Focus On: Resistance Bands

For this week’s Focus On post, I wanted to choose something that’s easily accessible to everyone: inexpensive and doesn’t matter which city you’re in. Resistance bands are the first thing that popped into my mind. They’re super lightweight, compact and you can get an amazing workout using these, wherever you are.

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What is it: Resistance bands are long rubber bands with handles, that are used to perform strength training exercises. The resistance is provided by the elasticity of the bands (the thicker the band, the more resistance it provides). The typical use for resistance bands is to stand on the band and perform traditional weight training movements (like bicep curls, or lateral raises), or you can use one handle at a time (tricep extentions), or use a door attachment to increase the variety of the exercises you can perform (rows, chest flyes, etc).

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The amazing thing about resistance bands is that you can increase the difficulty by changing your position –if you’re using a door attachment, stepping farther away from the door, or if you’re perform a traditional movement, shorten the length of the band you’re pulling by stepping closer to the handle, or pulling the handles over your shoulders- and unlike traditional weight training with dumbbells, some moves are much more challenging with the resistance band. For example, if you’re doing a bicep curl with a dumbbell, as you pass the 90* point, the movement will become easier. With a resistance band, when you pass the 90* point of the bicep curl, it actually becomes harder because you’ll pulling against more resistance.

If a certain band gets too easy for you, you can just pick up a thicker band.

One of the guests at work asked one of my friends (coworkers) if she’ll be able to achieve her desired results by using resistance bands instead of weights. He had a really great response: “Pull on the handle of the resistance band. Now close your eyes. Does it matter what you’re pulling against? It could be a can of soup, a dumbbell or a resistance band- you’re still strength training.”

Light resistance bands are also a great choice for those who may have joint problems or arthritis.

Some of my favorite exercises:

*Here’s a great site with quite a few*

Tricep extension:

Total body:

[Apologies for the blurry pics, but I really liked these exercises]

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DVDs: There are quite a few resistance band training DVDs out there. The best I’ve tried so far is the Tone DVD from TurboFire. Chalene does some sick moves, and I’ve had the DVDs for over a year and still can’t finish the entire resistance band workout without stopping for a break.

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Cons: The only con I can think is the lack of cardio options with resistance bands, which is ok, since they’re intended to be used for strength training. The only cardio I’ve managed to do with it is loop it into the door attachment, face away from the door with both handles in my hands, step away from the door and bringing my hands to the floor before going into resistance mountain climbers. Pretty killer 🙂 If you’re planning to travel and use resistance bands, just pack a jump rope with you. Insane cardio and takes up minimal space in your suitcase 🙂 If you know any other resistance band cardio options, let me know!

Do you use resistance bands for strength training? What’s your favorite exercise?

If you’d like to see a certain “Focus On” post in the future- hit me up in the comments 🙂

Have a great day <3

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  1. Claire @ Live and Love to Eat on July 27, 2011 at 11:38 am

    I have bands but have only used them to stretch before – this is a great post for using them in the future!

  2. Brittany @ Itty Bits of Balance on July 27, 2011 at 11:40 am

    I love using resistance bands during weight training! Especially for my arms 😉

  3. katelyn on July 27, 2011 at 11:42 am

    LOVE LOVE LOVE!!! I just moved from Philly to Bombay, India and I NEED WORKOUT IDEAS!! Can you buy the turbofire DVDs separately or are there any other good resistance band DVDs? (readers, pleeeeease chime in!)

    • Fitnessista on July 27, 2011 at 11:47 am

      i’m almost positive you can buy them separately. check with she’s a beachbody coach

  4. Leanne (Bride to Mrs.) on July 27, 2011 at 11:42 am

    I really like resistance bands! They’re nice & compact, and like you said… you can make the workout harder by changing your position!

    Good luck with the moving/decorating the new house, please post pictures once you’re done!

    • Fitnessista on July 27, 2011 at 11:47 am

      i totally will!

  5. Jenny on July 27, 2011 at 11:43 am

    Great post. I recently cancelled my gym membership to save some money, and I keep having these tiny doubts about what I can really do with a “home gym.” What a great, inexpensive way to switch up my at-home strength training. Holla!

