“No pain, no gain” the saying goes.
And it’s very much the case with resistance training.
But it’s worth it. For a little bit of physical effort – probably not as much as you think – your bones will reap some serious gains, which we’ll get to in just a moment.
And I get it!
Working out can be time-consuming and expensive, especially if you join a gym and have to travel a ways to get there.
But what if I told you that you could get your resistance exercises done from the comfort of your own home?
Even if you don’t have a bunch of space.
Scroll down and watch our video to see for yourself.
What is Resistance Exercise?
Resistance exercise refers to exercising your muscles using an opposing force.
It works because resistance makes your muscles contract, which builds their quality and strength. And resistance exercise is beneficial for your bones too because it:
- Increases core strength and balance: Having better balance and stability reduces the risk of falls and subsequent fractures. Especially in those that already have osteoporosis. A study of 60+ year-olds in Korea found that resistance exercise, with a Thera-band in this case, can improve both static and dynamic balance.
- Increases bone density, as well as muscle mass: Resistance exercise, puts the bones under stress, which strengthens them, as well as the muscles, ligaments, and tendons that surround them. A study published in the British Journal of Sports Medicine split 44 elderly women into two groups. The first was a control who were instructed to continue their normal lifestyle. The second group was given three one hour resistance strength classes a week for a year. At the end of that year, the women who took the classes saw an increase in bone mineral density in nearly every site measured, while the control group saw a decrease in nearly every site.
Resistance exercise can be done using free weights, resistance machines, tubes, or resistance bands. Basically, anything that requires your muscle to overcome a resistant force.
In the exercises below, we’re using resistance bands, but you can also use resistance tubes with handles. They’re a great low-cost, small-space option to getting your workout in at home, anytime.
What’s more, anyone can do these exercises. No matter your age or level of strength.
- Place your feet on top of the band, shoulder width apart.
- Hold the handles with an overhand grip and bring them up to shoulder height.
- Squat as far down as possible, making sure your knees don’t go over the front of your toes.
- With power, explode up and return to a standing position
- Do 4 sets of 12 repetitions.
Why the front squat?
Front squats work your entire lower body and will help with your strength and balance. They also work your core because you’re required to stabilize your midsection throughout the entire movement.
And if you think about it, the squat puts a demand on a whole host of muscles – primarily the hip extensors – that you use in everyday life. Like sitting down in and getting up from a chair. In fact, one study on squatting exercises concluded that using a chair during the squat exercise generates greater hip flexion angles in older adults.
- Place your left foot on the band and step your right foot slightly in front (about a foot).
- Raise your arms until you reach full extension, with your hands above your head and palms up.
- Return your arms back down to starting position, slowly. Your elbows will be bent and at shoulder level.
- Complete 3 cycles of 10 reps.
- Switch legs and repeat.
Why the overhead press?
The overhead press works your shoulders and triceps. This exercise also develops strength and stability in the abs, lower back, glutes and upper thighs, which are all important to reduce fracture risk. As your balance and strength increases, your risk of falling and fracture risk decreases.
Tip: If you’d prefer, the overhead press can be carried out from a seated position. Sit down and place your feet shoulder width apart with your band underneath them, with a handle in each hand. Then raise your arms until you reach full extension. This variation is actually the most common in clinical settings, as it’s believed to reduce the impact on spine posture.
- Tie your resistance band together around your thigh, just above your knees.
- Lie down on your left side with knees slightly bent and your legs stacked.
- Extend your left arm to rest your head upon.
- Keep your feet together and lift your right leg as far up as possible, without your feet separating.
- Lower down and return to starting position.
- Do 12 reps on each side, twice.
*Intensify this exercise by squeezing your glutes (buttocks) 2-3 times in the open clamshell position.
Why the clamshell?
This exercise targets your hamstring muscles and glutes, which are key for a healthy back and to stabilize your knees. If you sit for long periods (at a desk job, driving or something else that requires a lot of sitting) your glutes are in a stretched position and aren’t being worked.
- Place the resistance band across your upper back and loop the ends of the band through each thumb.
- Get in plank position and lower yourself to the ground, face down.
- Contract your core and glutes and push straight up until your arms are fully extended.
- Lower back down until your chest touches the floor.
- Do 5 to 20 repetitions, depending on your strength.
Modification: if you can’t do multiple pushups this way, don’t sweat it! You don’t want your technique to suffer as it will place stress on your spine. Modify this exercise by putting your knees down and pushing up from there. There’s a version of the push up for any ability!
Why the push-up?
The push up is a full body workout. It uses a large number of muscles, including your legs to complete the action. When you perform push-ups, you’re engaging your core, your legs, and your arms.
And the push up mimics our natural reaction to falling; extending the arms, hands, and wrists to absorb the impact. Writing in Harvard Health Publishing, Dr. Edward Phillips, of Harvard-affiliated Spaulding Rehabilitation Hospital, states that push-ups can teach us better muscle memory so we can react quicker and protect ourselves if we fall.
And remember – it’s not where you are now, but where you want to go that matters!
The exercises above use both resistance tubes with handles and resistance bands. Depending on your strength, you can get higher resistance bands and tubes. The different colors signify different resistance strength. You can buy these at any sporting goods store near you.