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How to use Resistance Bands to Fight Off Injury

 

While some triathletes are lucky to have time to fit gym workouts into their weekly training plan, there are plenty of us who rarely get this chance! But we all know the importance of maintaining our strength both during the off-season and while racing, to maximise our performance and to keep injuries at bay. So how do you fit in strength around a busy schedule?

The answer – resistance bands! These versatile rubber bands allow all sorts of exercises to be completed from anywhere, you can even work out at home in your PJs! These are my top 6 resistance bands exercises to give you a full body workout anytime, anywhere!

1. Squats

Many athletes do squats as part of their strength routine, but to mix things up you can add a resistance band. Not only will this make the exercise harder, but you’ll be working both your upper and lower body.

  1. Start by standing on the middle of the band, feet hip-width apart.

  2. Squat down and hold the ends of the band in each hand – the band should be loose while down at the bottom of the squat.

  3. Return to standing, if your band is long enough, pull your arms above your head holding onto the band. You should feel resistance added to your squat.

  4. Repeat 20 times, have a rest, then repeat 2 more sets.

2. Standing Rows

Using the resistance band to complete rows will strengthen the muscles that control your shoulder blades which is very important for swimming, as well as maintaining your upper body position on the bike. By completing these exercises while standing, you’ll also work your core.

  1. Anchor the resistance band (try tying to a pole or fence) at chest height, and stand facing the band.

  2. Keep your knees slightly bent, your bottom tucked in and your upper body tall.

  3. Hold the ends of the band in each hand, the band shouldn’t have any slack with your arms out straight.

  4. Pull the band back towards yourself, bending your elbows and keeping them tucked in by your sides.

  5. Squeeze your shoulder blades together – the band should provide resistance throughout this movement.

  6. Repeat 15 times, have a rest, then repeat 2 more sets.

3. Crab Walks

This exercise is a favourite of many physiotherapists, as it is an excellent exercise for improving the strength and control of important hip muscles in a weight-bearing position.

  1. Tie the resistance band around your ankles, it should make separating your legs difficult.

  2. Start in a quarter squat with your hands on your hips and your head up.

  3. Step your left leg out to the side, keeping both knees bent in the quarter squat, then step your right leg to meet your left.

  4. Repeat 10 times to your left, then repeat 10 steps leading with the right leg.

  5. Take a rest between each set and complete 3 times.

4. Chest Press

The chest muscles, or the pecs, are important for maintaining a strong position throughout the upper body. The chest press is a great way to work this area.

  1. Anchor the resistance band at chest height and stand facing away from the band.

  2. Hold the ends of the band in each hand, with your hands positioned just in front of your shoulders and your elbows out behind you.

  3. Stand with one foot in front of the other, knees slightly bent for stability.

  4. Press both hands forward against the resistance of the band.

  5. Repeat 20 times, rest, then complete 2 more sets.

5. Hamstring Curls

Strengthening of the hamstrings is often neglected in a gym program, which generally focuses more on the quad and calf muscles. But, ensuring you keep the hamstrings muscles active and strong will help to prevent injuries.

  1. Tie the band into a circle.

  2. Lie on your stomach and loop the band around both feet.

  3. Keep one leg out straight, to anchor the band, and pull the other foot towards your bottom against the resistance of the band.

  4. Repeat 10 times on each leg, then rest, and complete 2 more sets.

6. Lat Pulldowns

Your lats are so important for swimming, and strengthening them will only improve your power during the pull phase of your stroke.

  1. Hold a resistance band in both hands, about 30cm apart.

  2. Pull your arms down and out to shoulder height.

  3. Return to the starting position and repeat 20 times.

  4. Complete 3 sets.

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