Many athletes have come across resistance bands without knowing how to actually use them. To the untrained eye, they look like simple rubber tubes, which don’t seem as challenging as a set of dumbbells or a barbell. However, resistance bands can be used for strength training just as effectively as traditional dumbbells—with arguably more versatility. Below are three exercises (videos above) with their resistance band counterparts, along with tips on how to increase intensity.
Dumbbell Bench Press = Resistance Band Chest Press
The Dumbbell Bench Press is a gym favorite with many young athletes—and for good reason. It develops strength in the chest, one of the largest, most powerful muscle groups in the body. When you alternate arms or work one side at a time, you also promote core stabilization. All of these benefits can also be achieved with the Resistance Band Chest Press.
Future Hall-of-Famer Terrell Owens performs the Resistance Band Chest Press, hitting the same muscles as the standard Bench Press. To increase difficulty, perform the exercise on one leg. To improve balance and build leg strength, hold a Squat position during the exercise. To boost power, perform the movement quickly.
- Keep core tight
- Create a stable foundation with a staggered stance
- Drive arms straight ahead
Dumbbell Shoulder Circuit = Resistance Band Shoulder Circuit
Dumbbells are great for performing any kind of shoulder circuit, including the Shoulder Press, Lateral Raise and Front Raise. All of these motions target your anterior or posterior deltoids at different angles. But if you can’t get to the gym or simply need a change of scene, use a resistance band for the same exercises.
Tim Beckham performs his shoulder circuit with a resistance band. He completes a Front Raise, Lateral Raise and Rear Delt Spread to build strength throughout his shoulders’ range of motion. Again, you can increase the difficulty of this exercise by performing it on one foot. For a huge challenge to your balance, try it with your eyes closed. And do it all in the comfort of your living room.
- Perform Front Raise, Lateral Raise and Rear Delt Spread
- Do not let the band yank your arms down
- Use slow, controlled movements
- Perform through the full range of motion
Sets/Reps: 3×15 for each movement
Split-Squat Jump = Split-Squat Jumps With Resistance Bands
Basketball, football, lacrosse—name your sport, and you probably need strong, powerful legs to play it. The Split-Squat Jump has become a favorite of athletes who want to fly high and move powerfully around the court or field. This exercise can be performed anywhere with a flat surface.
To increase difficultly, strap a resistance band around your ankles, like 2006 NBA Rookie of the Year Brandon Roy. The band makes it harder to keep your legs apart when landing and builds strong hip flexors and glutes. In this case, the use of the resistance band not only equals a traditional exercise, it takes it to a higher level.
- Feet should be walking step distance apart in a split-squat position
- Keep your knee behind your toes, chest up and shoulders back
Adding resistance bands to your workout can benefit your performance. They can also help you retool an old workout when you’re just going through the motions instead of pushing yourself. Get creative with resistance bands. You will discover new ways to challenge yourself that would not be possible with dumbbells or barbells. Use the exercises above as a starting point to improve your strength and stability with resistance bands.