Whether you’re intimidated by the gym or just prefer working out in the comfort of your own home, resistance band workouts are a great starting point for beginners. Bands have a number of benefits: they’re an affordable piece of equipment to add to your home gym and can be taken just about anywhere. Plus, in addition to using them in your workout, they’re also great for warming up and stretching.
We chatted with two Playbook creators — Bailey Nomi, a barre and yoga fusion instructor, and Aubrie Edgington, a fitness and nutrition coach — about resistance training to give you the inside scoop on how to get the most from your workouts. Here’s what they had to say.
Not all resistance bands are created equal, so it’s best to invest in a set of light, medium, and heavy bands (both short and long) and use them for different purposes.
“It’s nice to have all three [resistances] depending on which muscle group you’re using… for legs, you’re obviously going to be able to use a higher resistance band that’s tighter and harder to use,” Edgington says. “The long bands are great for overhead presses [and] deadlifts, whereas the shorter bands are great for glutes, legs, and hamstrings.”
Edgington offers both short (ideal for thigh, hip, and butt workouts) and long resistance bands (great for stretching and warming up), and each set includes three different resistance strengths: light, medium, and heavy.
Long bands can even be incorporated into your yoga workouts.
“The long bands are really great for stretching and some of the yoga that I do on my app uses the long bands for you to be able to wrap it around your feet and pull forward — that gets you flexibility in the hamstrings, or whatever the stretch may be,” Nomi says.
When you’re starting to work out, proper form is key, as it helps prevent injury and allows you to get the most out of each exercise. You can use resistance bands to perfect the most basic of exercises, like a push up.
“A lot of times when [the girls on my app] aren’t doing strength training… it’s harder to do a push up and so a lot of times, to be able to get your knees up off of the ground, we’ll take the hip band, we’ll place it right above the elbows and it just pops you right back up. It gives you the feeling of a real push up without modifying with your knees down, and [my app users] love that,” Nomi says.
Nomi recommends starting with light bands and progressing to heavier ones, which she demonstrates in her fitness app.
“In my ‘Pelvic Floor & Core’ [program] specifically, I use a lot of light bands because I feel like that is a good introductory workout, though you can always supplement for the heavy ones. And then when I’m doing the more advanced barre workouts, which specifically would be in the category of my ‘Studio’ classes or my ‘Full-Length’ classes, you’ll see me grabbing for a heavier resistance more often because I feel like especially standing exercises, which you’ll see in my ‘Full-Length’ [program], having [the band] just above your knees and really getting that hip movement, I like to use the heavier bands for that,” Nomi says.
She adds that once you become comfortable with both the exercises and the bands, you can increase the resistance to get a better workout.
“I cue [using bands] all the time as a way to advance the workout, so typically what I’ll do for most of the workouts is I’ll show it very basic, [demonstrate] what you do without the band, and then once you get the idea of the motion and especially the placement that your body needs to be in, then you can start to add the resistance and then that’s where you start to get stronger and stronger,” Nomi says.
Edgington says it’s possible to get a great full-body workout with resistance bands by creating toned, lean muscle mass. She advises focusing on one particular muscle group at a time to see the best results.
“[With resistance bands], try and focus on one muscle group [at a time] and burn out that muscle group, just because since you’re not using weight, it may take a little more time to burn out that muscle group,” she says. “Bands are great for resistance training, building lean muscle, and burning overall body fat.”
The best way to get an effective workout with resistance bands is to follow a program that shows you exactly how to use them.
“If you just keep pushing it [when lifting weights], you’re not going to see results, so bands are a great active recovery day to let your body rest a little bit but also to get some sort of exercise and movement in,” Edgington says. “I love incorporating resistance bands with weights as well, because you’re building muscle and burning those muscles out, but then also you’re giving it the resistance with the bands, so you’re getting both in one workout.”
The barre and yoga workouts in Nomi’s fitness app are geared toward beginners, and she says bands are incorporated into almost all of her workouts — she also provides exercise modifications in which dumbbells and bands can be used interchangeably in her strength-training programs.
“[In a program], I say, ‘If you want to use your dumbbells, you have to trial and error what weights you want to use, and the same thing with resistance — if you want to just start with the resistance band and then get something heavier as you go, then here’s how you do it.’”
About the author
Cara is a passionate writer and editor with more than 10 years of experience in print and online media. She loves storytelling and believes that words have the power to change the world. In her free time, Cara is an avid reader, enjoys meditating, and loves spending time with her husband and their chihuahua pug mix, Callie, streaming the latest horror flick or true crime documentary. She is a graduate of Michigan State University's School of Journalism.