Resistance Bands Review: Essential Exercises and our Top Picks

The Lowdown

So you might be asking yourself, what are resistance bands? Well ask no more, we’ve got you covered. A resistance band is an elastic band used for strength training. They work by adding tension or resistance during exercise, which in turn makes it more difficult to do movements and engages the muscles.

They come in all kinds of shapes, sizes and resistance levels, which make them a very versatile exercise tool, as well as being commonly used in physiotherapy.

Resistance bands are a great way to start a warm-up, as they recruit the stabilizer muscles, get the blood pumping and stretch out the muscles prior to any heavier lifting. Upper and lower body exercises can be incorporated into any routine and one of the best things about resistance bands is how compact they are. No lugging around any bulky equipment. They can fit right in your backpack.

How to use resistance bands in your workout?

Resistance bands can be used by anyone, at any fitness level. They can add an extra challenge to bodyweight exercises, as well as simulating external weight exercises but without putting the same sort of pressure on your joints that dumbbells and barbells can. 

Now there is a vast array of different weird and wonderful exercises you can do with a set of resistance bands, but for this, I will keep it to the simple core exercises, that will work your whole body. 
Just a couple of things to note before using resistance bands, I would recommend using a yoga mat and for any exercises that require using a door, make sure it’s strong and sturdy, as well as read the instructions properly on how to set up the exercise.

Right then, onto the first exercise….

Exercises to do with resistance bands

Bicep Curl

women using resistance bands for bicep curls

Biceps Brachii, or biceps to you and I, make up the ventral portion of your upper arm, aka the front bit. The muscle is composed of the long head and short head and runs from your shoulder to your elbow. Target those biceps with this straightforward blood pumper of an exercise.

  1. Stand with both feet on a resistance band about shoulder width apart. 
  2. Hold one end in either hand (usually resistance bands come with handle attachments). Keep palms facing outward and elbows tucked in. 
  3. Slowly curl your hands upwards towards your shoulders and you should feel a good squeeze in your biceps.
  4. Once you reach the top, slowly lower your hands back down to starting position. 
  5. Repeat. I recommend doing 4 sets of 12 reps to get the biceps really working. 

Some key points to note about this exercise. Keep your elbows tucked in at all times. If your elbows come away from your body, it takes the tension off your biceps. This might be because the resistance is too high. If so, lower the resistance with a different band. Better to do an exercise with a lighter weight and properly than struggle with a heavier one. Another sign the resistance might not be right is if you’re having to arch your back to pull the band up. Keep that back straight.

Lateral Lunge

two women later lunge using bands

One for the legs now and one which works virtually every leg muscle, from your quadriceps to your glutes, hamstrings and both your abductors and adductors. 

  1. Loop a resistance band around both your ankles and stand up straight. Hold your hands together in front of your chest.
  2. Take a big step to your left or right (you’ll want to do both sides eventually). When your foot touches the ground, hinge at the hips and bend your knee into a lunge position. 
  3. Pause for a second in this position. Trust me a second will feel like more than enough and then push back up into the starting position and repeat.

For this exercise, you’ll want to take a decent stride, so if it’s really tough to get a decent stride in, you’ll need to lower the resistance of the band. Also, make sure you do this one slowly. Slow and controlled is the way. Keep your head up so you don’t topple forward.

Standing Glute Kick Back

standing glute kickback in park

Sticking with the lower body, we are honing in on the glutes for this one. 

  1. Loop a band around your ankles and stand with your feet together. Hold on to a wall if you need help balancing at first.
  2. Whilst keeping one leg planted to the floor, lift your other leg behind you. Keep going into you feel tension, usually around a foot or so. Make sure to keep your leg straight.
  3. Hold slightly the position with your leg flexed back and then return to the position.

Chest Press

Targeting the chest, this is one where you might need to use a door. Essentially you’ll just need something stable you can use an anchor.

