August 09 2018

Mark’s Resistance Band Workout On the Road (or At Home)

By Mark Sisson
23 Comments

I hear people say all the time they don’t work out because they can’t make it to the gym or they don’t have the right equipment. Or (the big one)…they don’t have time. As someone who’s always on-the-go, I know I have to make my workouts fit my lifestyle. For me, that means having options I can do anywhere with minimal equipment and a short time investment.

This “Road Warrior” workout is exactly that. If you have a resistance band (you can pick a set at Amazon for under $20 easily) and a floor, you’re set. It’s the ultimate do anywhere, no excuses routine. Check out how I do it below.

Mark’s Road Warrior Workout

Resistance Band Pull-Apart Warm-Up (Front and Back)

Do 10 pulls behind the head.

Do 10 in front.

Side Delt Raises

Stepping on the middle of the resistance band with one foot, pull the handles up at your sides. Do 10 raises.

Front Delt Raises

Keeping your foot on the band, this time pull the handles up in front of your body. Do 10 raises.

Air Squats

Step your feet shoulder-width apart. Keeping your back straight, squat as you bring your hands to the front each time. Do 25 squats.

Pushups

Drop and do 25 pushups.

Repeat the set four times.

Now you’re done. How’s that for simple?

Watch below for the full workout put together. 

Resistance Band Benefits

Resistance bands are the ultimate versatile, affordable, ultra-compact home gym. You can get a fantastic, quick body workout with something that fits into a drawstring backpack or an airplane carry on. Bands are obviously great for workouts on-the-go in hotel rooms and elsewhere, but they’re so effective that they can and should become a centerpiece of your strength training experience at home or at your favorite gym.

Why are resistance bands so effective? I believe they offer a unique stimulus unlike hoisting heavy metal or working with a machine. First of all, when you move resistance bands through open space, you recruit the small stabilizer muscles that aren’t necessary when going through the fixed range of motion of a machine. Lifting free weights also recruits stabilizer muscles, but the training stimulus feels different. Free weights focus on the development of explosive power, like when you apply maximum force into the ground to achieve a deadlift. With resistance bands, you’re not only developing strength but also improving balance and flexibility. This makes resistance bands particularly beneficial for older adults, since these three attributes—strength, balance, and flexibility—are critical to preserve quality of life in later years and to avoid the disastrous consequences of routine falls. Falls are now considered to be the number one cause of injury and death from injury in Americans over age 65.

This “felt sense” of the bands’ unique engagement fits scientifically when you consider that gravity represents the resistance for lifting a weight, while elastic tension represents the resistance from a band. When lifting a weight, your resistance is always in a downward direction—into the ground/the opposite direction of your life. Deadlifts require leg force applied into the ground, while you achieve a bench press by pressing your torso down into the bench. With resistance bands, the direction of the resistance is the opposite direction of how the band is stretched, so you have endless variety possible. And while people criticize resistance bands for offering less resistance than a weight until the final segments of the movement when the band is stretched furthest, there is no inertia effect with bands like there is with free weights. When you provide the initial force to hoist a weight, momentum helps it travel through the range of motion to the finish line. Imagine a bicep curl where you provide the initial explosive force of bending the elbow to raise the weight. After that, the weight essentially goes along for the ride to the top of the lift. With a band, you have to provide constant force or the band will recoil. It’s kind of like cranking your bicycle pedals up to speed and then cruising along at the same speed without pedaling for a little while, due to the effects of inertia.

Basically, all manner of strength training delivers fantastic benefits, and you needn’t worry about the pros and cons of various methods unless you have very specific goals. Even then, if you hear that 1) you can’t get big without free weights, 2) resistance bands deliver a less effective workout than machines, or 3) that your muscles require constant variation in workout patterns to avoid stagnation, laugh off the bro-science and congratulate yourself for making a commitment to fitness. If you never go near a gym but commit to a handful of resistance band exercises in your hallway every morning before you get into your busy day, you can develop extremely impressive functional fitness to enjoy a long, healthy, active, fit life. I’ve heard criticisms for years about the campy four-minute power body workouts or seven-minute smash sessions, but let me tell you: you can get all the workout you can handle in seven minutes with some resistance bands and a hotel room doorknob!

Resistance Band Workout Suggestions

Watch my video above for a few moves you can do anywhere by just holding onto the resistance bands yourself. If you can use your resistance bands in a permanent setting such as your home, arrange for them to be affixed to a stable object to allow for a bigger variety of great exercises.