  6. Suzi @ Confessions of a Fitness Instructor on July 27, 2011 at 11:44 am

    I love how compact bands are, esp. for someone carting around equipment to teach classes, bands are much easier to carry than a big bag of dumbbells!

  7. Nicole on July 27, 2011 at 11:44 am

    I used resistance bands for TurboFire and Power 90 because I wanted to make sure I was going to stick with it before I invested in a set of weights. Those puppies were no joke and always gave me an amazing workout! Now, I use free weights, but I’m glad you are getting the word out that resistance bands are no joke!

  8. Dori on July 27, 2011 at 11:44 am

    I have one of these, but never really looked into what to do with it. Thanks!

  9. Carolyn on July 27, 2011 at 11:45 am

    I’ve used resistance bands in physical therapy but never considered using them for strength training. Seems like kind of a no-brainer now! Thanks for the suggestions!

  10. Elizabeth on July 27, 2011 at 11:45 am

    I love resistance bands! Especially for traveling when you are’t sure what the gym sitch will be. I am a little terrified that if I attach it to a door or something it will break and smack me in the face…

    • LisaG on July 27, 2011 at 11:51 am

      That’s what I always think about. I haven’t been brave enough to do the door attachment!!

  11. Kimberly on July 27, 2011 at 11:45 am

    Thanks Gina! 🙂 I will have to incorporate some of these moves!!

  12. Angela @ Eat Spin Run Repeat on July 27, 2011 at 11:50 am

    LOVE it!! I have some at home and some at my office which I keep in my desk drawer. They’re great for mid-afternoon stretching when my neck and shoulders feel tight. It’s really easy to just sit at my desk and do seated rows with the band looped around my feet (and not look like a complete tool in the process – it’s pretty discrete!) 🙂

  13. Holly @ The Runny Egg on July 27, 2011 at 11:53 am

    I have some bands but I really only use them for stretching. I just don’t really care for them too much. I agree that the Chalene toning dvd is tough!

    I don’t remember seeing a Focus On post about kettlebells — that is something I’d be interested in reading about.

  14. LisaG on July 27, 2011 at 11:53 am

    How about a post on excercises to do at work?! I’m going to bring some of my bands to work. Good idea.

  15. Gina @ Running to the Kitchen on July 27, 2011 at 11:56 am

    This is a great post, I’ve never really used resistance bands b/c I never know what to do with them! They’ve always intimidated me which is ridiculous b/c they’re just bands but, this is so helpful!

  16. Ashley on July 27, 2011 at 12:05 pm

    Loved this post! Thanks for the awesome ideas. I saw the exercise ball in one of the pictures..I’ve seen them used but don’t understand why or what moves to use them on. A “focus on” about the balls would be greatly appreciated! 🙂

  17. Katie on July 27, 2011 at 12:06 pm

    I would love to see a post about how to use a BOSU for a great workout! Those things look so cool! I also think a post on basic weight machines at the gym and how to use them would be great… I am finally confident enough to do strength training on my own in the free weight area, but I’m still scared of the machines!

    Good luck settling into the new house 🙂

  18. Beth (well ill be) on July 27, 2011 at 12:09 pm

    I never even thought about using these for travel. Genius!

  19. Nikita on July 27, 2011 at 12:09 pm

    I have never used resistance bands, but would love to try them! They look so portable and convenient. Thanks for the info!

  20. Aine @ Something to Chew Over on July 27, 2011 at 12:13 pm

    I do use resistance bands but I prefer my kettlebell or dumbells. My main problem is that lots of exercises require a ‘sturdy object’ to anchor the band with and I don’t have one! I really like taking them with me when I travel though as they’re very suitcase friendly.

  21. Yolie @ Practising Wellness on July 27, 2011 at 12:16 pm

    I always travel with a couple of resistance bands, and a skipping rope, and a yoga mat, and they all serve me so well! Thank you so much for this thorough and informational post – it’s really useful! I’ve got to check out that Turbofire DVD…it sounds awesome and great for travel! xyx

  22. Jess on July 27, 2011 at 12:17 pm

    I love resistance bands. They helped me bounce back from a frustrating arm injury last year!

    One thing I’d love to see in the future would be a post about tips for diet/exercise while recovering from an injury or procedure. I found out I may need foot surgery, and while I’ve been told that upper-body exercise would be ok, I’d love some suggestions on how to keep from getting bored and/or overusing the same arm/back muscles.

