Are you looking to give resistance band training a try? You’ve come to the right place.
Strength training is a crucial part of any running program, regardless of your current fitness level and training goals. In other words, if you run, you should incorporate strength training. There’s no way around it.
Why is it so important? Here are two key reasons:
- Boost power and strength in essential running muscles like the glutes, quads, and calves. This leads to improved running economy and performance.
- Correct muscle imbalances, which results in fewer injuries and less discomfort while running.
While I could talk endlessly about the benefits of strength training for runners, that’s not my main goal today. Instead, I want to share a set of resistance band exercises you can do at home to enhance your overall body strength.
So, why resistance bands? Well, keep reading for the answers.
Enter Resistance Bands
Resistance bands are fantastic fitness tools. They’re typically made from strong, thin, and durable rubber and feature handles at each end.
The best part? They come in various resistance levels, so you can choose the perfect fit for your current fitness level and training objectives.
These bands are incredibly versatile and customizable to suit your unique needs. Whether you’re a fitness newbie or a seasoned pro, there’s a resistance band for you.
From my experience, I can confidently say that resistance band exercises are among the best ways to maintain strength training routine, especially if you can’t make it to the gym or have your own personal reasons for avoiding it.
Let’s face it: having a stack of dumbbells in your living room might not be the most appealing option for everyone.
Resistance Bands Offer a lot of exercises
The beauty of resistance bands lies in their versatility. With these simple yet effective tools, you can unlock a world of diverse bodyweight exercises. In fact, there’s virtually no limit to the types of resistance exercises you can perform.
From squats to push-ups, chest presses to rows, triceps extensions to overhead presses, and bicep curls, the list goes on.
The best part? You can do all of these exercises without the need for dumbbells or a weight bar.
Many Muscle Groups
Resistance bands are incredibly versatile when it comes to targeting specific muscle groups. They can effectively engage the major muscle groups crucial for running, such as your core, glutes, and legs.
Moreover, you have the freedom to select exercises that align with your fitness goals and preferences. Whether you’re looking to work on your overall strength or isolate particular muscle groups, resistance bands have got you covered.
Resistance bands offer unique benefits for connective tissues like tendons and fascia. They can help improve the function of these crucial connective tissues, which is essential for overall mobility and injury prevention.
Additionally, resistance bands are incredibly cost-effective, making them one of the most budget-friendly options for strength training, second only to bodyweight exercises. You can find resistance bands for as little as $5, and even the more advanced options rarely exceed $25. This affordability makes them accessible to virtually anyone.
Moreover, their compact and portable nature adds to their convenience. You can easily roll up resistance bands and take them with you when you travel, ensuring that you can maintain your strength training regimen no matter where you go. This portability is a significant advantage for those who are constantly on the move or prefer to work out in different locations.
How to start Resistance Bands Exercises For Runners
If you’re new to resistance bands training, here are some essential tips to get you started on the right foot:
- Choose the Right Band: As a beginner, opt for a thinner band, typically in green or yellow. This level of resistance is ideal for newcomers and allows you to focus on proper form and technique. Remember, you can always increase the resistance as you become more experienced and stronger.
- Master the Basics: Begin with fundamental exercises to build a solid foundation. Exercises like squats, rows, and chest presses are excellent starting points. These movements target major muscle groups and prepare your body for more advanced exercises.
- Proper Form is Key: Pay close attention to your form. Ensure that you’re using the correct posture and technique for each exercise. This not only maximizes the effectiveness of the workout but also prevents injuries.
- Gradually Increase Resistance: As you progress and feel more confident, challenge yourself by using a band with higher resistance. Bands in blue or green offer increased resistance and intensify your workouts.
- Adjust Band Length: You can make exercises more challenging by shortening the bands or even doubling them up. Experiment with different band lengths to find the right level of resistance for your current fitness level.
- Consistency is Key: Like any form of training, consistency is crucial. Incorporate resistance band exercises into your routine regularly, aiming for at least two to three sessions per week. This consistency will lead to steady progress over time.
1. Side Steps
This exercise is a fantastic way to stabilize and strengthen your hip abductors, which are crucial for runners. Research has shown that many overuse running injuries, such as Runner’s Knee and IT Band Syndrome, can be linked to weakness in the hip muscles.
Here’s how to do it correctly:
Set Up: Begin by looping the resistance band either above your knees, below them, or for added resistance, around your ankles.
Athletic Position: Assume an athletic position with your feet hip-width apart and your knees slightly bent.
Step Out: Step out to the right side, planting your right heel and pulling your left foot over so you return to a hip-width stance. Maintain tension on the resistance band throughout the exercise.
Keep Feet Apart: Be sure not to let your feet come into contact during the movement.
Repetition: Repeat the sidestepping movement for at least 12 to 16 steps in one direction, and then reverse back to the starting point.
Progression: As you become stronger, challenge yourself by increasing the distance and resistance of the exercise.
