I often get asked by strength and fitness clients how they can do some extra workouts at home when they only have time for a short workout.
The good news is that you don’t always need to invest hundreds of dollars into expensive machines. Instead, you could achieve a huge amount with just a yoga mat and exercise bands.
To help you plan your workouts at home with such bands, I spent a few hours talking to some fitness coaches to get their top ideas.
I then listed out the top ideas to share with you.
- Resistance bands are one of the most undervalued pieces of home gym equipment, even though it’s possible to use them to replace a wide range of free weights.
- Setting up your home gym around resistance bands requires a few items that will cost you less than $100.
- These bands will make it very easy to do a whole range of isolation and compound exercises.
How Do You Set up a Resistance Band Gym?
You set up a resistance band home gym by investing in a wide range of different tension and length bands.
You'll also need some form of door or wall-secured hooks that will allow you to set up the bands at different angles to your body.
This is very similar to how you would use a cable exercise machine.
By setting up resistance bands to be above your head, you’ll be able to do some lat-pulldown exercises.
By hooking them at chest height, you’ll be able to do rows or a chest press.
More on some sample exercises shortly.
The basic things you’ll need beyond a set of resistance bands are some hooks you attach to a wall or that you can latch onto a door frame.
You’ll also want to invest in a good exercise mat, as some of the workouts with bands will require you to sit or lay down on the floor.
Another thing you might consider is a workout bench, which will allow you to do a movement that is very close to a regular bench press and chest flyes.
One thing to keep in mind is that you need those wall or door hooks to be secure. I’ve heard of people getting some nasty bruises from a resistance band that snaps back due to a poor-quality hook.
While resistance bands are less likely to cause severe injuries like misuse of free weights, it’s still important to focus on safety .
Here are just a few workouts you can easily do with bands and a door hook.
- Biceps curls: Simply stand on the band with both feet and hold a handle in each hand; then do the regular bicep curl movement.
- Triceps extensions: Use the same setup as for bicep curls but bring one elbow above your head; then straighten out your arm while pulling the band up above your head.
- Seated rows: Attach the bands to a door hook at about knee height; then sit on the ground a few feet away and pull the handles to your chest.
- Chest press: Attach the bands at about shoulder-height to the door. Stand with your back to the door and one handle in each hand next to your shoulders, then push your hands out in front of you while leaning forward.
There are many more great ways to do isolation and compound exercises . If you're looking for a more full-body workout, check out our resistance band circuit routine.
“Unlike isolation exercises that are performed with commercial weight machines, compound exercises focus on functional fitness developed by exercises that simulate real-life activities.”
- Tara Laferrara, CPT at VeryWellFit.com
Will You Need to Upgrade to Machines?
Yes, eventually, you’ll probably need to upgrade to a workout machine. As you grow stronger, you’ll need to combine more resistance bands, and that can become difficult to manage.
You might also find that you need to get into a seated position where your body is secured to avoid slipping or sliding along the floor.
This would happen to me if I did some resistance band rows while sitting on my yoga mat.
The level of weight I would usually add on a cable machine would easily make me slide forward if it wasn’t for the secure seating.
It might not be a problem for most people, but be aware that you may eventually need to upgrade your equipment.
Can Resistance Bands Replace the Gym?
Yes, resistance bands can replace the gym to a certain extent. There are dozens of different exercises you can do with bands that mimic the movements of using dumbbells and barbells for strength training.
What Are the Disadvantages of Resistance Bands?
The main disadvantages of resistance bands are the gradual increase in tension and inexact weight indications. That makes them less effective for strength training than free weights and more difficult to record your training data.
Make the Most of Your Home Gym Setup
Once you get started with a handful of resistance band exercises, you’ll quickly find that you can easily come up with dozens of your own ones.
It will probably take quite some time to get to a strength and fitness level that would require a workout machine.
If that’s something you’re concerned about, then I recommend you check out our research guide on the best cable crossover machines.
There are some very affordable options that don’t take up a huge amount of space, and they can bring your strength training to the next level.
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