Working out at home is getting a bit old. But it’s what we have to do right now, but adding a little variety into your sessions can help with keeping you motivated and add a slightly different stimulus to help you to continue to make progress until the gyms reopen.
Today I’ve got a few exercises using a band to help you make the most out of what might be quite limited equipment. For example, I have a 24kg KB and a couple of resistance bands, which massively changes the amount of loading that I have to work with while I’m not in the gym. And while going with higher reps on exercises is a good option, you can only go so high before it gets pretty old.
Adding a band into the mix, to add some extra tension on some exercises is a great way to increase tension and mechanical loading. One thing to be noted about using bands is that they tend to provide the heaviest loading at the point where you are strongest. For eaxmple, on a band row, you are strongest in the “pull” position, that’s also where the band is pulled tightest and therefore offers the biggest loading. This can be a blessing and a curse. On one hand you can effectively overload a portion of the movement and get a bit more work done, but it limits you from getting stronger through a full range of movement.
But since we are working out at home, with minimal equipment and loading, we’re not worrying about optimal and focussing on getting something, anything, done to keep us making some kind of progress.
Banded squeeze press
The squeeze press is great pressing option to hit the front of the shoulders, chest and triceps. With your elbows in closer to your sides you don’t get the flared wide elbow position that can cause shoulder issues in a lot of folks, and the constant horizontal pressing to hold the load in place makes your chest burn.
Adding a band into the mix adds extra loading at the top of the movement, challenging your triceps to lock out your elbows against more load, making this a wickedly effective exercise.
I like this one for time rather than reps, so aim for sets of around 30s.
Banded bentover 1 arm rows
As mentioned in the intro, the band tension is greatest in the pull position, loading more at the top than at the bottom. While you lose out on the extra load at the bottom, you get 2 benefits that make it worthwhile:
- The increased load makes you work harder to maintain a strong, stable torso against the twisting force.
- You get great feedback through your lats that you are getting the right position on the row.
Banded knee extensions
This is a great option if you want to pre-fatigue your quads before a set of squats or lunges. As a bonus you get some shoulder stability work and upper back extension thrown into the mix. If getting into position is too challenging, you can raise you hands up onto a couple of chairs and still get a great effect. Or you can try the next option on the list…
Banded frog squats
This is another way to target the quads. The frog squat is basically a leg extension and adding the band in loads up more as you get closer to full extension. It also takes out the need for as much upper back extension.
The banded deadlift movement can be done as a full deadlift (touching the floor on each rep) or as an RDL. The band loads you up more at the top and less at the bottom, so could also be a good option if you have a grumpy low back, as it adds resistance as you get into a stronger position. I also find with these that you can feel the hamstrings a lot more so it helps clients feel when they are in a good position.
As with all of these exercise variations, they may not be optimal from a loading perspective, but they do give a little more variety to help keep things moving forwards.