Why don’t more men at the gym use resistance bands? Guys think they’re girly. Like using resistance bands is.
Listen to us: Resistance bands are not a slippery slope to interpretive group jazzercise. That silly loop of stretchy rubber can actually help mold a cut body. Resistance bands will make you leaner.
The amount of resistance in bands varies a ton, going from soft and springy to firm and damn near impossible to stretch. They’re typically differentiated by width and color. Pick one up, pinch it together, grab both ends, and pull apart. If it doesn’t stretch with minimal effort, start with a more forgiving band.
Here’s how to work them into your routine: Think your bench press is impressive? Hang two bands with equal resistance around both ends of the barbell, tuck the bottoms of those bands underneath the bench’s feet, and do your bench press. At the end of your range of motion, you’ll be wishing you’d taken off some weight. Sounds hard, right? Not as hard as high-repetition bicep curls with a resistance band. Do it right and you won’t be able to hold your phone to your ear after working out.
You can also create new routines based around resistance-only exercises. Loop a band around a squat rack and do core-strengthening chops. In a half-kneeling position, pull a band diagonally from one shoulder to the opposite hip. Punch straight out with the hand furthest from your hip and hold for a few seconds. Then move to a split stance for rows. Pull your shoulder blade down and keep the inside of your arm snug against your side as you pull back.
Even front squats can be done with resistance bands. Bend down, and work the band across your shoulders and underneath your feet. Cross your arms to hold the band in place. Jut your butt out and sink into a squat before pushing through the floor. Try going slow on descent, taking five seconds to get hunkered down. The tension, if you can bear it, will add to your lean muscle mass.
Resistance bands are stupidly simple, readily available, and fantastically effective. That is, if you embrace them. Be a man. Do something girly.
Photos by Visual Ideas / Nora Pelaez / Getty Images