Fitness Tips

3 Mistakes That Everyone Who Wants an Effective Upper Body Workout With Resistance Bands Should Avoid

Zoe Weiner

When you want to mix up your upper-body workouts with a low-impact alternative, resistance bands have got your back (and biceps, and triceps, and shoulders). You can use them for moves like overhead presses, bicep curls, tricep kickbacks, chest rows, and pull-backs—aka pretty much everything you'd usually need dumbbells for. But in order to reap the full benefits of these moves, you'll want to make sure you're doing them right.

In the latest episode latest installment of Well + Good’s The Right Way, Colette Dong, founder of The Ness, a trampoline-based fitness studio in NYC, walks viewers through the right way to do an overhead press with a resistance band. The beauty of learning how to perfect your form in this exercise is that it translates to other resistance-band upper-body moves, too: Once you've got this one down, mastering the others in your routine should be a piece of cake. Keep reading for the mistakes you'll want to avoid, then check out the video above to find out how to fix 'em for the sake of perfect form.

1. Gripping the band incorrectly

The most common mistake Dong sees with resistance band-based overhead presses is an improper grip. Often, folks grip the band way too hard, and roll their wrists every which way in an attempt to keep it taut. “You don't want to overextend or flex your wrists, or do any weird flexing or crunching in the hands," says Dong. Instead, think about keeping your wrists in a natural position sticking straight out from your forearms.

2. Letting the middle go slack

“By letting the middle of that band stay slack, you’re not getting any of that juicy good resistance that you want,” says Dong. To correct this, you want to keep an even amount of resistance between your hands so that the band never dips in the middle, otherwise you'll be missing out on the full benefits of your workout.

3. Overextending in the shoulders

The final mistake Dong sees is people overextending their shoulders and allowing the band to pull their upper body slightly backward, which leads to over-arching in the tailbone. “This is extremely uncomfortable and puts too much pressure on your shoulders and low back," says Dong. To combat this, the right way to approach your posture is to think about standing with your body stacked. “Glue your ribs down towards your hips so that when you extend your arms up, the core stays engaged, the pelvis stays neutral, and the shoulders stack right over the hips,” says Dong.

Now that you know what not to do in your resistance-band-based overhead presses, press play on the video above to see Dong demonstrate the move in proper form. 

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