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Workouts for Women

Mix-and-Match Workout: Resistance Bands

An inexpensive set of bands turns this full-body workout into a strength-building session that’s easy on the joints.

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Don’t underestimate the power of rubber bands. Resistance bands offer what’s called linear variable resistance, in which the more the band is stretched, the greater the tension — which is why the very end of each rep throughout a resistance-band workout is so hard! This type of resistance follows the natural “strength curve” of your muscles (which are usually weaker at the beginning of a rep and stronger near the end), making bands a great tool for building strength while also being easier on the joints than heavy free weights.

The below resistance-band workout, designed by Shayla Rog, CPT, transformation coach and owner of Operation: Badass, will hit your entire posterior chain: glutes and hamstrings (via sumo deadlifts and pull-throughs), upper back and rear deltoids (pull-aparts), and lower lats (low rows). Your shoulders will get a nice workout, too, with a shoulder press/uppercut punch combo move.

You get all that in only 30 to 40 minutes and with an inexpensive set of resistance bands that can accommodate even the most cramped at-home gym setup.

Check out more installments of the Oxygen Mix-and-Match Workout series!

Bodyweight Warm-Up

Instructions: This is an “activation circuit” that Rog recommends doing at the start of all her mix-and-match workouts. Perform the below three exercises as a circuit (one after the other without resting), completing the circuit two times. Rog’s website offers video demonstrations of the three exercises (first three exercises shown).

Exercise Reps
Bird Dog 10 (each side)
Frog Pump 10
Arm Circles 10 (each way)

Mix-and-Match Resistance-Band Workout

Instructions: This workout requires just one loop-style resistance band. However, multiple bands of varying resistances are helpful. Resistance bands with handles on both ends can be used, as well. 

On supersets, go directly from the first exercise to the second without resting. After the second exercise in the pairing, rest 60 to 90 seconds and repeat the superset. After your third time through the superset, go straight to the next exercise (resistance-band sumo deadlift). 

Exercise Sets Reps
Resistance-Band Sumo Deadlift 1 20
Resistance-Band Shoulder Press to Uppercut Punch
— superset with —
Resistance-Band Pull-Apart*
3 12

15
Resistance-Band Sumo Deadlift 1 20
Resistance-Band Standing Low Row*
— superset with —
Resistance-Band Glute Pull-through*
3 15

15
Resistance-Band Sumo Deadlift 1 max reps

Do: Use a low, immovable base to anchor your band to on the second superset (low row/pull-through). A simple hack is to loop the band around a large towel on one end and slide it under a sturdy door. Shut the door and ensure you’re pulling in the direction the door does not open up to. 

Don’t: Go too fast on your reps when using bands. Stay under control on both the positive and negative portions of each rep. If you let the band snap back on the negative, you lose the benefits of its unique elastic resistance. 

Intensity Tip: Band resistance can be easily altered midset. If it feels too easy, step back from the anchor point or shorten the distance between your hands and the anchor to increase tension. If you start to fail before the prescribed rep count, step closer to the anchor or lengthen the distance to decrease tension and finish the set.

Exercises

Resistance-Band Sumo Deadlift

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Secure your band by wrapping the ends around each foot. Set up in a sumo position with your legs out wide and your toes pointed slightly outward. With a neutral spine, hinge at your hips and grab the middle of the band with an overhand grip (as you would with a barbell). Keeping your back flat, push through your heels and extend your hips to stand up, pulling the band with you. Focus on the contraction at the top. Return to the starting position by pushing your hips back and allowing your torso to lower. 

Resistance-Band Shoulder Press to Uppercut Punch

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Stand on the band with both feet to anchor it, grab it with both hands so there’s equal tension on either side, and start with your arms bent and hands just outside your shoulders. This is a two-part exercise: (1) Perform a shoulder press with your palms facing forward. (2) After lowering your hands back down, bring your arms in front of you so that your palms and forearms are facing you, and press straight up from there to full elbow extension. The second part is the “uppercut punch,” which is a similar motion to the “Arnold press.” One shoulder press and one uppercut punch equals one rep. 

This exercise also can be done one arm at a time, with the band under only one foot. If you have two of the same band, you can do both arms simultaneously in this manner. 

Resistance-Band Pull-Apart* 

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Hold a light band in both hands directly in front of you with your arms fully extended and shoulder-width apart. Make sure there’s no slack in the band in the start position. Contract your back and posterior shoulder muscles to pull your arms out to the sides and back. When your arms are straight out to your sides, squeeze your shoulder blades together for maximum contraction, then return to the start position under control. 

*To increase intensity, incorporate a three-second hold at peak contraction at the top of each rep. 

Resistance-Band Standing Low Row*

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Anchor a band to a stable structure in front of you at floor level. Grab the band in both hands so that there’s equal tension on either side, and step back from the anchor to create tension in the band. Start with your knees slightly bent, your chest up, your arms extended downward and in front of you, and your hands a few inches apart. Perform a row by contracting your back muscles to pull your hands to your navel. As you pull, turn your palms upward to enhance the contraction in your back muscles. At the top of the rep, your hands should be right at your sides, just above your hips. Squeeze the contraction, then slowly lower back down. Keep your body stationary throughout. 

*To increase intensity, incorporate a three-second hold at peak contraction at the top of each rep. 

Resistance-Band Glute Pull-Through*

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Using the same band and anchor point as with the low row (since the two exercises are supersetted), grab it in both hands and step over it so you’re facing away from the anchor with the band running between your legs. Take a few steps forward to put tension on the band. Start in an upright position, holding the band with your hands together and your arms extended down in front of you. Initiate the movement by pushing your hips back to “hinge,” letting your torso drop down toward the floor; your knees can bend somewhat, but keep your legs relatively straight (à la stiff-legged deadlift). When your torso reaches roughly parallel with the floor and you feel a stretch in your hamstrings, contract your glutes and hams to reverse the motion and return to the upright position. 

*To increase intensity, incorporate a three-second hold at peak contraction at the top of each rep. 

Check out the rest of the Oxygen Mix-and-Match workouts here.