A beginner’s guide to resistance bands

Resistance bands are a versatile piece of exercise equipment, experts say.

Resistance bands are a versatile piece of exercise equipment, experts say. Photo: Getty

With just one resistance band, you can strengthen every major muscle group or isolate muscles to build stability, prevent injury and even relieve a sore spot, according to physiotherapists who are praising the benefits of resistance training.

In fact, research suggests the humble resistance band could be more beneficial than using heavy weights.

Michelle Bergeron, a senior physiotherapist and clinical Pilates practitioner at Melbourne Physiotherapy Pilates and Fitness Group, said the elasticity in a band created ongoing resistance, making it a highly versatile and effective piece of equipment.

“The bands can vary from lightweight to extremely heavy, which allows for great progression and can challenge even the fittest person when used well,” Ms Bergeron said.

Whether your goal is to lose weight, tone up or improve your general strength and conditioning, resistance bands can help.

By adding load to a particular muscle group, you create growth in that muscle and improve its strength. Varying the level of resistance, number of repetitions and speed of the exercise will tailor the workout to suit your needs.


Resistance bands can help achieve a variety of fitness goals. Photo: Getty

Laura Wilson, a teacher at Barre Body in Melbourne, says resistance training also complements other types of exercise such as running, high-intensity interval training or team sports.

“It helps engage your smaller muscles correctly to improve posture and form in more high-intensity or high-impact movements,” she said.

Resistance bands are a popular choice for preventing injury because they help increase the body’s capacity to tolerate heavy loads and to build resilience.

Five resistance band exercises for beginners

Try each exercise without the band first so you feel comfortable with the movement. If you have an existing injury or health concerns, consult your health professional or speak to a physiotherapist before starting.

Ms Bergeron, who is also a physiotherapist for The Australian Ballet, suggests starting with these five exercises:


Place a looped band around your ankles or above your knees depending on your ability to tolerate the load. With your legs hip-width apart, stand tall with a neutral spine and pelvis.

Step one foot out to the side and then step the other foot in to meet it. Continue for 10 to 20 metres and return the other way, facing the same direction.


Start with a quick sidestep one way, and then return. Photo: Getty

Straight-arm pulldown

Loop the band over a bar so two equal length pieces are hanging down. Pick up one end of the band in each hand and stand far enough back so the band provides resistance.

With straight arms, pull the band from chest height down towards your hips and release back to chest height with control.


Loop a band around your knees and lie on your back with your knees bent, feet flat on the ground slightly wider than hip-width apart. Keep your legs opening slightly into the band and lift and lower your hips.

Bicep curls

Place your feet on the band so there are equal-length pieces in each hand. Stand tall, with your arms down by your side.

Keep your upper arms still and bend your elbows to bring your hands up towards your shoulders. Release slowly down and repeat.


Progress to more complex exercises as you feel able to. Photo: Getty

Bent-over row

Stand on the band and bend over, sticking your bottom out slightly. Place your arms straight down, pull the band and draw your shoulders back.

Then bend your elbows, keeping your hands at belly button height. Release slowly and repeat.

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