Resistance bands have been the hero of at-home workouts this year. But if you're not using them properly, you might as well be sticking to body-weight exercises rather than waste your time with poor form.
If you're taking the time to train, it's important that you know how to use the equipment you have on hand, limited though that might be right now. Resistance bands are great for activation, resistance, balance and targeting smaller muscles, so it's well worth the time to get to know them a little better before busting out reps.
Here are four resistance band exercises people often perform incorrectly and how to fix your form to get the maximum benefit.
1. Lat Pulldown With Resistance Band
- Start kneeling and hold one end of the band in each hand.
- Raise your arms overhead, biceps near your ear.s
- Draw your elbow and the band down and back, as if placing it in your back pocket.
- Allow the band to draw back up to center but do so with control.
The traditional lat pulldown is a vertical pull that targets the muscles of the upper back and is usually performed on a machine at the gym. But when you're substituting a resistance band, you need to make a few adjustments.
First off, you'll need to leave one arm in the air as the other pulls or attach the center to an anchor point above your head to mimic the machine movement. Another common mistake is not stabilizing your shoulder blades. They should stay back and down the spine.
You also want to make sure you're drawing your elbows back and down and keeping tension in the band as you release back up to the starting position.
2. Banded Inchworm
- Start standing with your feet hip-width apart and the resistance band looped around your wrists.
- Draw your lower abs in as you bend at your hips and place your hands on the ground.
- Crawl your hands out in front of you until you reach a high plank.
- Perform a push-up, bending your elbows at a 45-degree angle to your body and lowering your body toward the ground.
- Walk your hands back toward your feet and stand up.
Adding a resistance band to the inchworm increases the recruitment of your shoulder muscles so you'll really feel the burn! But a common mistake people make is dipping the hips in the high plank.
Squeeze your glutes and draw your belly in to stabilize your core and prevent your lower back from arching. Also make sure your wrists are stacked underneath your shoulders and your weight presses back into your heels.
3. Banded Monster Walk
- Loop the band around your ankles.
- Start in a semi-squat position with your hips back and your weight in the heels.
- Moving laterally (side to side), squeeze your glutes and step your foot out.
- Keep tension in the band as the other foot follows.
- Continue "walking" to one side for about 10 yards or as far as your workout space allows.
- Once you reach the other side, repeat, moving back to the side you began on.
For this exercise, resistance bands target smaller glute stabilizer muscles — the gluteus minimus and medius. These muscles are responsible for maintaining proper function of your lower body while walking and running in order to prevent injuries at the hip, knee and ankle.
However, common mistakes people make with the monster walk are not pushing the hips far back enough in a seated position (think about sitting back into a chair), not engaging the glutes before stepping out (squeeze your booty!) and not keeping tension in the band (make sure the feet never touch).
4. Banded Clamshell
- Lie on your side with your band looped around your knees. Place your feet together.
- Squeezing your side glute/hip, lift your knee up a few inches. You shouldn't feel anything in your lower back, hamstrings or hips. But you will feel a slight burning sensation once the glute begins to activate.
- Lower the knee back down and repeat.
Most people perform the clamshell incorrectly. To perform this move correctly, keep the hips forward and the heels of the feet together. Move from your glutes and don't just throw the knees open. When you do this exercise correctly, you'll feel an activation (burning) on the side of your glutes/hips.