6 Band Exercises to Try
By Gregory Hartman, O2X Injury Prevention Specialist
When getting ready to complete a workout, tactical training, or other exercise, most people think of completing a variety of stretches, or start with a dynamic warm-up. However, tactical athletes often overlook exercises that help engage stability muscles throughout the body to prepare joints for the loads and positions they are about to complete. But engaging these stability muscles allows joints to move more efficiently through the available range, and makes you less likely to get injured.
The following are six quick, easy banded exercises that will prepare your body for planned workouts, as well as unplanned events as a tactical athlete. A general rule of thumb is to get a “light burn” prior to your workout. If you feel the burn too early, use a lighter band, and if you get through 30 repetitions without feeling anything, bump the resistance up a notch.
6 Banded Exercises to Prepare Your Body for Workouts
1. Banded Hip Hinges
As most people sit throughout the day, the glutes and posterior chain tend to be overlooked and often “turn off.” This easy way to get the hips to engage and hamstring length will keep the posterior chain engaged for full body activities.
To complete – Place band around shoulders and step onto band. Keep slight bend in the knees and hinge hips back until you feel a light pull in the hamstrings. Keep chest tall and core engaged. Drive hips forward and squeeze glutes in the upright position.
2. Banded shoulder abduction/scaption
This quick warm-up engages the muscles that provide stability to the shoulder blade and the actual shoulder joint. This is a great warm up before pushing and pulling exercises, as well as activities overhead.
To complete: With light tension on the band, pull the band apart, keeping elbows straight until the band comes to your chest. Squeeze between your shoulder blades and hold. Repeat with one arm up, one arm down, and then alternate.
3. Plank shoulder and hip banded lateral walks
This exercise tackles it all. Being in the high plank engages the core, plus you’re getting shoulder recruitment and hip recruitment in a lateral motion (gluteus medius and shoulder abductors/scapulothoracic musculature). Great all inclusive exercise.
To complete: With band around ankles or feet, and band around hands or wrists, step your hands and feet out laterally, keeping tension on the band. After 2-3 repetitions to the right, complete 2-3 to the left, and repeat until a light burn.
4. Side step with external rotation bias
Having the band around mid-foot actually engages the gluteus medius in a more efficient manner. You also recruit some of your lateral ankle stabilizers for ankle stability prior to activity.
To complete: Keep a slight bend of your knees, drive your hips back, and keep tension on the band as you step side to side. You can make this more difficult by doing a weight shift side to side, lifting one leg up at a time rather than stepping multiple times to a side.
5. Hip flexor mobility
To complete: With a mobility band placed as close to the hip joint as possible, get some tension on your kneeling leg. Let the band pull your hip into an extended position and squeeze the glute on this side. You should feel a pull in the front of your hip. Keep your core engaged (rib cage pulled down) to get maximum length on your hip flexors. Hold for 5-10 seconds and repeat 5 times per side.
6. T-spine “open books”
To complete: While lying on your side with your hips flexed to 90 degrees, start with your hands stacked on top of each other. Pulling a band apart, rotate your shoulders and spine opposite your hips, slow and controlled, while looking towards your hand. If you keep this routine up prior to exercising, you will be one step closer to moving better and preventing injury during activity.