  23. kaila @ healthy helper! on July 27, 2011 at 12:28 pm

    I’ve never been a big resistance band user but they really are versatile! I think I’m gonna give them a try!

  24. Hillary on July 27, 2011 at 12:29 pm

    I love the idea of having something compact to travel with. I think I might need to buy some, just to have on hand!

  25. Lili on July 27, 2011 at 12:48 pm

    I’d love to see a focus on aquafit. I seriously injured my Achilles a few years ago, and I’m still very limited in what I’m allowed to do (no running, jumping, etc). Aquafit has helped me keep active and lose some of the weight post-injury (still working on that!). Plus, I love that you don’t feel as sweaty, since you’re already soaked! Classes in the deep end make me ache all over the next day. Love it! 😀

  26. Steph @ Running with the Kitchen on July 27, 2011 at 1:00 pm

    I don’t normally use them for strength training unless I’m traveling. But I love them for hotel room workouts. Pair resistance bands with some Valslides or a TRX and I’m good to go. I usually end up more sore than I do lifting regular weights at home!!!

  27. Meghan Doll on July 27, 2011 at 1:06 pm

    Love this post Gina! I need to thank you for it actually! I am going on a vacation in the next couple weeks and wanted to make sure I kept up my workout routine, but visiting family always comes first, so I didn’t think the gym would work into my schedule. Packing weights wouldn’t work either since I am flying, so these resistance bands are perfect for my trip! THANK YOU Gina! I would have never thought of these guys 😀 I love the exercises you posted too because it gives me some ideas! I like your mountain climber example too 😉 Sounds like a toughie but a gooder!

    • Fitnessista on July 27, 2011 at 5:45 pm

      so glad it helped! enjoy your vacay 🙂

  28. Laura @ prettylittlewords on July 27, 2011 at 1:18 pm

    Ooooh these are awesome — I have a bunch hiding under my bed somewhere. Maybe I should bust them out and give them some well-deserved attention! Thanks for reminding me! 😉

  29. Kristin @ STUFT Mama on July 27, 2011 at 1:55 pm

    Love this post! I teach lots of classes (some stroller classes for mommies included) that only use resistance bands. They need some more love! 🙂 I’ve been needing some new ideas too, so this post is just PERFECT!!! 🙂 Yay! Thanks for the tips!

  30. Katelyn @ Chef Katelyn on July 27, 2011 at 2:37 pm

    Love demmmm. We use them and attach them to our couch!!

  31. Heather @ Get Healthy with Heather on July 27, 2011 at 2:39 pm

    I love resistance bands! Theyre perfect to take when traveling… Easy to pack and use.

  32. Sonia (the Mexigarian) on July 27, 2011 at 2:57 pm

    I haven’t used resistance bands before. I’m a little afraid of it slipping out of my hand and whip lashing me in the face.

  33. Crystal on July 27, 2011 at 2:57 pm

    Do you have any posts on using the BOSU and/or stability ball? I never know what to do with those.

    • Fitnessista on July 27, 2011 at 5:43 pm

      i don’t- that’s a great idea for one

  34. Laura (Cookies vs. Carrots) on July 27, 2011 at 3:42 pm

    Am I the only person whose hands hurt when using resistance bands? I’ve used several different types and the handles hurt my hands. Maybe I’m just a baby?

  35. Averie @ Love Veggies and Yoga on July 27, 2011 at 3:52 pm

    Thank you for this post, Gina! I was sent resistance bands about 6 mos ago and they’ve just been…collecting dust lately. This motivates me to dust them off and try out some new exercises. You’re so right…they can help you get a versatile workout in without taking up much space, they’re lightweight, lots of perks.

    Happy Unpacking!

  36. Talitha on July 27, 2011 at 5:54 pm

    Hey GIna,

    In Tony Hortons ten minute trainer he does cardio with resistance bands, a belt and door attachment. You face away from the wall and run away the wall with resistance pulling you backwards! Killer 🙂

    • Fitnessista on July 27, 2011 at 5:58 pm

      baller. i want to try it!

