Dumbbells and barbells get a lot of love, but the humble resistance band is the underrated piece of workout equipment that can help you build strength anywhere, anytime.
"Resistance bands are easy to take anywhere if you're traveling or don't have access to a gym or weights," says Peter Marino, CPT, certified personal trainer and owner of Posh Fitness, an online personal training platform. And, compared to other weight-training tools, they can cause less strain on your wrists and "offer higher resistance at the peak of your exercise contraction," he says, which helps build strength.
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"They may also improve flexibility while improving strength," Marino says, referring to a small March 2019 study in the Journal of Sports Science and Medicine that assessed 23 rugby players and found a resistance band training program improved both their flexibility and mobility.
Resistance bands are also incredibly versatile (not to mention fairly inexpensive). You can add them to your favorite body-weight exercises to increase the intensity, mimic some of your favorite exercise machines at home or even keep them at your desk for an active break at work.
If you're new to resistance band training, there can be a bit of a learning curve: You may need to test out different types and resistance levels to find what works best for you and experiment with adding them to your favorite exercises.
But that's why we created this program! The LIVESTRONG.com team partnered with Marino to host the 4-Week Resistance Band Challenge to help you get comfortable with bands and build full-body strength in a month.
How the Resistance Band Challenge Works
We're starting Wednesday, February 1, 2023 — but you can begin any time you'd like. For this muscle-building resistance band challenge, Marino created four different resistance band workouts that target different muscles.
Each week you'll complete different workouts on Wednesdays, Thursdays, Saturdays, Sundays and Mondays. You'll enjoy rest days on Fridays and Tuesdays. (Keep scrolling for more details!) Here's what each week will look like:
The Challenge Calendar
Get a printer-friendly version of the challenge calendar here.
You'll repeat the workouts listed above over the course of the four weeks. Every time you repeat a workout, you'll increase the number of reps or sets you do:
- Week 1: 1 set
- Week 2: 2 sets
- Week 3: 2 sets, aiming for more reps than Week 2
- Week 4: 3 sets
For most of the exercises, you'll be given a rep range, such as 10 to 15 reps. During Week 2, try for the lower end of the range. Then, in Week 3, aim for the higher end.
How to Join the Resistance Band Challenge
1. Print and/or Save Your Challenge Calendar
2. Gather Your Gear
The only thing you'll need for this challenge is a set of resistance bands, including mini loops and long bands. You may want a few sets of varying resistance so you can do different exercises with different levels of resistance, depending on your fitness level. (You might also want a yoga mat, water bottle and towel for sweat.)
You've got a few options for the bands you use:
- Mini-loop resistance bands are mainly great for glute work, though they can also be incorporated into some ab and upper-body exercises.
- Long-loops bands are incredibly versatile, as you can anchor them under your feet then loop them around your shoulders for lower-body exercises or grab the ends with your hands for upper-body moves.
- Resistance bands with handles are easier to hold and are softer on the hands for those who may have arthritis or a similar condition. They're most convenient for upper-body workouts.
Shop Our Favorite Resistance Bands
Mini Loop Bands
Bands With Handles
Always check your bands for rips, tears, cracks and other wear, which can leave them prone to snapping and hurting you mid-workout. If your bands are old or worn down, consider purchasing a new set.
3. Join Our Challenge Facebook Group
Our community of more than 56,000 members is here to support and motivate you through this challenge. Tell the group how the day's routine went, post a photo or video of your resistance band workout or share your favorite meme or motivational quote.
4. Start Your Resistance Band Workouts
On Day 1 of the challenge — Wednesday, February 1, 2023 — get started with the Chest, Triceps and Core workout. Check out the links below for details on each of the four routines:
5. Add in Low-Intensity Cardio
This challenge is filled with strength-building resistance band exercises, but it's important to incorporate some low-intensity cardio to keep your body moving without adding a ton of stress.
Your Saturday cardio days not only bring variety, they give you the chance to do a workout you already know you love. But if you're not sure where to start, you can try yoga or stretching, tai chi, walking or hiking, swimming or leisurely riding a bike or jogging.
You'll increase the amount of cardio you do every week:
- Week 1: 25 minutes
- Week 2: 30 minutes
- Week 3: 35 minutes
- Week 4: 40 minutes
Here are some more ideas for low-intensity cardio workouts to try:
6. Enjoy Your Rest Days
Friday and Tuesday rest days are just as important as the active days of this challenge. That's because your muscles repair and grow stronger on your days off. So working in two full rest days each week gives your brain and body a break.
You can always take more time off if you need a break or do light cardio like walking or hiking if you're eager for more activity — listen to your body.
Check out these ideas for how to spend your rest days:
7. Celebrate Your Success
You made it to the end of the 4-Week Resistance Band Challenge! Take some time to appreciate that accomplishment — and let us know how it went in our Challenge Facebook Group.
When you're ready, keep your momentum going with a new challenge:
You can do any of our challenges on your own whenever you want, or you can visit our Challenges page to see what we have planned for the full year.
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