Do these band exercises to work out in your home during the pandemic. Credit: Natalie Williams / BDN

Resistance bands are perfect examples of a small, lightweight exercise tool capable of giving you a full body workout. The bands are versatile, easy to use and exercises using them can be modified to match your level of fitness.

Here’s what you need to know to incorporate resistance bands into your home workout.

What are resistance bands?

Resistance bands are basically giant rubber bands that force your muscles to work against tension. They are available in different types including loops of flexible rubber tubes, single tubes with handles at either end, simple flat bands and bands shaped in a figure 8.

Safe, convenient and effective

Trainers love resistance bands because whatever exercise you do it can be modified to fit your fitness level.

“They are incredibly convenient,” said Evan Aloupis, a Bangor-based fitness coach. “You are getting a full body workout that is safe and low impact.”

Aloupis also likes the bands because of their portability. You can tuck them into your purse, gym bag or even your pockets for workouts on the go. As far as using them at home, because of their versatility they can take the place of several other larger pieces of equipment.

But like anything, you have to use them to get any benefit.

“When it comes to home equipment statistically 90 percent of it never gets used,” Aloupis said. “The key is being consistent no matter what kind of equipment you have or exercise you are doing at home.”

Aloupis recommends treating your home workouts like a paid gym session.

“If you would typically make an appointment for the gym at noon, ‘book’ your appointment for your home workout and keep it,” he said. “That habit will really help keep you going.”

Buying resistance bands

Resistance bands come in different tension levels with the most common providing 10- 30- and 60-pounds of resistance. Single resistance bands run around $8 to $15 depending on the type. Combination sets of bands can start at $15 and go as high as $80. They are available in the athletic or exercise departments at most large department stores and online.

The important thing is to get bands that give you enough resistance and challenge without hindering your motion. The best part is, once a band is not enough of a challenge, you can always move up to more resistance. Plus, when travel restrictions are lifted, you are going to have exercise equipment you can easily take on the road with you so you never miss a workout.

What can you do with resistance bands?

Different sizes and resistance levels of resistance bands allow you to do a variety of exercise variations targeting different muscle groups in your body.

Resistance bands can increase the impact of squats, for instance. Place both legs inside a loop resistance band and pull it up like a pair of pants until it is just below your knees. Stand with your legs wide enough apart so the band stays in place and does not slip down your legs to the floor. With your hands clasped in front of your chest, take a big step to the right and go into the squat position until your thighs are parallel to the floor. Bring your right leg back and then do the same thing with your left leg. For another squat routine, move the band up so it’s around your thighs. Lower yourself into a half squat and take a step sideways with your right foot followed by your left foot. Then do the same thing going to the left.

You don’t need barbells to do an effective deadlift when you have resistance bands. Stand with your feet hip-distance apart and step on the loop band until it is under your arches. Grab the top of the band with both hands, bend at your hips and then stand up straight, pulling against the band’s resistance. There are several other lifting variations you can do while standing on the bands. Use both hands to hold either side of a straight band for bicep curls, lateral arm raises and shoulder presses. Loop them around your wrists and with your arms extended straight in front of you, palms facing each other open the band as wide as possible. Do the same thing, but with your elbows bent at a 90-degree angle against your sides.

Consider making a plank more challenging by incorporating a resistance band into the movement. Loop the band around your ankles, go into the plank position and then alternate moving one leg to the side against the band’s resistance. You can also loop the band around a post or other non-moving object. While on your knees loop the other end around the tops of both feet and then go into the plank position. Move forward just enough to feel the resistance of the band. While holding the plank, take a short hop forward using your feet to propel you against the band’s resistance. Then work against that resistance to do a controlled short hop back.

Julia Bayly

Julia Bayly is a reporter at the Bangor Daily News with a regular bi-weekly column. Julia has been a freelance travel writer/photographer since 2000.