Beginner’s Guide to Using Resistance Band Exercises

Resistance bands, also known as therabands, are a runner’s best friend.

The bands that I use come in a variety of colors and the different colors represent different levels of resistance. The bands can be used for so many different exercises that all runners should be doing on a weekly basis.

Below, I’m going to outline 7 different exercise series that runners should be doing to build general strength in their hips, quads/hamstrings, and core area. I like to do these drills/exercises as a warm-up to wake up my sleepy muscles, but they could just as easily be done as a full-on strength day. The bands don’t look like much, but believe me, they’ll give you a really good workout!

Strength training using resistance bands
Beginner’s Guide To Using Resistance Bands

7 Exercise Routines with Resistance Bands


Put the band around your thighs. Drive right knee up toward your chest while keeping your balance. Drive your left hand with your knee. You’ll want your thigh to be parallel to the ground and your foot flexed.

Ankle/Calf Exercises

Ankles and calves work really well with therabands. From extensions to flexibility, ankles and calves adapt really well to the demands of the band.

I wrote about ankle and calf exercises extensively because of all the issues I’ve had with my calves and shins.

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Lie with your belly and quads on the ground. With a band around your ankles, perform these moves for roughly 3-5 seconds. After each motion, return to resting. Start with your left ankle, move outward, then up, then across your right foot. Do the same with your right ankle.

Resistance Band Exercises for Distance Runners
Resistance Band Exercises for Distance Runners


Put the band around your thighs.  Lay on one side with your knees at a 45-degree angle, legs and hips stacked. Imagine a straight line from your shoulders through your back and hips to the bottom of your feet. Lift your top knee 6-9 inches, keeping your feet together. Slowly return to rest.

Reverse Clamshell

This video is really good at explaining what your form should look like and how you should perform this drill.

Lateral Shuffle

Put the band around your thighs and stand hip-length apart. Staying in a squat position and keeping your feet/toes, hips and shoulders facing forward, step out with one foot and match the distance with your second foot.

Glute Activation

Put the band around your thighs. Holding onto a wall for balance, bend one knee and press your heel back (think back kick) about 5 inches. Hold and bring back to rest.

I wrote a hefty blog post about glutes. For a deep dive into glute work and why the glute is under-worked, click the link.

Strength training for runners using resistance bands
Using Resistance Bands for Strength and Mobility


Resistance bands are an inexpensive tool to assist in strengthening, toning, and/or rehabbing a variety of muscle groups. With a resistance band, you can work on flexibility or mobility (ankle exercises, clam shells) that will help boost running performance. Similarly, the bands are great for building strength (think glutes and calf exercises).

Need a new resistance workout that is portable, cheap, and really effective? Try resistance bands! #TrainwithMarc used and approved!

I bring a band with me when I travel – to meets, on vacation or when I’m not starting a run from my house. They are easy to remember and bring with me and they are great for activating muscles prior to running.

If you haven’t thought about using a theraband (or resistance band) before, I hope this post was the spark that gets you to buy into using one during your training plan. If you’d like to buy your own bands, you can get your own bands on Amazon.

Did you find this article helpful? Let me know by leaving a comment below or join the conversation on Twitter, Instagram or Facebook.

Dr. Jack Daniels VDOT & USATF Certified Running Coach
Dr. Jack Daniels VDOT & USATF Certified Running Coach


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12 thoughts on “Beginner’s Guide to Using Resistance Band Exercises

  1. We sometimes use resistance bands in my OrangeTheory fitness classes and I also groan because I hate them BUT I know that I should them more often. I always feel the burn and as you mentioned, they are great to use for glute activation!


  2. Reverse clamshells are so hard!!! I assume that means I need to do them. Great tips. I’ll be adding a few to my repertoire.


  3. I use resistance all the time in my workouts. They are a great too


  4. I haven’t done too many in my life – I know Gwen Jorgensen does them… Should add them too.


  5. Kim at Running on the Fly November 13, 2019 — 8:28 PM

    This is something I’m going try to remember to do each week through the winter. Hoping it becomes a habit that will continue.


  6. This was super helpful! I’m trying to take the next few months of winter to focus on strengthening imbalances before getting back into real endurance training. Definitely going to incorporate these resistance band moves!


  7. This is a really helpful post. I need to do more work with resistance bands. It would be so helpful. The only time I really use them is in my Barre mix class.


  8. Nice! Yes, the bands are great. You can do the exercises without the bands, but they are more bang for the buck if you do have them to use.


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