  1. Loop a resistance band onto something secure behind you. 
  2. Grab a handle in each hand with your back to where you’ve secured the band. 
  3. Slowly press the handles forward until your arms straighten. Straighten but don’t lock your arms and then bring your hands together so they meet in the middle. 
  4. Squeeze together and then slowly bring your arms back to their original position. 

This may feel a little wobbly at first, but try and keep the motion fluid. Depending on where you fasten the band, will determine what part of your chest you work out. The higher the band, the higher up the chest you will target.

Tricep Pull Down

Finishing off with another arm exercise, this time we are targeting the bigger tricep muscle, which sits on the back of your arm. 

  1. Loop a resistance band onto a secure holding, ideally high up.
  2. Hold each end of the band in each hand just below your neck level, with your palms facing down. Keep your elbows tucked in, as though you are making two fists.
  3. Slowly extend your arms, pushing your hands down and to the side, until your arm is nearly straight. 
  4. Squeeze when your arm is extended and you should feel it in your triceps. Then slowly return your hands back up to starting position. 

Can be a little tricky to get the technique right the first time, but the main thing is to keep your elbows tucked. If you don’t have a high-up securing point, you can always go on your knees and perform the exercise from there.

The Best Resistance Bands:

Pro Fitness Resistance Bands Set Review

Pro fitness 3 pack of resistance bands

For me, the best option out there for anyone looking to get started is to buy a set of resistance bands. This way you have flexibility in your workouts, as well as allowing you to progress over time. 

With this in mind, the Pro Fitness Resistance Bands Set is a fantastic option. With 3 different thicknesses and levels of tension, you’ll be working up a sweat in no time. The bands feel comfortable in your hands and the material is strong and durable, even after continued use, which is where cheaper bands can often come unstuck. Simple but effective, these bands will be suitable for a range of users and exercises and at £32, you can’t really go wrong. 

Pro Fitness Resistance bands Best Price
ProductPrice CheckOriginal PriceDiscounted Price
Pro FitnessGTR price checkingFROM £23CLICK HERE
Read more customer reviews here – Review stars 5 out of 5 (199)

On a Budget:

Opti Resistance Loops 4-Pack Review

Opti Resistance bands 4 pack cheapest price

For 4 bands at £13, the Opti bands are great for those who are perhaps looking to test the resistance band waters. These are loop-style bands, meaning they are less versatile than handle-styled bands, but there are still a decent variety of exercises a user can do. All with the same length and height, the thickness of these bands determines the resistance and can be transported in a neat little bag too. 

The only downside of these bands if that the resistance level isn’t the highest and they can be prone to snapping if stretched too far. I would recommend this product as a starter product, ideal for those looking to try out a few exercises or those recovering from injury.

Opti Resistance bands Cheapest Price
ProductPrice CheckOriginal PriceDiscounted Price
OptiGTR price checkingFROM £13CLICK HERE
Read more customer reviews here – Review stars 5 out of 5 (73)

The Alternatives:

Opti Hip Resistance Bands Set of 2 Review

Opt Hip Set of two resistance bands

These bands are great for those who just want to target the lower body, with exercises such as Hip Band Squats, Lunges or Hip Thrusts. They come with a 14 and 16-inch band and are suitable for a max user weight of 100kg. 

They are well made, comfortable to use and durable. The only downside is that you’re limited to what exercises you can do, but for those looking to really work those glutes, for £17, they are a bargain. 

Opti Hip Resistance bands Cheapest Price
ProductPrice CheckOriginal PriceDiscounted Price
OptiGTR price checkingFROM £17CLICK HERE
Read more customer reviews here – Review stars 5 out of 5 (73)

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The LowdownSo you might be asking yourself, what are resistance bands? Well ask no more, we’ve got you covered. A resistance band is an elastic band used for strength training. They work by adding tension or resistance during exercise, which in turn makes it...Resistance Bands Review: Essential Exercises and our Top Picks