Remember in your 20s when you could effortlessly run five miles or touch a dumbbell and your muscles would explode? Then you turned 30 and suddenly had to work extra hard just to maintain your baseline fitness. Don’t feel bad, though. It’s totally normal to struggle to keep a lean body after 30, given that responsibilities and commitments tend to increase exponentially as you age. Despite the seemingly never-ending demands on our time, boosting your fitness is more than doable and doesn’t require heavy steel plates, dumbbells, or countless hours in the gym. We’ve rounded up some simple resistance band exercises for a fitter body after 30, so listen up.
Resistance bands can boost your fitness and increase strength after 30. This lightweight, portable exercise equipment allows you to do effective, time-saving workouts wherever, whenever. Additionally, resistance bands are easy on the joints, an essential consideration as you age. For example, a study published in the Journal of Physical Therapy Science found that resistance band exercises effectively treated patients with degenerative knee arthritis.
To help you sculpt the physique of your dreams, we chatted with Nicole Davis, CPT, a certified personal trainer with Garage Gym Reviews, who shares her top five effective resistance band exercises for a fitter body after 30. Keep reading to discover what they are so you can ditch the dumbbells and stop the wear and tear on your joints. And when you’re done, be sure to check out 5 Resistance Band Exercises To Get Stronger as You Get Older.
First up are banded thrusters. Resistance bands have the edge over free weights with this exercise since they’re easier on your knees, lower back, wrists, elbows, and shoulders. Also, using bands instead of barbells is safer for beginners to learn proper form and technique while getting in more volume (reps) to build muscle mass.
“You’ll need a big loop band for this move, which will work both the upper and lower body, plus your power and explosiveness,” explains Davis. “To perform a thruster, place your feet on top of the band about shoulder-width apart, grab the other end with your hands and assume a front rack position. Then, squat down, and explode back up, pressing the band above your head until your arms are fully extended.”
Row, row, row your way to a fitter post-30 body with banded rows. The best part is rows have several variations you can perform, all of which strengthen your back muscles, tone your biceps, and help improve posture.
To start, Davis says, “You can perform this move with a loop band or a resistance band with handles. In either version, you’ll step on the middle of the band with two feet, grabbing the handles with each hand. Next, hinge at the hips 45 degrees, then pull your elbows back, keeping your arms close to your body throughout the movement.”
Next up is the classic shoulder press. This exercise works the shoulder’s deltoid muscles just like with free weights, except it’s easier on your shoulders (Fun fact: Shoulder injuries account for 36 percent of gym-related injuries). Additionally, resistance bands increase “time under tension” and engage your stabilizer muscles for optimal muscle growth since you constantly work against the band’s resistance.
“[The] shoulder press is a super functional movement, meaning it mimics many daily activities, like putting something up on a high shelf,” says Davis. “To perform, you’ll step on a handled resistance band close to one handle and hold the other with your opposite hand. Bring the handle to shoulder level, then press up until your arm is fully extended. Slowly lower back down in a controlled motion.”
Another excellent banded exercise, the wood chop will give your core a serious workout while strengthening your upper body.
To begin, Davis says, “Use a loop resistance band for this move since they’re great for core strength, which is important for many things, such as improving your balance. To perform, you’ll step on one end of the band close to one edge, then grab the other end across your body. Then, starting from waist level, you’ll pull up and across your torso, keeping your arms straight, and end up near your head.”
The last of these exercises for a fitter body after 30 is the deadlift. When you hear deadlifts, you may think of massive weightlifters performing this compound movement with several hundred pounds on a barbell. However, resistance bands are also an effective way to use the deadlift to build lean muscle, increase overall strength, and dial in your form and technique for barbell deadlifts to prevent injury.
“The mighty deadlift is one of the best exercises you can do to strengthen your posterior chain,” says Davis. “Using a big loop resistance band, step on the band with both feet about shoulder-width apart and hold the top of the band with both hands. Next, hinge at the hips like you’re sitting back in a chair, keeping the back straight, until your hands reach about mid-shin level, then stand up to return to start.”