I recommend tying the center strap to a pull-up bar, so two cords hang down with handles on each end. You can also wrap the center strap around a doorknob, close the door, and pull the strap through to the other side of the door. This creates a stable base to pull from. Or, screw a sturdy threaded hook or threaded “screw eye” into a stud or large outdoor beam, then use a carabiner to attach the center straps of the resistance bands to the stable object.

For an amazing five-minute upper body session, including one of the most effective and difficult ab exercises known to mankind, try the following:

“Golfers”

Stand sideways to the doorway, knees slightly bent, back straight, and bend at the waist to a 45-degree angle. Grab the handles and stand far enough for the cords to be fully extended and under slight tension. Hold handles at shoulder level and pull across body and down to finish at opposite knee (e.g., right shoulder across to left knee.) Try to keep torso facing forward at all times, emphasizing the movement of the arms and shoulders through the range of motion. Perform reps until temporary failure, then switch sides to pull from left shoulder (nearest doorway) across to right knee. Can you see how this mimics the golf swing, on the side that you swing? Now you know how Tiger Woods and the rest of them hit the ball 320 yards on the fly! Even if golf really is your thing, always complete an opposite set to achieve muscular and flexibility balance.

Posture Pulls

Facing doorway, grab handles in front of you and back up until you achieve significant tension. Then pull the handles backward with arms ending in bent position at chest height, on either side of your chest. Return to center and repeat. Try to engage the erector spinae muscles that run along either side of your spine and minimize the emphasis on the small muscles of your arms. On the final repeat, hold the contracted position for 15 seconds. Keep spine and especially neck straight and elongated at all times.

“Swimmers”

Grab handles and back up until you achieve tension. Then, bend forward at the waist to near 90 degrees if possible. Extend arms fully in front of you while holding handles together. Keeping spine straight and elongated at all times, initiate a butterfly swim stroke by pulling the handles down your body line on either side until arms are fully extended at your sides. Control your recovery back to starting position. This is a fantastic exercise for the lat muscles. For swimmers, a few minutes of this strenuous move can equal the muscular endurance development from 30-60 minute swim workout. This is the validated premise of the popular Vasa Trainer, invented nearly 30 years ago by Rob Sleamaker.

Bench Press

Facing away from the doorway, grab handles at chest height on either side of chest, and walk out until you achieve tension. Initiate a bench press move by extending each arm forward, followed by a controlled recovery.

Tim DiFrancesco, former LA Lakers Strength and Conditioning Coach, utilizes resistance bands for all manner of creative moves that promote flexibility, increased range of motion, and injury prevention.

Product Suggestions

Stretch Cordz are one of my favorite resistance bands with handles. I know you can bands-with-handles products everywhere, but I’ve had several inexpensive pairs break in creative ways, such as the plastic handle cracking or the band violently snaps in two. Stretch Cordz are sturdy and come in color-coded graduated resistance, starting with really easy Silver (rated at 3-8lbs resistance) to Blue (rated at 14-34lbs)

Hip Circles: Noted strength and conditioning coach and powerlifter Mark Bell has invented a unique and extremely effective giant rubber-band style device called Hip Circle, which allows for all manner of lower body resistance exercises. When you strap your legs together with a band, you can get a fantastic isolation on the glutes, which often get overlooked in sporting activities and atrophied when you sit in a chair all day. You’re likely to get plenty sore when you first start using them from the intense glute activation, so start slowly and keep at it. Even a few minutes of work a few times a week can do a fantastic job preventing knee injuries.

TheraBand and PerformBetter also make simple elastic bands for multipurpose usage, including dynamic stretches and drills, and assorted resistance exercises for upper and lower body. My favorite use of these bands is to attach a band at ankle level, bend my knees as if I’m in a skiers tuck, and slowly shuffle my feet forward, backward, and side-to-side. Your glutes will start to burn in 20 seconds or less, guaranteed!

Thanks for stopping by, everybody. Let me know your thoughts on the video (and other info). Are you looking for more quick and easy workouts? Are you digging the video content? What are you doing for simple routines these days?

TAGS:  mobility

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23 thoughts on “Mark’s Resistance Band Workout On the Road (or At Home)”

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  1. This is a great article. I always suffered from the “it’s not as good as a gym” so even if I am home, and have very limited time (especially not enough time to hit the gym), I would skip using bands or body weight exercises. However, I decided it was much better than nothing and it is amazing how much “just doing something” to keep the gains you made at the gym feels. So, no, it’s not going o replace a good focused workout at the gym (even if you keep it short and primal), but do it anyway and you will surprised at the results…especially if you are a road warrior.