2. Monster Steps
This exercise is another fantastic way to target the hip muscles and strengthen your entire lower body, with a special focus on the glutes. Here’s how to perform it correctly:
Set Up: Loop a resistance band around both ankles and another one around your knees. Ensure that there is enough resistance so that the band is taut when your feet are hip-width apart. If it feels too easy, adjust the band to provide more resistance.
Starting Position: Begin with your knees slightly bent and engage your glutes. This is your starting position.
Movement: Sink into a semi-squat position, and then step forward and out to the side at a 45-degree angle.
Take Monster Steps: Step forward with your left foot, taking “monster” steps by keeping your feet as wide apart as possible. Continue walking in this manner for a distance of 16 to 20 feet.
Walk Backward: After reaching your desired distance, walk backward to return to your starting point.
3. Standing Hip Abduction
This exercise is a personal favorite of mine, and it’s incredibly effective for targeting the hip muscles and glutes. It also incorporates balance, making it an excellent choice for runners.
Set-Up: To perform this exercise, you’ll need a resistance band and a sturdy object to anchor it. Create a loop by passing one handle of the band around the sturdy object and the other handle around your right ankle. Stand tall with your left foot on the tubing while holding the opposite handle.
Balance Assistance: If you have concerns about balance, you can hold onto a secure object for support.
Movement: Begin with your right knee straight and engage your core muscles. Kick your right leg outward, away from your body, while keeping your hips level and preventing any rotation. Hold this position for a moment.
Return: Slowly return your right leg to the starting position.
Focus on Hip Muscles: Throughout the exercise, concentrate on using your hip muscles rather than allowing your hips to rotate.
Repetitions: Aim to complete 12 to 16 repetitions on each side to finish one set.
4. Ankle Dorsiflexion
This exercise is particularly valuable if you’ve experienced lower leg pain or shin splints in the past. Dorsiflexion involves flexing your ankle by bringing your foot toward your shin, and it’s an effective way to strengthen your lower legs and reduce the risk of common overuse injuries.
- Set Up: Begin by sitting on a mat with your legs extended. Take the middle of the resistance band and wrap it around your right foot, then hold onto the band’s handle.
- Movement: Pull your right foot up toward your shin as far as you can, maximizing dorsiflexion. This is the primary movement.
- Return: Slowly lower your foot back to the starting position as soon as you’ve reached the maximum dorsiflexion. This completes one repetition.
- Repetitions: Aim to perform at least 12 to 16 repetitions on each side to complete one set.
Clam exercises target several muscle groups, including the outer thighs, glutes, groin, and hip flexors.
Starting Position: Begin by lying on your right side, supporting your head with your hand or arm, or propping yourself up on your forearm. Your knees should be slightly bent, and your feet should be stacked, one on top of the other.
Band Placement: Loop the resistance band around your knees, ensuring it’s secure.
Movement: Lift your top knee upward about 8 to 10 inches while keeping your feet together throughout the movement.
Hold and Return: Hold the elevated position for a count of three, emphasizing the contraction in your hip and thigh muscles. Then, slowly lower your knee back to the starting position.
Repetitions: Perform the clam exercise for 12 to 16 repetitions on each side to complete one set.
5. Squat with Resistance Band
Squats are undoubtedly one of the best strength exercises, and when paired with resistance bands, they become even more effective for runners. Squats target various muscle groups, including the core, glutes, quadriceps, and calves. Additionally, they promote mobility and a full range of motion in the lower body, which is essential for runners.
Starting Position: Stand on the resistance band with both feet, positioning them shoulder-width apart. Ensure the band is taut and centered under your feet.
Grip Handles: Squat down by pushing your hips back and reach down to grip a handle in each hand. Keep your chest up and your back flat.
Squat Movement: With the handles raised to shoulder height, maintain an upright posture while squatting down. Imagine you’re sitting in a chair positioned behind you.
Full Squat: Continue to lower your body until both of your knees are bent at approximately a 90-degree angle.
Return to Standing: Push through your heels to stand back up, returning to the starting position. This completes one repetition.
Knee Tracking: Pay attention to your knee alignment, ensuring they track over your toes throughout the exercise.
6. Standing Kickbacks
This exercise primarily targets the hamstrings (the muscles at the back of the thighs) and the gluteus maximus (the butt muscles). It’s an excellent addition to your resistance band routine to strengthen these crucial muscle groups.
Ankle Loop: Begin by looping the resistance band just above your left ankle. Ensure it’s secure and won’t slide down during the exercise.
Sturdy Object: Stand facing a sturdy object that you can hold onto for balance. This could be a chair, a wall, or any stable support.
Knee Bend: Slightly bend your right knee while keeping your upper body upright.
Kickback Motion: Lift your left foot off the ground, driving your heel backward in a kickback motion. Focus on contracting your hamstrings and glutes.
Top Position: Hold the position for a moment when your left leg is fully extended backward, engaging your core for stability.
Lower and Repeat: Lower your left leg back down with control, and then repeat the kickback motion on the same side.
Core Engagement: Maintain engagement in your core muscles throughout the exercise to support your posture and balance.
Avoid Rocking: Ensure that your upper body doesn’t rock forward as you perform the kickbacks.