Resistance Bands for Stretching: 20 Exercises for Flexibility & Strength
Is it a good idea to use resistance bands for stretching?
To be honest… not necessarily.
Mostly, you wouldn’t want to use a resistance band as a stretching aid because the elasticity of the material will hinder you from getting deeper into the stretch. For some movements it’s good to use a non-elastic cord, but most stretches don’t require any equipment at all, except maybe a yoga mat.
But there are still huge benefits you can gain by using a resistance band in your stretching workout.
In this post, we’re going to look at why and when to use resistance bands for stretching and what kind of bands to use. I’ve also included 20 strength & flexibility exercises you can do with a resistance band.
Let’s begin with:
Why to use resistance bands for stretching
Resistance bands are an incredible tool to use for stretching when your goal is flexibility + strength.
If you just want to be super flexible without the strength training component, you needn’t bother with bands. Just practice any flexibility workout (like yoga) and focus on relaxing deeply into stretching poses.
But using bands in combination with strength training movements where your limbs are highly extended (like the ones in this guide), you gain two benefits at the same time:
- Flexibility: tissue lengthening, joint opening, improved posture etc.
- Strength: muscle adaptation, joint stabilization, core stability etc.
Although these kind of exercises won’t make you ultra bendy, they will give you a strong and well-toned body with a good level of flexibility and reduced risk of injury.
What kind of bands to use
There are many different kinds of resistance bands you can use for stretching. All the exercises here are done with a 208cm resistance loop, because it is probably the most versatile:
These bands are available in 5 resistance levels so you can always find one suitable for your strength. A few other types of bands you can use are:
- Resistance tubes (see full workout plan here)
- Mini resistance loops (workout video here)
- Flat resistance bands (workout plan here)
How to use resistance bands for stretching
These 20 resistance band stretching exercises are designed to open and strengthen your joints while giving your muscles and tendons a good stretch.
Try to extend into each movement as far as possible and, for best results, hold in the final position for a few seconds.
Exercise #1: Band Pull Aparts
Stretch the band apart in front of you, keeping your arms straight. Open your chest and stretch your shoulders back as far as you can, squeezing your shoulder blades together at the end of the movement.
Exercise #2: Overhead Band Pull Aparts
This time stretch the band in a downward motion from high above your head to chest level. Focus on stretching your arms and shoulders out wide during the movement.
Exercise #3: Band Dislocates
Hold the band behind your back with straight arms and stretch it apart, opening your shoulder blades as far as possible.
Exercise #4: Front Raise
Step on the inside of the resistance loop and pull it upwards, stretching your arms up as high as you can.
Exercise #5: Shoulder Press
Again standing inside the loop, this time push it directly up over your head, stretching your whole body up towards the ceiling.
Exercise #6: Face Pull
Fix the band at one end and pull the other end of the loop up to your face, opening your chest and shoulders at the end of the movement.
Exercise #7: Upright Row
Standing on the band, pull it up along the front of your body until your hands are at chin-level.
Exercise #8: Side Bend
Put one foot in the loop and grasp the other end. Stretch the band by bending to the side as far as possible without tilting forward or back.
Exercise #9: Incline Chest Press
Step on the band with your back foot and step forward into a deep stance. Push the band forward and up, extending into the stretch as far as possible.
Exercise #10: Chest Fly
Anchor the band at one end. Hold onto the other end and stretch the band horizontally in front of you, keeping your arm straight.
Exercise #11: Bent Over Row
Stand on the middle of the band and bend at the waist, keeping your lower back slightly arched. Pull the ends of the loops up as high as you can, squeezing your shoulder blades together at the end of the movement.
Exercise #12: Reverse Fly
Same as the previous exercise except this time lift your arms up and out to the side. Again, squeeze your shoulder blades together in the final position.
Exercise #13: Deadlift
Stand inside each end of the loop and bend at the waist to grasp it in the middle. Keep your arms straight and lower back arched. Stretch the band by standing up and thrusting your hips forward.
Exercise #14: Single Leg Deadlift
Stand with one foot on the middle of the band and holding either end of the loop. Tilt your body forward and lift your back leg. Then return to an upright posture, stretching the band upwards.
Exercise #15: Lunge Lift
With one foot in the loop, step forward into a deep lunge, at the same time lifting your arms forward and up over your head as far as you can.
Exercise #16: Donkey Kick
On all-fours with one foot in the loop, kick your back leg up towards the ceiling, holding for a few moments in the final position.
Exercise #17: Kneeling Superman
Again on all-fours, this time with the band looped around one foot and the opposite hand, lift your arm and leg up as high as possible and hold for a few seconds.
Exercise #18: High-Low Wood Chop
With the band anchored up high, pull it downwards and to the opposite side, bending at the waist. Keep your arms and legs straight.
Exercise #19: Low-High Wood Chop
Same as the previous movement except this time going from low down to high up.
Exercise #20: Ab Crunch
Anchor the band low down and sit on an incline bench, holding on behind your head. Stretch the band by lifting your knees up towards your chest.