4-WEEK RESISTANCE BAND CHALLENGE TO HELP YOU MOVE BETTER
Share a very practical training article about resistance bands.
THE PATH OF LEAST RESISTANCE
Transform your living quarters into a muscle-firing gym with just a resistance band – and a willingness to ride the burn.
There’s no piece of kit more lockdown appropriate than the resistance band – versatile, small, lightweight and, if used in the right way, ready to fire up your muscles to their full fat-burning potential. Happily, most people have one gathering dust in a drawer somewhere or managed to get their hands on one online once lockdown hit, and acquiring a pair of dumbbells became more challenging than deadlifting double your body weight.
‘The effectiveness of any exercise is dependent on your ability to move at a joint level and control this movement,’ says Dr. Ailish McLaughlin, who has a Ph.D. in exercise physiology and is a personal trainer at London’s The Foundry. ‘Resistance bands can be really useful for training joint motion and control, and can
help to strengthen a greater range of motion,’ she says.This is because the band allows for specific/isolated joint movement, which may get missed out during traditional, more complex exercises that involve multiple joint actions and muscle groups. ‘You can get better control and strength within those isolated
motions,’ adds Dr. McLaughlin. ‘This can be a really effective training stimulus for getting stronger and moving better.’ Not too shabby at all. With that in mind, Dr. McLaughlin has developed this exclusive four-week band challenge to help you move better, get fitter and have more energy. You’ll do three resistance workouts a week, supplementing with stretching, walking, jogging, HIIT, and breathwork or meditation sessions on off days for a well-rounded lifestyle plan.
These sessions are beginner-friendly
‘The workouts are designed so that you can work at your own level and pace,’ says Dr. McLaughlin. ‘They
increase in volume week on week, so you push and progress as you start to move better and get fitter.’
If it hurts, stop
People with injuries should avoid any of the exercises that cause pain, adds Dr. McLaughlin. ‘In particular, people with lower back injuries should be cautious and may benefit from doing some of the exercises or workouts without resistance, just using their body weight instead.
If you’re pregnant, skip the core-based exercises in workout three, and listen to your body – if you feel uncomfortable, don’t do the move.
WORKOUT 1 LOWER BODY
Perform this workout as a circuit(5 moves = 1 circuit).
If you’re a beginner, go for 3 rounds of the circuit, if you’re advanced, try 5. Give yourself a 90-sec break in between each round. You’ll level up your ‘work’ time in each set every week
Week 1: 30secs work, 30secs rest Week 2: 40secs work, 30secs rest
Week 3: 50secs work, 30secs rest Week4: 60 secs work, 30secs rest
1 | BAND HIP THRUST
Targets: Glutes, hamstrings, lower back
(a) Rest your back against a bench, or stable chair or table, and loop the band just above your knees. Hover your bum a few inches off the floor. Push through your heels and squeeze your bum to raise your hips until they’re in line with your knees.
(b) Lower back down, then raise your hips and lift your left leg with the knee bent at 90°, until your chin is parallel to the floor. Lower, then repeat all steps on the right.
2 | SIDESTEP
Targets: Abductors, glutes
(a) Stand with your feet hip-width apart and the resistance band looped around your ankles. Bend your knees slightly.
(b) Keeping your chest up, step to the side so your feet are slightly wider than shoulder-width apart. Pause, then step the other foot in to return to the starting position. Walk-in this direction for 5 steps, then switch sides. Keep going until your work time is up. Try to stay as tall as possible – this will prevent you from using your back instead of your legs.
3 | LATERAL BAND WALK
Targets: Abductors, glutes
(a) Place a resistance band just above your knees, then stand with your feet slightly wider than hip-width apart.
(b) Slightly bend at the knee, take a large step to your left with your left foot, then follow with the right, keeping tension in the resistance band. Walk-in this direction for 5 steps before switching sides. Keep going until your work time is up.
4 | MINI BAND KNEES IN AND OUT
Targets: Glutes, hamstrings, quads, core
(a) Lie on your back with a resistance band above your knees and your feet planted on the ground, shoulder-width apart.
(b) Lift your hips up to form a straight line from your knees to your shoulders. Engage your abs and glutes by widening your knees slightly, pushing against the band. Keeping your hips up, bring your knees together again, then push them apart. Keep going, without dropping your knees.
5 | MINI BAND HOLD
Targets: Glutes, core
(a) Lie on your back with a resistance band just above your knees and your feet planted on the ground,shoulder-width apart.
(b) Raise your hips up to form a straight line from your knees to your shoulders – make sure you don’t arch your back. Engage your abs and glutes by widening your knees slightly to place tension on the band and hold. Don’t forget to breathe.
WORKOUT 2 UPPER BODY
Perform this workout as a circuit(6 moves = 1 circuit). Go for 3 rounds, with 90secs’
rest between exercises, and 2 mins between rounds
Week 1: 3 rounds Week 2: 4 rounds Week 3: 5 rounds Week4: 6 rounds
1 | SHOULDER PRESS
Targets: Shoulders, triceps, upper back
Do: 10 reps on each side
(a) Stand with your feet hip-width apart, with one end of a resistance band under your right foot and holding the other end in your right hand at shoulder height, elbow pointing out to the side.