      • Monique Gagnon on July 28, 2011 at 9:37 am

        haha this is basically what i just posted about, but you’re using partners instead of a door:)

  37. Elizabeth on July 27, 2011 at 6:14 pm

    I never comment, but thank you for this post! I just got a set of resistance bands, and wasn’t really sure what to do with them, other than the couple of moves my trainer has showed me. It’s nice to have a bunch of options all in one place!

  38. Joelle (On A Pink Typewriter) on July 27, 2011 at 8:31 pm

    Great post- I always see peeps using these at the gym, and more or less feel like a goober just waving them around bc I’m never sure what to do with them.. Ok, actually I don’t think I ever even touch them bc I know I’ll feeeel like a goober unsure of what to do with them haha. But now I know!

  39. Chelsea @ One Healthy Munchkin on July 27, 2011 at 8:34 pm

    I really like using dumbbells, so I’ve never tried using resistance bands. They would be awesome to pack while travelling though!

  40. Dana Marie on July 27, 2011 at 9:00 pm

    mine didnt come with a door attachment— any doofer ideas?

  41. mary on July 27, 2011 at 9:05 pm

    Cons for me include when one breaks and snaps back toward you, you don’t trust them anymore. I’ve also had the bedroom door pop open on me. I think hotel rooms and other doors with deadbolts are all I’d trust now.

    My favorite band exercise (before I quit trusting them ) was ‘deadlifts’ with the small roundish tube.

  42. Kelsey @ Snacking Squirrel on July 27, 2011 at 9:33 pm

    i love using resistance bands especially on the mini trampoline/rebounder..i know, random, but quite a wonderful workout!

    xoxo <3

  43. Karen @ She Flies With Her Own Wings on July 27, 2011 at 10:09 pm

    Awesome post! Since I’m traveling for the next month, I brought 2 resistance bands with me and I’ve been trying to use them religiously, but I recently got stuck in a rut. This post will definitely help me with ideas for new exercises. It’s hard because I’ve been staying in tiny hotel rooms in Asia and most of my moves have to take up very little space…

  44. Nikki on July 27, 2011 at 10:44 pm

    I would love for you to do a focus on weighted hula hoops. I have two. One is 5lb, and one is 3lbs. They are great when you don’t want to do a workout video or even much thinking. I use mine when I watch TV or play on my IPAD. I’ve done an hour before and it was great!

  45. Nikki on July 27, 2011 at 10:47 pm

    Also I see a lot of people at the gym walking backwards or sideways on the treadmill. What is up with that? Does it really burn more calories or give you a better workout?

    • Fitnessista on July 28, 2011 at 12:24 am

      i don’t think so- it sets you up for injury but that’s pretty much it. it’s not a very functional way to train

  46. megan on July 27, 2011 at 11:29 pm

    thanks so much for this post! im injured and am not allowed to do any cardio at all and have been trying to think of what i should be doing for a fitness routine.. problem solved!

  47. Ali @ urbanfruitbat on July 28, 2011 at 12:16 am

    I lovelovelove resistance bands! I did p90x twice through, and it made it a whole lot cheaper, not to have to get new weights when I got stronger. Those mountain climbers would be killer

  48. Monique Gagnon on July 28, 2011 at 9:36 am

    hi! i’m obsessed with resistance bands! One of the instructors at a class I go to at my gym uses them quite often and we do some killer cardio drills using them! you need to have a partner, though… but basically one person puts the band at her hips and the other partner grabs the handles behind her. you position yourselves so that you’re far enough apart to create resistance. from there, the person holding the handles holds a low squat while the person standing (with the band at her hips) runs in place, but in a way that is like you’re trying to run forward… you can do butt kicks and high knees to intensify it! this is a brutal move:)

  49. elizabeth on July 28, 2011 at 6:14 pm

    I love the resistance bands! I feel I get a great workout using them because they force you to control the resistance throughout the move. There is a great online fitness club that utilizes the bands and sends out updated advanced workouts a few times a month to all members. I feel that I do get my heart rate up when I put together different 5 minute segments from this site. The site is I have followed his exercises and eating guidelines and really made a difference in my fitness level!

  50. Sam on July 29, 2011 at 3:28 pm

    Great post Gina! I love all of these focus on posts so much. I need to remember to use resistance bands more especially when i don’t feel like going to the gym!

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