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Strengthening the Upper Body with Resistance Band Exercises

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If you are used to using free weights or weight machines, then using resistance bands will feel a bit strange at first. The movement feels different with the resistance bands because of the constant tension you feel throughout. There is no rest time.

You can be very creative with the band exercises. There are a multitude of resistance band exercises that you can perform to strengthen the upper body. Some examples of simple ways to use the bands to work the upper body are to simply loop the resistance band underneath a bench and press up for chest work. Or loop a band around a pole and press out or pull back for back work. For a standing shoulder press simply step on the band with one foot or both and press up.

Here are some upper body lengtheners and strengtheners that add a bit more complexity than the above.

Exercise: Circle Stretch

  • Stand tall and hold on to each end of the band.
  • The tighter the hold the more challenging it will be for flexibility of the shoulder.
  • Start with the band in front of the chest and the arms long.
  • On this first set keep the eyes to the horizon.
  • Inhale and bring the straight arms to the right and then overhead.
  • Exhale and circle the arms to the left and back to the starting position.
  • Do 4 reps and then change directions.

ADD ON

  • Follow the band with the eyes.
  • Inhale side bend to the right and then arch up to the ceiling.
  • Exhale and side bend to the left and then back to the center curling the spine and looking towards the floor.
  • Do 4 in each direction.

ADD ON

  • Do the whole sequence in a wide plié position.
  • This will increase the balance challenge and strength of the legs.


Exercise: Plié Diagonal

  • Hold on to each end of the band.
  • The tighter the hold the more challenging.
  • Bring the legs into a wide plié position.
  • The middle of the knee should be in line with the second toe.
  • Hold the plié position as you exhale and stretch the band on a diagonal across the body.
  • Inhale, straighten the legs as you bring the band back to its original horizontal position in front of the chest.
  • Exhale, plié and stretch the band towards the opposite diagonal
  • While working the arms on the diagonal make sure the torso stays upright and the crown of the head keeps pointing to the ceiling.
  • Do 6 to 8 reps on each side.
  • To make this a bit easier keep the legs straight the whole time as you work the arms.

 
Exercise: Lunging Triceps

  • You will need a longish resistance band of light to medium tension for this exercise.
  • Start standing on one end of your band with the left ball of the foot and heel.
  • The band should be under the foot and come up the back of the body.
  • When we go into lunge position the back heel will lift so the band will be anchored by the ball of that left foot. Make sure it's secure!!
  • Hold onto the other end of the band with one hand to start.
  • Bring the right foot forward to come into your lunge.
  • The feet should be a bit apart as if they are on railroad tracks and not one foot behind the other.
  • Bend the front right knee . Make sure the knee is over the ankle.
  • Bring the top end of the band behind the head and hold onto it with both hands.
  • Exhale, move into a low lunge and stretch the band as you lengthen the arms.
  • As you straighten the arms make sure the eyes stay at the horizon and the front ribs stay soft and are not popping forward.
  • Inhale.
  • Come up from the lunge and bend the elbows so the tension is released in the band.
  • Do 6-8 on each side.


Exercise: Draw A Sword

  • Standing up with the band in front of you, step on one end of the band with the left foot.
  • Hold the other end of the band in the right hand.
  • Start with the first move of Draw a Sword called The Belly Rub
  • Inhale and bending at the elbow bring the band and hand across the body.
  • Exhale and slowly release the band straightening the arm to the beginning position.
  • Do 4-6 reps on each side.

ADD ON

  1. Inhale, bend the elbow and then straighten the arm so the band is stretched across the whole front of your body.
  2. Make sure that the shoulders and pelvis have stayed squared to the front as you draw your sword.
  3. Make sure that the wrist has stayed in line with the forearm and that there is no bend in the wrist.
  4. Exhale, lead with the knuckles, bend the elbow and slowly bring the arm back across the body as you find your starting position.
  5. Do 4-6 reps on each side.

Exercise: Draw A Sword Karate Kick

  • Standing up with the band in front of you, step on one end of the band with the left foot.
  • Hold the other end of the band in the right hand.
  • Inhale, bend the elbow and then straighten the arm so the band is stretched across the whole front of your body.
  • At the same time the arm is moving, lean slightly towards the left and kick the right leg out to the side
  • Exhale, bring the arm back across as the leg comes back down into the starting position.
  • Do 4-6 on each side.

ADD ON

  • For a very advanced challenge stay balanced on one leg as you bend and straighten the arm and opposite leg 4 to 6 times.


 

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