Elastic workout bands are lengths of rubber tubing useful for strength training or injury rehabilitation. Also known as resistance bands or exercise bands, elastic workout bands may consist of a continuous loop of elastic material or may feature open ends, either with or without handles. Bands are available in a variety of resistance levels. The American College of Sports Medicine suggests selecting an exercise band that allows you to perform a given exercise with a smooth motion while still challenging your targeted muscle group.
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Upper Body Exercises
Elastic workout band exercises not only help strengthen the muscles of your upper body but may also improve your muscular endurance. The triceps extension, using a resistance band, increases the strength of your triceps and forearms. Upright rows with an exercise band offer similar strength and endurance benefits, with a focus on your bicep, shoulder and trapezius muscles. Other upper body exercises include the standing chest press, pullover and shoulder press.
Lower Body Exercises
The adaptable nature of elastic workout bands allows you to tailor them to your fitness needs. Start with bands of a lower resistance and gradually work your way up as your strength improves, recommends the American Council on Exercise. The resistance level also depends on the muscles you exercise. Lower body exercises that use large muscle groups - such as lunges targeting quads, glutes and hamstrings, or standing hip flexion focusing on quads and glutes - may require bands of a high resistance to adequately work these muscles. Add leg flexion, hip adduction, inversion and other exercises to provide a full lower body workout.
Core and Back Exercises
Core exercises, those that target your abdominals and lower back, benefit from the added intensity of resistance bands. For example, crunches, woodchops and seated twists, when performed with an exercise band, work your abs and engage the muscles of your lower back for stabilization to a greater extent than exercises you practice with body weight alone. Elastic workout bands may also help strengthen your mid- and upper-back muscles. Lat pull downs, exercise band pullovers and seated rows target your lats and your rhomboids.
In addition to strength and endurance exercises, elastic workout bands offer the ability to assist you with flexibility exercises. For instance, improve the range of motion of your wrist joint by alternating wrist flexion and wrist extension exercises. With one end of the band secured under your foot, grasp the other end in your hand with your palm facing up. Slowly rotate your palm toward your face until you feel the stretch. Practice wrist extension by performing the exercise with your palm facing downward and rotating the back of your hand toward your face.