Strength-training exercises are extremely important for our health and fitness. Since the pandemic, there is a revived kid on the fitness block, resistance bands! Their popularity has skyrocketed and many know that they’re actually often used in rehabilitation training. They may seem like fancy gadgets with all their shapes, sizes and colours, but don’t be put off by this – everyone should give these small, easy-to-use, cheap bits of kit a go!
Resistance bands include a variety of chest expanders used as medical devices, and now they have expert trainers building entire training programs around them. For example, celebrity personal trainer Faye Edwards, has started just this kind of class, having created ‘The Method’ for the luxury gym club, Third Space. Curious? Then follow on for Resistance Bands: 5 Great, Upper-Body Exercises You MUST Do!
Celebrity Personal Trainer: Faye Edwards Demonstrates ‘The Method’
Here are a few exercises you can include in your workout that especially target your upper-body. The upper body controls your ability to perform everyday activities such as reaching, pulling, pushing and lifting. Training these groups of muscles improves your flexibility, mobility and range of motion. It is especially important to prevent injuries, and disease as if your upper body strength deteriorates as you age, you are more prone to these issues and also a diminished quality of life.
1. Tricep Extensions
Start by standing on the resistance band with both feet and holding one end in each hand. Then stretch the bands till your hands are behind your head, with your elbows bent pointing towards the ceiling. For the movement, straighten your arms overhead, pause at the top and then lower back to starting position.
2. Bicep Curls
Stand on the resistance band with both feet and pick up both handles. Then place your arms extended to the sides of your legs, palms facing towards your body. There must be tension in the band.
For the movement, bend your elbows to lift the resistance band handles towards your shoulders. Always keep your elbows pointing down to the floor and keep the palms of your hands facing towards your body. Then curl back down to the starting position.
3. Shoulder Press
Stand on the center of the resistance band placing your feet hip-width apart. The starting position should be elbows bent at 90 degrees with your palms facing forward. The band should be behind your arms.
For the movement, straighten your arms straight up. Grip the handles at shoulder height. If you cannot keep your arms straight, try using lighter resistance. Slowly return to the starting position.
4. Bent Over Rows
Stand on the resistance band with both feet, shoulder-width apart. For the starting position, bend your knees slightly, lean forward over your toes. Pay attention to your back, keep it flat to prevent injuries.
With your arms fully extended toward your feet, grip the handles. Your palms should be facing each other. For the movement, pull the handles with your palms facing each other bending and pinch your shoulder blades together.
As you bring your hands to your chest, push your chest toward the ground. In this position, you should bend your elbows behind you. Hold and then slowly return to the starting position.
5. Tricep Kickbacks
Stand on the resistance bands with both feet in the middle. For the starting position, bend your knees slightly and lean forward over your toes. Your arms should be bent at 90 degrees.
For the movement, straighten your elbows pushing back until your arms are fully extended behind your body. Keep in mind that only your forearms should move. Pause and reverse the movement to the starting position.
Although the resistance bands are a simple tool to use, it is important to ensure that every movement is controlled. Apart from preventing the bands from hitting you in the eyes, it is important not to minimize the muscle contraction and to keep the tension on the band.
To ensure this, select the right resistance level for the exercise you are about to perform. In general, the lighter the colour the lighter the resistance, but it is always advisable to read the packaging first.
Resistance bands have earned many skeptics who say that they do not help at all. Weights would indeed get you to a higher level of strength in the longer term as there is a wider variety of ‘difficulty’ on offer, as well as greater potential for improvement. However, if you just want an easy, simple and cheap way to start – resistance bands are fantastic!
Despite this, resistance bands definitely bring many benefits. For starters, they are cheap, portable and perfectly adequate for beginners. You can start with a low intensity and progressively increase it; work with just one band, and train almost any muscle of your body.
If you want to increase your overall range of motion generally, or post-injury, resistance bands are for you. But do not be afraid to consider them also for strength training. Just have in mind that the band must be durable, unless you have very little physical strength, a low intensity band won’t be of that much value.
Resistance bands might appear tough to master, especially if you start at a resistance level that is too high. Ultimately, they are a practical, fun and simple way to train your upper body to help you maintain mobility, flexibility (range of motion), and strength.
Have you used resistance bands? Which upper-body exercises work best for you? Let us know in the comments below, and join in the conversation on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram!