There are many ways to supplement your at-home workouts, with exercise mats, dumbbells and free weights, and yoga blocks being some of the most popular. But as the pandemic closed down gyms and changed home fitness setups, even more types of equipment have become staples for home workouts. The rise of the resistance band is one that we’re particularly excited about because of all the benefits they offer, not to mention the ease of portability and minimal space they require to store. And with Every Mother’s new resistance band exercises, along with the launch of our superior-quality bands, we’re here to show you some of our favorite moves with this versatile tool!
What Resistance Bands Do
Resistance bands distribute resistance and work the muscles through a larger range of motion than hand weights—which are dependent on the body’s relationship to gravity—and cause muscles to contract through the increased tension. The more the tension increases, the greater the resistance and level of exertion becomes. Take a bicep curl, for example. A taut band works the muscle through the entire range of motion while weights only work the muscles during a fraction of it.
Resistance bands also help you build up your progress through increased resistance, just as you would by going up in heavier weights but with a much less likelihood of injury and overexertion.
Why We Like Them
Resistance bands are the most portable piece of exercise equipment available—you can’t easily cart around a set of dumbbells! They are super lightweight, and can travel with you wherever you go. Making it easy to workout anytime, anywhere. They are ideal for both indoor and outdoor workouts, and one set of bands offers an impressive range of workout levels.
These bands also make easy work of otherwise challenging bodyweight exercises. For example, a resistance band allows “pull” exercises like a traditional pull-up to be more accessible for your desired number of repetitions. They can be looped or tied to an existing chin-up bar where you can use either your feet or knees to work with the band’s assistance.
In addition to enhancing strength workouts, resistance band exercises aid in therapeutic stretching. They can be used to warm up before your workout and afterwards as a cool-down. They offer gentle lengthening movement of your limbs, especially commonly injured areas such as your neck and spine, and make it easy to control the amount of stretching they provide.
The 5 Best Resistance Band Exercises
- Stretch the band across the chest, keeping ribs anchored in neutral (not flaring the lower rib cage open).
- Roll the shoulders down the back, away from the ears.
- While keeping the elbows at a fixed angle just shy of straight, exhale and draw your abs toward the spine as you stretch the band slightly back and down in a diagonal direction.
- Inhale between reps.
- Repeat for up to 30 seconds, then place the opposite foot forward and complete a second set.
This move is great for opening the collar bones and upper chest, and strengthening the upper back; it corrects posture imbalances (rounded upper back) that are common postpartum. It’s especially handy to do a couple of sets to restore neutral posture after each feeding session (bottle or breast). The core and breathing coordination of this exercise also helps heal diastasis recti.
- Extend one hand overhead, keeping your elbow near the ear and ribs anchored in neutral.
- Inhale as you bend the elbow, then exhale and flatten your abs toward the spine as you extend the arm toward the sky.
- Repeat for up to 30 seconds, and then switch feet and perform a second set.
This move safely lengthens the core and upper body while improving posture. Exhaling and engaging the abs toward the spine with each rep helps heal DR.
- Take a breath to prepare, and then exhale and draw your navel up and into the spine as you draw your arms alongside your body, pulling the band slightly behind the lower ribs.
- Keep the ribs anchored in neutral throughout.
- Inhale between reps, and repeat slow and controlled rowing for 30 seconds. Perform two sets.
This works the posterior (back) muscles, which are key for good posture and functional muscle balance. Engaging the deep core with each row and pairing it with exhalation helps improve abdominal separation.
Seated Overhead Press
- Lunge to gently get down to the floor.
- With palms facing each other, exhale and flatten your abs into the spine as you extend the arms overhead and inhale as you return to the starting position.
- Repeat for up to 30 seconds, rest briefly, and perform a second set.
This strengthens the shoulders and the deep core muscles, contributing to improved posture and helping to heal DR.
- With both knees slightly bent and hips squared, rotate externally from the shoulders (so your palms face outward as they grip band handles).
- Exhale as you curl up, bending arms at the elbows and initiating the movement from your core.
- Do 15 reps, then drop your arms to 90 degrees and perform 12 two-tier pulses.
- Switch feet and do a set with a neutral grip (palms facing each other).
This set combined with the two-tier pulses strengthens and lengthens your upper arms while also working your core.
Resistance Band Exercises & Diastasis Recti
While there are many advantages to using resistance band exercises for general fitness, we find bands to be a particularly useful tool in building functional total-body strength while engaging the deep core muscles key in healing diastasis recti. Another plus is that resistance bands lend themselves to slow, measured movements, which are both safe and easier to control while focusing on proper coordination of the core and breathing. This is a plus over other types of equipment like kettlebells that tend to encourage the use of momentum and carry a greater risk of injury.
Resistance bands are an easy must-add to any fitness routine and home equipment stash. Start by incorporating the five resistance band exercises above into your workout repertoire, and keep up with our newest workouts as we develop more band-specific exercises. Also, our Every Mother resistance band set includes both a light and a medium weight band so you can customize them to your needs and level of fitness, ensuring you feel adequately challenged. Remember, if you notice that your form is suffering, don’t hesitate to lighten up!
Every Mother unlocks a scientifically proven method to strengthen the body during pregnancy and rebuild it after birth, regardless of how long it has been since you became a mother. We’re a knowledge circle, a community, and a celebration— of the mother you’ve become, and the woman you’ve been all along. Learn more about the EMbody Program™ here.