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15 Low Impact Band Exercises

I've needed to add in more strengthening opportunities into my workout routine, both to build more muscle and also protect and prevent a former shoulder injury from reoccurring. I am not trying to bulk up so I keep to simple and safe exercises that will maintain my muscles and slowly strengthen them by working these exercises into my weekly workout routine. 

One of the best ways that I can do this strength training at the home or most gyms is with a stretchy band that has the handles on each end. These can easily be looped around poles or other objects to create the motions that mimic gym equipment. And because of the low impact and lighter resistance, I can do motions that I can't do on gym equipment. 

Below is my list of exercises that work pretty well for me. One visual that helps me is the Chuck Norris Total Gym informercial that was on a bunch in the early 2000s. A lot of the arm motions he showed that machine doing are what comprise these exercises.

As for setup, I lost five different anchor point positions and four exercises per position. This helps make the routine easy to remember after doing it a couple times. It starts to feel very natural moving from one exercise to another. All of the positions have the anchor point in the middle of the band so you can hold both handles. However, the one with waist anchor point is only for a single hand at a time. You can hold both handles in one hand but this doubles the intensity. I instead like to thread a handle through the other and pull the band through creating a single handle anchor point.

A few final tips are to remain in an athletic pose for each exercise with knees bent and legs at least shoulder width apart. Do as many reps as you are comfortable. I personally do 2-3 sets of 20 each. Focus on form with each muscle that is being worked getting full activation and range of motion. Slow and steady is better than fast and jerky. Finally, stop doing any motion that feels painful or causes discomfort.

20 Band Exercises

Shoulder Height Facing Anchor Point

  1. Standing back rows - mimic a sit-down row machine but doing them while standing.
  2. Reverse fly - in standing row position, keep arms straight and pull to your side to mimic a fly motion in reverse.
  3. Triceps - move your arms at your waste with palms facing behind you and pull back passed your hips.
  4. Biceps - back in standing row position, do curl of your arms towards your chest.
Shoulder Height Facing Away From Anchor Point
  1. Traditional fly - do a traditional fly motion with arms wide at shoulder height
  2. Low fly - drop your hands to your side and do a fly motion from your hips upward.
  3. Overhead triceps - arms above your head and mimic an overhead tricep pull.
  4. Chest press - from standing position, make a chest press motion.
Waist Level Anchor Point Single Handle
  1. Arm rotation out - position your body parallel to the strap direction and put the handle in the hand that is furthest from anchor point. With arm bent 90 degrees, rotate across your belly and outwards. Then turn your body 180 degrees so the hand that was furthest from the anchor point is now closest and repeat.
  2. Arm rotation in - with arm again bent 90 degrees and with the arm closest to the strap, rotate in towards your belly. Then rotate 180 degrees and repeat with the other hand.
  3. Cross Body Upward Punch - with arm closest to anchor point, make a punching motion across your body finishing at shoulder height.
  4. Cross Body Downward Hit - with arm furthest from anchor point, make a downward slapping motion pretending that the back of your hand is hitting a wall to the side of you.
Standing On Strap
  1. Low biceps - pull arms up in curling motion. Keep elbows close to your body but not against it.
  2. Upright Row - pull arms up the middle of your body while your elbows point out like you're picking up a kettle bell. Go until your elbows are just under parallel to your shoulders.
  3. Outward Fly - starting with your hands at your side, move them out like your doing jumping jacks. 
  4. Armpit Row - this probably isn't the technical name but it helps me remember it. With arms at your side, making a rowing motion. Lift shoulders into your neck at top.
Overhead Anchor Point
  1. Lat Pulldown - mimic this piece of traditional gym equipment. It might require getting a bench or kneeling on the floor.
  2. Tall Row - turn hands into a row position and pull down to your chest
  3. Outward Fly - similar to the standing version but this is the finish motion of jumping jacks by pulling your hands to your side
  4. Tricep Pulldown - keeping your arms straight, pull the bands down in front of you.