  2. I just use the PEM (Primal Essential Movements) when on the road. Pullups, squats, pushups and planks plus some tricep dips. I’ve only broken one bathroom door in a hotel by doing my pullups with the door half open and hanging on it. I should probably bring a portable pullup bar. I already bring the portable Squatty Potty.

    1. Omg, I am dying about the portable Squatty Potty! I thought I was bad lugging around collagen, ghee, an immersion blender, yoga mat….my husband would seriously roll his eyes if I added the Squatty Potty into the mix.

      But I am also a huge fan of the PEMs while traveling. I combine them with hiking/walking/yoga and I am good to go!

    2. Check out lifeline fitness they have a set of handles that secure over a door and you can close it. They are tiny and take up no room

  3. This is great and exactly what people need to see. There are so many easy things to do at home and it doesn’t take much time. I love air squats, planks and pushups. I’ll squeeze in air squats while I’m brushing my teeth sometimes. Stairs are great too…I’m constantly up and down the stairs at home, and when I travel try to skip the elevator as much as possible.

  4. Sensible! And with a bar you can do pull-ups and leg raises, really work it all. I like thinking of Primal fitness evolutionarily—our ancestors didn’t “train!” They lived, moving all the time, physically working, playing. Seems to me the ideal “workout” would be something minor every 15 minutes during the middle of the day, a sprint or some lifting now and then. No injuries of overtraining, no chronic anything, no ego drive, just appreciating body in space and nature and society.

  5. I love this. Videos make it easier for me. I am a 49 year old and while I walk a lot, I stuggle with finding strength exercises that I like and can stick to. Convenience is a must. Would this routine qualify as a “strength workout” to be used a couple times a week for someone like me who is aging and needs to build or maintain muscle mass? Thank you!!!

    1. It should work just fine.

      I started not able to do ANY pushups and began with doing them leaning on a counter (I think that’s called ‘inclined’) and now I’m up to 20 regular pushups 2 or 3 times a day without much issue. And I didn’t start any of this until I was 58…

      I found it to be a positive feedback loop – the more I did, the more I felt like doing, rinse & repeat. 🙂

      JD

      1. Thank you! It is inspiring that you started at a later age and have progressed so much.

    2. ditto – so happy to see this! Please do more like this!!

  6. This is exactly the stuff I’d like to see! It’s encouraging to see how a decent workout can still be performed with simple, minimal equipment and accessories, which can fit into even the most busy, stressful of days and situations. Thanks for highlighting the importance of simple exercises, warmups, stretches, mobility and recovery techniques as well. Keep them coming!

  7. Love the video! Yes, would like to see more along these lines.

  8. I love this Mark! The closest gym to me is 70+ miles, but I don’t think I would visit one even if it was accessible. I just love my home and outdoor workouts so much. I love trying new things, so I’ll incorporate these band exercises into my morning routine tomorrow. Thank you!

  9. I made a resistance band device out of garden hose and bungee cord. I used four sections of the hose about five inches each and about a 10 foot section of bungee cord. To make it I put all four sections in the middle of the cord and ran the cord back through the two middle hose sections to make T-handles. Then tied the two lose ends of the bungee in a square knot to complete the device. The advantage over the commercial options, the resistance is fully adjustable and it converts to a jumprope, and it breaks down for no excuse portability.

  10. LOVE the short videos – keep making them! Also if you could detail the movements/form when necessary for those who aren’t familiar. Thank you 🙂

  11. Wow! Mark, thanks for sharing these band workout moves. These workout tips are really good for those people who thought they can’t do any workout at home without gym and workout equipment. One can easily do these healthy moves on anywhere to be fit and active yourself.

  12. Wow! I don’t know why it never occurred to me to get a set of these instead of trying to figure out how to acquire and store and actually USE a weight set in order to lift heavy things. The product you link to is out of stock, but I grabbed this one https://amzn.to/2Q49IkJ because it looked most similar. It comes with a door anchor and an additional list of exercises. Unfortunately, I live in a small house and none of the doors have enough room around them to do most of these, but I was able to do some things by putting the band behind my desk chair while sitting on it.

  13. Love these!

    The simple bands like theraband (even the Amazon version I got teknifit) have been great.
    ‘Squat walks’ indded are killer! They were prescribed to me by my PT for glute and general posterior chain activation. I also use them for fire hydrants and modified donkey kick/bird dog whatever you want to call it. Every single day, and also great for travel along w/ everyone’s comments including the PEMs!