Let’s face it, sometimes the last thing you want to do is get your crap together and go to the gym. It’s still packed full of New Years Resolutions and there is wayyyyyyyy more fun things to do elsewhere. Like drink coffee and read…which is NOT what I’m craving right now.
Anywho, whether out of pure laziness or a because of a legitimate reason, getting to the gym to work out isn’t always an option. When these types of shenanigans happen there is still bodyweight exercises (own link?) and sprinting that can be done to make sure you don’t regress on the scale of sexiness.
Today I’m going to give you another weapon to have in your arsenal to combat days like these. Resistance bands.
Resistance band training is another way to get a in a workout when you can’t get to the gym.
Resistance bands are mostly used in powerlifting for accommodating resistance (ie. making a lift harder at the strong point and easy at the weak point) and pilates…I think. Never been in a pilates class myself, but I did buy some bands from Target that had “Pilates Bands” splayed across the box, so by the power of deductive reason pilates must use bands for something-or-other.
The big one is used for stretching and stronger movements like squats and push ups. The smaller one is used for band walks, pull-a-parts and other things the big one is too much for.
These things rock because they easily fit in my bag and I can take them to the gym, but more importantly so I can travel with them. Nothing is worse than being forced to travel for work and getting stuck in some po-dunk town or a just plain shitty hotel that has a stationary bike in a room labeled as a their “Gym”.
When things like this happen, my go to resistance band workout is squats, pushups and pull-a-parts. These three exercises will cover all of the major muscles and let me get in a damn good workout when short on time and/or equipment.
Resistance Band Training: Squats
Squats will hit the entire lower body and even a bit of the core. Take your bad and stand on it with a shoulder width stance. Loop the other end around your shoulders in the same position that you would place the bar if doing barbell back squats. Just like a regular squat, break at the hips and then the knees as the lower yourself. Make sure your upper leg is at or below parallel and then stand back up. If your band is too light you can adjust the resistance by taking a wider stance on the band, then sliding your feet to shoulder width.
Resistance Band Training: Pushups
Pushups will work the majority of your upper body, that’s why we choose them and paired them with squats. Loop the band around your torso so it is just underneath your armpits. Grab the band as close to your body as possible so there is resistance in every phase of the push up. Now just do a regular pushup. If just placing the band between your hands and the floor doesn’t keep it in place you can grab it in a fist and do push ups on your fist. These hurt your knuckles a bit if you’re new to them, but after a few sets the discomfort goes away.
Resistance Band Training: Pull-A-Parts
So far, the only part of the body that we haven’t worked much is the back. If you have a place where you can do pull-ups then you better be doing them. If not, we can still use the resistance band to work your back. Pull-a-aparts are going to work the muscles of your upper back, which help keep you from slouching over and will help balance out the tight chest that most people have. Grab the band with a shoulder width grip and directly in front of you. Pull the band apart, keeping your arms locked out and parallel to the ground, until your arms are straight out to your sides. Move your arms back in front of you and make sure you don’t just let the band pull them. Control the movement and move somewhat slowly.
Do each exercise for 3-6 sets of 8-20 reps. This isn’t going to get you from overweight and pudgy to Mr. Olympia ready, so don’t expect much in terms of strength or mass gains. It is a way to stay active and get some training in when you have less than ideal resources around, so don’t be afraid to get some work in even though you’re out of your regular training environment.