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8 Ways to Challenge Your Muscles with Resistance Bands

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Don't you hate it when your workouts seem to stagnate and your progress slows? Plateauing is very common, and it's a sign that you've either been training too hard or not hard enough.

Check out these 8 exercise that will push your muscles to their limits. Do these for a week or two, and when you get back to your regular routine, you'll find you have much more strength and can finally break through that plateau! The trick: resistance bands.

1. Barbell Squat

Attach the resistance bands to the top of a power rack and to the barbell. When you squat, the bands will stretch, reducing the load on your back and working like "training wheels" to make the exercise a bit easier. You can add more weight thanks to the reduced load.

2. Deadlift

Step up your deadlift with this simple addition. Attach resistance bands to the barbell and the bottom of the power rack. When you lift (stand up), the resistance increases and makes the exercise more challenging, even with the weight you're accustomed to lifting.

3. Bench Press

Attach the resistance bands to the bottom of the weight bench, thereby increasing the resistance the higher you push the bar. The weight remains the same, but it gets harder to lift as you reach the top of the press.

4. Bench Press Alternate

Run a resistance band around the underside of the bench, attaching both ends to the barbell. When you press, there is a bit of instability that forces your core to engage in order to keep the weight stable.

5. Upright Rows

Attach resistance bands to the bottom of the power rack and both ends of the barbell. Pull the weight up toward your chest, and the resistance will increase as you go higher.

6. Barbell Curls

Get the lightest resistance band you can find, and attach it to your barbell or E-Z-Curl bar as you prepare to do Bicep Curls. Do one set with the band, and increase the resistance on each set. The amount of effort needed will increase as you come closer to you come to your chest, but there will be minimal effort during the eccentric phase of the exercise.

7. Leg Curls

Using a leg-curl machine is a good way to work those hamstrings, but adding a resistance band makes it even harder -- ergo, a better exercise! Wrap the resistance band around the bottom of the curl machine, attaching both ends to the foot stirrup. As you curl the machine toward your bottom, the resistance will increase, thereby making it harder without adding any weight.

8. Ab Exercise

Want to double down on the effectiveness of any ab workout? Attach the lightest resistance band around your ankles for exercises like Leg Lifts or Jackknifes, running the other end around the bottom of the bench or rack. If you're doing curls, run the band around the underside of a bench and grip the two handles in your hands, crossing them over your chest.

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Some people get lucky and are born with fit, toned bodies. Andy Peloquin is not one of those people... Fitness has come hard for him, and he's had to work for it. His trials have led him to becoming a martial artist, an NFPT-certified fitness trainer, and a man passionate about exercise, diet and healthy living. He loves to exercise -- he does so six days a week -- and loves to share his passion for fitness and health with others.

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