Resistance exercise bands aren’t just for rehabbing injuries. These 15- and 30-minute resistance band routines will get you stronger and leaner in 30 minutes or less.
By C.J. Logan
Workouts designed by Jim Ryno
You’d be surprised what can be accomplished with a single piece of rubber. We’re not talking about rehabbing an injury, working on mobility, or dominating a Pilates class. Better than that. Building muscle, getting stronger, bringing up your physique – all things one flat, thick, elastic exercise band can help you do.
The Benefits of Resistance Bands vs Free Weights
Same as with a barbell or dumbbell, only different. The linear variable resistance inherent to bands – where the resistance increases the more the band is stretched and the further you go in the range of motion – provides a training stimulus you can’t get with iron, and with less wear and tear on the joints.
“I’d put resistance band training right up there with any free-weight workout in terms of challenging the muscles and producing gains in size and strength,” says Jim Ryno, a personal trainer and owner of Iron House Gym in Alpine, New Jersey (Iron-House.co). “As an added bonus, the elastic resistance bands tend to put less strain on vulnerable joints like the knees, hips, and shoulders, but without sacrificing any intensity or load placed on the muscles. I generally use exercise bands in combination with other barbell, dumbbell, or machine exercises, but I can just as easily hit a great workout using nothing more than a rubber resistance band and get absolutely torched.”
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It only takes one set of resistance bands. Do you have room in your apartment, garage, or home gym for that? Yes, you do. You have room to store a set in your desk drawer, in fact. And best of all, resistance bands are highly affordable; you can get the highest-quality, most durable set of resistance bands on the market for less than $100 here.
When you get your set, pick one of the below Ryno-designed workouts, depending on how much time you have in your busy schedule. In 15 or 30 minutes, you’ll accomplish a better total-body strength, conditioning, and muscle-building workout than you ever thought imaginable with a single piece of rubber.
ONE-TOOL BAND WORKOUTS
Designed by Jim Ryno
The following workouts were designed to be performed with a heavy-duty resistance band. Some exercises call for an anchor – you can easily transform any door into a full gym's worth of angles and exercises with this door anchor – and one move (band-assisted pull-ups) calls for a pull-up bar, which is technically another “tool.” If you don’t have a pull-up bar available, do one-arm rows instead. On all movements, start with some tension on the band; don’t let it start loose.
After 3-5 minutes of dynamic stretching, perform all 3 sets of each exercise before moving on to the next. Rest 30 seconds between sets; between exercises, rest only as long as it takes you to set up for the next move.
Band-Assisted Pull-Up 3 x 10-12 reps*
Lateral “X” Walking 3 x 15-20 reps in each direction
One-Arm Chest Press 3 x 10-12 reps per side*
Power Jumps 3 x 25 reps
Pallof Press 3 x 10 reps per side
Upright Row 3 x 10-12 reps*
*On the third set, go to failure – as many reps as possible maintaining strict form.
Start with a 3-minute warm-up of light jogging or stair-climbing and dynamic stretching, then repeat the following circuit 2-3 times (or however many rounds you can do in 12 minutes):
Kneeling Hip Thrust x 15-20 reps
One-Arm Row x 15-20 reps per side
Front Squat x 15-20 reps
Band-Resisted Push-Up x 15-20 reps
Trunk Rotation x 15-20 reps per side
Rest 1 minute between rounds.
One-Arm Chest Press
Anchor the resistance band behind you at shoulder level and grab the other end of it in one hand. Step away from the anchor to create tension, and stagger your feet for stability. With your torso perpendicular with the floor, perform a chest press with one arm, stopping when your elbow is just shy of full lockout, your hand directly out in front of your shoulder. Repeat all reps with that arm, then switch arms.
Lateral “X” Walking
Step on one end of the resistance band with both feet, cross the exercise band in front of you to form an X, pull it up to chest height, and hold it there with both hands. Start with your feet spaced far enough apart to create tension. Step laterally with one foot, then bring the other foot over so your feet are at the original width. Repeat in the opposite direction – that’s one rep per side. Your other option is to keep stepping in the same direction (assuming you have the open space available) until all reps are complete, then repeat in the opposite direction.
Loop the resistance band over the pull-up bar and pull it down snug under your feet or over your knees. (Keep your knees bent to hold the band in place). With the resistance band in place, perform pull-ups with the same form as usual. For less assistance, loop the exercise band over just one knee instead of both. For more assistance, place the exercise band under your feet instead of the knees.
Anchor the resistance band behind you just above the floor and wrap the other end of it around the front of your waist. Step away from the anchor to create a small amount of tension and start in a slightly-leaned-forward athletic stance. From here, dip down at the hips and knees and perform a standing broad jump. Land gently with soft knees, then step or hop back to the start position and repeat.
Anchor the resistance band at about chest height, grab the opposite end of the band in both hands and step a few feet away from the anchor to create tension. Standing sideways to the anchor with a solid base (feet shoulder-width apart, knees soft), slowly extend your arms straight out in front of you, hold the arms extended position for one or two counts, then bend your elbows to bring your hands back to your chest. The key to this exercise is keeping your torso facing forward throughout; don’t let it twist toward the anchor (the band will want to pull you in that direction). Repeat all reps, then switch sides.
Stand on the resistance band with both feet and hold the top side of it in your hands. Start with your arms extended down in front of you, then perform an upright row to pull the band straight up your body until your hands are at upper chest level, just below your chin. To create more resistance, space your feet further apart.
Hold the resistance band in both hands in front you, then bring it overhead and behind you so that it runs across the middle of your back just below your shoulders with your elbows bent. From here, go down to the floor into a push-up position, keeping the band tense on your back so it doesn’t slip out of position. From here, perform push-ups with the same form as normal.
Kneeling Hip Thrust
Anchor the resistance band a few feet up from the floor, step inside of it, and secure the other end around the front of your waist (facing away from the anchor). Kneel on the floor and move forward to create tension on the resistance band. Start with your knees bend and butt on your heels, then contracts your glutes to extend your hips until your torso and thighs form a straight line down to the floor. Squeeze the glutes hard at the top.
Anchor the resistance band in front you at around lower chest height, grab the other end in one hand, and step away from the anchor to create tension. With a solid base, knees bent, and torso upright, pull the band to your side as you normally would with a dumbbell row. Keep your elbow in tight throughout. Repeat for reps, then switch sides.
Stand on the resistance band with both feet, spaced hip- to shoulder-width, and lift it up to wrap it around the tops of your shoulders. Lift your elbows and cross your forearms in front of each other (a common front squat arm position) to keep the exercise band in place. From here, perform a front squat just as you would with a barbell, keep your elbows up throughout and your weight over your heels.
Anchor the resistance band at around waist height, grab the opposite end of the band in both hands and step away from the anchor to create tension. Stand sideways to the anchor with a solid base, and extend your arms straight out in front of you. From here, slowly twist your torso until your arms are straight out to your side (the side away from the anchor). Reverse the motion to bring your hands back in front of you and toward the anchor. Maintain tension on the resistance band and keep your head facing forward throughout.