Alternative exercises to gym machines

fitness workout

(© Maridav – stock.adobe.com)

There are many reasons you may want alternative exercises to gym machines. I imagine it’s one of these:

  • You don’t have gym machines in your home
  • You want a portable solution so you can work out anywhere
  • You are looking for a gentler way to build strength, either because you’re recovering from an injury, or some other reason
  • You just don’t like gym machines

Any of these reasons are excellent ones to start doing some of the exercises below.

And if you want to kick things up a notch – in other words, get more results for the same amount of work-out time – add in some resistance bands, like this pull up band.

These exercises will give you a full-body work-out, with not a gym machine in sight.

Upper body work-outs

Why are resistance band exercises great for arm work-outs?

Because the further you stretch the band, the higher the resistance level. So the stronger you get, the stronger the resistance, enabling you to keep progressing.

Bent over row

Stand with your feet hip-distance apart. Loop the middle of the resistance band underneath your feet, and grab hold of each loop with your hands.

Bending at the waist, arch your lower back, and stick out your backside. Keep your upper body straight while pulling the band up towards you. Make sure your elbows stay close to your body as you move, with your shoulder blades squeezed together.

Return slowly to your starting position, then repeat.

Shoulder press

Stand with your feet together. Put one end of the band under your feet (in the middle of your feet). You don’t want the band to be too far forward or too far back, because if it comes out from under your feet and snaps you, it will hurt!

Grab the other end of the band with your hands. Bring the top of the band up to shoulder height. Then raise your arms above your head (as you would do an overhead press except without the machine). Push up till your arms are straight.

Return to your starting position, and repeat.

Bicep curls

Stand with your right foot on top of the band. Loop the other end of the band around your right hand and do bicep curls. Be sure your elbow stays close to your body as you move.

Repeat the same thing on the other side.

Variation: Stand with both feet on the band. This will further increase the resistance.

Incline chest press

You’ll be taking the same stance as if you were in front of a machine. Get into a lunge position, with the band underneath the middle of your back foot. Hold the other end in your hands so that you’re standing inside the band.

Raise your arms above your head as if you were doing an inclined chest press on a machine. Straighten your elbows at the top (without locking them), then gently come back to your starting position.

Repeat on the other side.

Chest pull (towards your face)

Wrap the band around a fence, pole, or another heavy object. Hold the other end of the band with your hands, and stand with your back straight.

Have your hands shoulder-width apart.

Pull on the band so that it comes toward your face, keeping your elbows high. Squeeze your shoulder blades together when the band is closest to you. Relax and repeat.

Tricep extensions

Keeping the band secured where it is, grab the other end with one hand. Standing in a slight squat, start with your elbow bent and pull the band towards you till your arm is straight out behind you.

You can support yourself with your other hand on your knees.

Return slowly to the starting position. Repeat, then change sides.

Pushups

Put the band around your back at chest level. The other end of the band needs to be underneath your hands, on the floor or a mat. Do pushups so that the band is taut when your arms are straight.

Lower body exercises

Standing squats

Stand up straight, keeping your feet slightly wider than hip-distance apart. Put the band underneath the middle of your feet.

Get into a squat position and loop the band up over each shoulder.

Now rise into a standing position, making sure your knees are over your toes. Return to the starting position and repeat.

Leg curls

Lie face down on a mat and loop one end of the band around your ankle and the other around a door or stationary object. Move forward until the band is taut.

Tighten your core muscles, and bend your knee. Try to bring your heel as close to your glutes as you can. Slowly return to the starting position. Repeat, then switch sides.

Glute bridge

Lie faceup on a mat with the band around your thighs (not your knees. You want to go easy on your joints). Bend your knees 90 degrees, with your feet flat on the floor.

Raise your hips while contracting your glutes. Make sure your knees are pressing out, and your hips, shoulders, and knees come into alignment at the top. Sink back down slowly and repeat.

Whew! I hope you felt the burn! You can see that you really can get an excellent full-body work-out, with no need for machines. Enjoy!


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