Rubber Band Exercise Program

Laura Williams, M.S.Ed.
Resistance band training

A rubber band exercise program, one using rubber bands aka resistance bands, can be a great alternative for people who have a hard time getting to the gym or who have problems performing more traditional forms of exercise. Rubber band exercises are also great when you travel, enabling you to easily add exercises to your daily routine no matter where you are.

The Rubber Band Exercise Program

As you gain experience using resistance bands, you can devise fairly advanced workouts using your bodyweight and bands with variable levels of resistance, but initially you should start with a basic rubber band program to get you started. You can perform this routine one of two ways:

  1. Perform two sets of each exercise, aiming to complete between 10 and 15 repetitions of each exercise. Rest about 60 to 90 seconds between each set.
  2. Perform the exercises in a circuit, performing each exercise in succession for approximately 60 seconds per exercise before moving on. After completing the circuit once, rest for three to five minutes before performing the circuit a second time.

The goal is to acclimate you to a regular workout routine. If you make it through this workout once or twice and find that it's too easy, ramp up the intensity by using thicker bands with more resistance with a greater variety of more difficult moves.

  • Chest: Put the band around something sturdy, like a pillar, at chest-height. Turn your back toward the pillar and grab the ends of the band with your hands. Push the bands straightforward like a standing-up bench press. Move the band at an upward angle to perform an "incline press" movement.
  • Shoulders: Stand on the very center of the rubber band and grab the ends of the bands with your hands. Extend your arms straight up and out to the sides. Make an effort to stand balanced and keep your abs tensed.
  • Back: Return the band to the same location you did the chest exercise, only this time face the band. Grip the ends of the band in each hand with your arms fully extended in front of your body. Tighten your back and pull the band toward your body as you bend your elbows. Keep your knees slightly bent, concentrating on using your back to do the pulling.
  • Biceps: Stand on the middle of the band and let your arms hang straight down. Grab both sides of the band with your hands at a position where you will create tension right from the start of the exercise. Keeping your elbows close to your sides, begin curling your hands up toward your shoulders.
  • Triceps: Hold the band in one hand and extend the band over your head so that the band hangs down the center of your back. Bend your elbow so that your fist is behind your neck. Reach behind your back with the opposite hand and grip the band at a location that creates tension. Keeping this hand in place, pull the band upward with the hand behind your neck, extending your elbow.
  • Legs: Stand on the center of the band and hold your hands next to your thighs with enough tension to provide resistance throughout. Bend your knees and squat down until your thighs are about parallel to the floor, then reverse the movement and push back up. Keep your back straight and your abs tense.

Who Benefits From Resistance Bands

Resistance band routines are particularly suitable for a few distinct categories of people:

  • Travelers: Lugging a set of 50 lb dumbbells isn't usually practical, but esistance bands take up very little space and can easily fit into a carry-on bag.
  • Those living in a compact space: Individuals with limited space may enjoy resistance bands because they require very little storage space, and working out only requires a few square feet of free movement.
  • Those watching their budget: You can pick up a complete set of resistance bands at a big box store for less than $50.00. If your budget doesn't allow monthly fitness center dues, a set of resistance bands can be a reasonable alternative.
  • Individuals who are new to exercise or who are rehabing and injury: It's tough to get back on track when you're rehabing an injury, have been out of exercise for a long time or you're simply carrying some extra weight. Resistance bands provide a low impact form or resistance exercise, allowing you to start out easy without subjecting yourself to the kind of muscle or joint damage that other forms of exercise can cause.

Purchasing Resistance Bands

In most cases, you want to purchase at least two or three different levels of resistance bands. This will allow you to adjust the difficulty of your workout routine based on the exercise you're performing. Don't get confused by the different styles of bands available - they all essentially work the same way. For ease of use and increased exercise flexibility, you may want to start out with flat bands because you can tie them into different lengths and shapes based on the exercise you are performing. When starting out, plan on going through your rubber band exercise routine at least two or three times a week.

Rubber Band Exercise Program