Beginner’s Guide to Using Resistance Band Exercises

Resistance bands, also known as therabands, are a runner’s best friend. Why? Because they can be used in so many different ways!

I use a resistance band to build strength, increase flexibility, and improve range of motion! For me, I use a theraband all the time because of how versatile they can be.

I will use a band to warm up prior to a run with lateral lunges and glute activation drills. I will use a band around my ankles to mobilize and strengthen the ligaments and smaller muscles that don’t get worked with traditional exercises. There are so many great ways to use a resistance band and this post is designed to help you discover all of the uses.

The bands that I use come in a variety of colors and the different colors represent different levels of resistance. If you wanted to purchase your own set of bands, I would go with a variety pack so you can use “lighter” resistance bands for ankle exercises and thicker bands for hamstring and glute exercises.

*This post contains affiliate links. I may receive a small commission if you click on the links of the products and make a purchase.

Here are the bands that I use for the runners I coach and the set I have at home for my personal use.

Below, I’m going to outline 7 different exercise series that runners, just like yourself, should be doing to build general strength. You’ll have stronger hips, quads/hamstrings, and core area. I like to do these 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!

You’ll most likely want to start on the easiest band and as you get stronger, you can move up in color to the stronger bands.

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

7 Exercise Routines with Resistance Bands

Marching

What it works:

This drills works your glutes, hamstrings, core, and your balance.

Put the band around your thighs. Drive your right knee up toward your chest while keeping your balance. Drive your left hand with your right knee. You’ll want your thigh to be parallel to the ground and your foot flexed. Then march and switch hand and foot – remember, always opposite hand and foot.


Ankle/Calf Exercises

What it works:

Your ankles and feet have smaller muscles that don’t get worked the same as say your quads. So exercises with bands help strengthen those smaller muscles.

The video below is a small sample of what you can do with a band to help your lower legs (calves and ankles). For more, you’ll want to read some of these posts I’ve written about lower legs.

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


Superman

Lie with your belly and quads on the ground. With a band around your ankles, and in a swimmer’s flutter motion, lift your left leg up, then return to resting. Perform these moves for roughly 3-5 seconds each time for 10 reps total. Repeat the exercise with your right leg. Then, bring your left leg out to your side 10 times. Repeat with the right leg.

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

Clamshells

Put the band around your thighs.  Lay on one side with your knees at a 45-degree angle with your back, hips and feet 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

Summary

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.



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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!

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  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.

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

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

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  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.

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  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!

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  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.

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  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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