Exercise Bands for Upper Body Workouts

Exercise bands vary in size, color and style.
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Tank-top-ready biceps, model-esque shoulders and blossoming bosoms used to come only through repetitive free-weight or dumbbell exercises. Strength training was the go-to to tone a perky upper body. While you can still reach for the weights, consider exercise bands. Affordable and versatile, the flexible, latex band lets you fine tune your workout to fit your needs and goals. Unlike bulky and heavy weights, exercise bands fit in your purse or gym bag for on-the-go workouts to accommodate your busy lifestyle.

Why Replace Your Weights

Modern life is busy, and not everyone has a chunk of time to exercise every day. Because exercise bands are lightweight and portable, they are easy to stash away in a gym bag, purse or backpack and tote along with you. Throughout your day, find some quiet time to fit in a couple sets of upper-body exercises. While studying, watching your kids' soccer game, or even cooking -- a watched pot never boils, or so the saying goes -- cramming in mini sessions with your exercise band is better than not exercising.

Types of Exercise Bands

Fitness stores will carry three types of bands: flat, fit-tube and clip-tube. Bands will vary in color and size -- lighter colors equal less resistance and shorter length will give more resistance -- and whether they have attachments. Flat exercise bands resemble thin, narrow sheets of latex, which are cut to needed length. They can be tied around arms, hands, shoulders, doors and bedposts for stability. Made from heavier latex, fit-tube and clip-tubes come with handles and attachments, like ankle bands and wrist straps.

Upper-body Band Exercises

If the exercise can be done with a hand weight, it can be done with an exercise band. Using any of the three band choices, you can do all seven upper-body exercises that the American Council on Exercise suggests in its Whole-Body Exercise Band Workout. ACE Fitness suggests doing lateral raises, bicep curls, chest presses, lat pull downs, upper backstretches and tricep and back extensions for 20 repetitions of each, twice a week.

Vary Your Workout Intensity

Exercise bands not only offer portability and flexibility, they offer affordable ways to intensify your workout. One exercise band can replace a whole set of clunky, hefty hand weights. A long enough band doubles and triples to increase the resistance it provides. You can even attach fit and clip-tubes together to include a partner in your workout. And if you just can't part with those 5- to 10-pound hand weights, tie the ends of your flat resistance bands to the handles during bicep curls for a tougher workout.

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