Rubber bands are a great tool to use for strength training, because they increase muscle and build strength when used in a wide variety of exercises. Research published in the November 2002 issue of "Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research" suggests that rubber bands are just as effective as free weights.
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Upper Body Exercises
It is easy to work biceps and triceps with rubber bands. To perform a biceps curl, stand on the band while holding an end in each hand. Take up any slack in the band. Curl the hands towards the shoulders. For more resistance, stand with the feet further apart. Work the triceps by standing on the band with your right foot. Hold the other end with your left hand and keep your arm at a 90-degree angle. Take up any slack in the band. Bend your right knee, step back with your left leg and hinge forward. While keeping your elbow close to your side, press your forearm back towards the hip. Do 12 to 15 repetitions of each exercise.
Lower Body Exercises
Train your lower body with squats and bridges. Stand on the band with your feet wider than your shoulders and hold an end in each hand. Take up any slack in the band. Keep hands at shoulder level. Lower into a squat and then return to the start position. Repeat 12 times. Target your glutes and hamstrings with a bridge. Lie on your back with the knees bent and the feet flexed and shoulder-width apart. Lift hips into a bridge position. Position the band tightly over your hips. Hold the ends of the band and pull your hands to the floor while you are in bridge position. Lower and lift your hips 15 times.
Train Multiple Muscle Groups
You can stack your exercises, like you would when working with dumbbells, to target more muscles at the same time. Stacking exercises, such as squats with an over head press or a rotating lunge and row, will torch more calories, too. To do a squat and press, perform the squat as suggested earlier but as you stand, press your arms over your head. This way you work your lower and upper body simultaneously.
Progress Your Training
Bump up the challenge by pairing rubber bands with free weights. Try doing a one- legged squat with a shoulder press. Tie the ends of your rubber bands to the dumbbells and hold the dumbbells. Stand with one foot on the band and the other foot lifted behind you a few inches away from the floor. Lower into a slight squat and press your arms upward into a shoulder press while holding your dumbbells. The addition of dumbbells allows you to feel continuous resistance on both the lift and lowering phase of the movement.