3 Ways You Can Still Use Your Resistance Bands In The Gym
Just cos the gyms are reopening, doesn’t mean you need to abandon those trusty resistance bands! From warming up, to activating certain muscles ahead of a heavy lifting sesh, online fitness coach Georgie Harris has shared the ways in which you can still work your bands into your fitness regime, in and outside the gym!
“Gyms will soon be reopening (yay!) and with many of us now used to working out with our resistance bands at home, we’re sharing a few ways you can not only put your bands to good use, but how they can and should become an essential part of your gym routine.
How to activate muscles with exercise bands
Hopefully by now you know how important it is to mobilise and warm up before embarking on an epic weight session, but something that people tend to neglect is the importance of activating your muscles too. We essentially need to ‘switch on’ the muscles prior to use to establish that mind-muscle connection (i.e. think about the muscles we are working) and ensure that the right muscles are fired up for our first working set. Here’s an example of how to use your short resistance bands to activate:
How to activate your glutes with banded side steps
Glutes are a really important muscle to activate before any lower body work. If you spend a lot of time sitting at a desk, then your glutes tend to switch off and become inactive. The banded sidestep exercise is a sure fire way to get those glutes activated and, if performed correctly, you’ll feel the burn!
Place your mini band around your feet (or around your knees if you need an easier version). While keeping the band under tension, step sideways one foot at a time for a few reps before stepping back the other way. Your chest should be kept upright, knees slightly bent and core engaged. By placing the band around your feet, you really have to think about keeping your toes facing forward and do not let them turn in to significantly increase activation. If you opt for the knee position, again, is it essential that the knees don’t cave in or it won’t be as effective. Aim for about 15-20 reps. Band walk exercises are just one of many gym band exercises - for more ideas, give this How To Use Resistance Bands post a read!
How to use gym bands to intensify weight training
As we get back into our gym routines, it’s really important to ease ourselves in and slowly apply progressions. Going straight from doing banded exercises to heavy barbell lifts can be too much of jump so it’s important to work up in stages. Taking your bands to the gym and slowly adding a new form of a resistance training is the perfect way to intensify some standard exercises you would perform in a gym. Try using your long bands like this:
How to do a Resistance Banded Kettlebell Sumo Deadlift:
Deadlifts are a staple when it comes to working your lower body (glutes and hammies specifically), so to progress what you might have been doing at home, try adding a kettlebell to your banded deadlift. The combination of a weight and band not only increases the resistance, but it keeps your muscles under tension for longer. When performing a deadlift with just a weight, you get a momentary pause at the top of the deadlift (standing position) but when incorporating a band, this ensures tension is applied throughout the movement.
To do this, place a kettlebell between your feet and run the band through the handle. Place a foot in each end of the band and take your feet out to a wide stance position with your toes facing out slightly. Keeping a straight back, bend your knees and grab hold of the KB with both hands and stand up. From here, brace the abs, hinge at the hips, sending your bum backwards. With a slight bend in the knees, keep the KB close to the centre line of your body as your chest lowers. Keep your shoulders back and neck in line with your spine. Hinge until you feel a nice stretch in your hamstrings then return to your standing position and squeeze your glutes at the top.
How to use resistance bands to assist gym workouts
Bands are normally seen as a tool to increase resistance (as discussed above) but they can also be a great way to regress exercises. Adding in resistance bands is the perfect way to ease you back into the gym and help strengthen your muscles without going from zero to 100. Try this is if you have long bands:
How to do an assisted pull up with resistance bands
Unless you are lucky enough to own a pull bar at home (I’m not sure I trust those things anyway!) one exercise you may have neglected at home is your pull ups! I’m sure you are raring to get going again but, after taking a few months off, don’t be disheartened if you can’t hit nearly as many reps as you used to. Adding a band will allow you to get those reps and strengthen your muscles before working up to unassisted pull ups.
To perform an assisted pull up, attach your band to a high bar, maybe on a squat rack or rig and use a step to reach up to the bar. Place one foot (or a knee to make it a little harder) and grab hold of the bar with your hands a little wider than shoulder width apart facing forward. Once in a hanging position, draw your shoulder blades together and down then lift yourself up until your chin is above the bar. Keep you core engaged to limit any swing and slowly lower yourself down to the start position. The band should by no means make it easy, it just makes it more possible. As you progress, opt for a band with less resistance until you are ready to try unassisted pull ups again.”
So, who’s bringing along their resistance bands for that first sweat session back in the gym?! If you’re still loving working out from the comfort of your own home, Georgie’s resistance band workout is sure to raise that heart rate and get those muscles working – give it a go!
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