(b) Brace your core, then press your hand directly overhead until your arm is fully extended. Pause at the top, then slowly lower back down to the starting position. Keep that core tight to minimize wobble.
2 | MOTORCYCLE ROW
Targets: Upper back
Do: 15 reps on each side
Tie a resistance band around a pillar, stair rail, or heavy, stable piece of furniture. Stand facing the pillar, with your feet shoulder-width apart, left leg in front. With your right hand, grab the band. Hinge at your hips, with both knees bent, and pull the resistance band to your body for 15 reps, then swap sides and repeat.
3 | PRESS-UP
Targets: Chest, shoulders, triceps
Do: 8 reps
(a) Pull the resistance band across your shoulder blades and hold the ends in each hand. Get down into a press-up position.
(b) Slowly lower until your chest almost touches the floor, then push back up. If you can’t perform a full press-up, just focus on slowing down the lowering (eccentric) phase as much as you can, allow your chest to hit the floor, and then use your knees to come back up and reset.
4 | BAND PULL-APART
Targets: Upper back
Do: 15 reps
(a) Stand with your feet together, holding a resistance band up at shoulder height, arms straight out in front of you and shoulder-width apart.
(b) Pull your arms wide and down so they come in line with your body. Focus on squeezing your shoulder blades together. Liftback up to the starting position and repeat. It gets tougher with every rep.
5 | HARD PLANK BAND ROW
Targets: Back, shoulders, chest, abs, hip flexors, quads
Do: 6 reps on each side
(a) Attach your resistance band to a table leg or similar. Get into a press-up position with your forearms on the ground, back straight.
(b) Grab the resistance band with your left hand, arm straight. Pull it into your body with rowing action, then lengthen back out. Repeat 6 times while holding your plank. Reset and rest for a few secs when your reps are complete, and then get back into plank position and row with the right arm. This one’s a real killer.
6 | LATERAL SHUFFLE
Targets: Obliques, shoulders, adductors, abs
Do: 8 reps on each side
(a) Tie a resistance band to a post and stand with your feet together, holding an end in each hand, arms out, knees and elbows slightly bent.
(b) Step to the right with your right foot, then follow with your left. Take another 3 or 4 steps, then move back. That’s one rep.
WORKOUT 3 FULL-BODY CHALLENGE
Set a timer for 30 mins and do as many rounds as possible within that time, resting as often as you need to.
Record how many rounds and reps you get through and, each week, see if you can increase the number.
1 | SQUAT AND ROW
Targets: Quads, hamstrings, glutes, back
Do: 12 reps
(a) Tie the resistance band to a post and hold both ends in front of you. Stand with your feet just wider than shoulder-width apart.
(b) Squat and extend your arms out in front of you as you come down, releasing tension in the band. As you come back up, pull the band back into your chest, keeping your elbows close to your body. That’s one rep.
2 | DEADBUG
Do: 6 reps on each side
(a) Lie with your legs in tabletop position and your arms extended above your chest, holding the band in your hands.
(b) Keeping your chin tucked, neck in a neutral position, and lower back in contact with the floor, slowly lower your left arm and right leg to the floor. Reverse to bring them both back up to the center and then repeat with the opposite arm and leg.
3 | PRESS-UP AND ROW
Targets: Chest, back, shoulders, triceps
Do: 8 reps
(a) Start in a press-up position with your knees on the floor. Shift your weight forwards onto your hands and engage your core. Place the band around your hands.
(b) Lower down until your chest almost touches the floor, then push back up. At the top, row your right arm up, keeping your elbow close to your body, followed by your left arm. That’s one rep. Try to keep your hips in line with your knees and shoulders.
4 | WALL SIT BICEP CURL
Targets: Glutes, quads, hamstrings, biceps
Do: 12 reps (hips parallel with knees)
(a) With the band under your feet, sit against a wall in a squat. Your back should be pressed into the wall and your legs bent at 90°. Hold the other end of the band in your hands.
(b) Hold the squat position and pull the band up towards your collar bone to complete 12 bicep curls, trying to keep your upper arms as still as possible. Don’t drop until you finish the set. Feel. That. Burn.
5 | TRICEP PUSH-DOWN
Do: 12 reps
(a) Loop your band around a stair rail or door, preferably just above your head. Hold one end in each hand in front of you, with your bent elbows tucked into your sides.
(b) Stabilise your core and pull the band down, so that your hands come just past your hips. Return to the starting position, keeping your elbows tucked. That’s one.
6 | BODYWEIGHT REVERSE LUNGE
Targets: Quads, glutes, hamstrings
Do: 12 reps each side
(a) Drop the resistance band for this one. Start with your feet hip-distance apart, then step back onto the ball of your right foot, bending at the knee until your left thigh is parallel to the floor.
(b) Return to the starting position, then repeat on the left leg. Simple, eh?
7 | SIDE PLANK
Targets: Glutes, abductors, adductors, obliques
Do: 20 secs on each side
(a) Lie on your left side with your left forearm on the floor, left elbow under your shoulder with your legs extended, feet stacked. Comfortable?
(b) Lift your hips to form a straight line from head to feet. Engage your core to hold for 20 secs before dropping and repeating on the right.