angeles; and Teresa Hui (GIFs 3 and 5), a native New Yorker who has run over 150 road races.