Meet your new, inexpensive workout buddy: the resistance band. These bands are a great way to strengthen every muscle in your body, especially those hard-to-target stabilizer muscles around the hips and shoulders.
Meet your new, inexpensive workout buddy: the resistance band. These bands are a great way to strengthen every muscle in your body, especially those hard-to-target stabilizer muscles around the hips and shoulders. Unlike weight machines or free weights, resistance bands provide tension through the entire movement and stimulate the recruitment of more muscle fibers. This workout is designed to help you build functional strength and body control while maintaining mobility. You'll need one resistance band of medium tension and something stable for the band to loop around.
1. Shoulder Opener
Many of us lack shoulder mobility because of an imbalance between our chest and back muscles. This can be a result of bad posture or an overemphasis on pushing exercises like push-ups and not enough pulling exercises like pull-ups. This move brings you back into balance. HOW TO DO IT: Stand with one end of the band in each hand. Spread your hands slightly wider than shoulder-distance apart and hold the ends so the band rests on your quads. Reach your arms overhead, and then back behind you. Avoid arching the lower back. Do eight to 10 repetitions.
2. Overhead Squat Press and Twist
This exercise helps create stability in the body and helps you maintain spinal mobility as you aim to rotate through the mid-spine while keeping the hips square. HOW TO DO IT: Take one end in each hand and stand on the resistance band with feet hip-distance apart. Squat down and bring the ends by your shoulders. Stand as you simultaneously extend your arms overhead. At the top of the movement, twist to one side as you keep your hips facing forward. Inhale to return to center and repeat on the other side. Perform 10 reps on each side.
3. Side Step
Your body is designed to move in multiple dimensions, but people often limit their movements to forward and backward ones. This exercise gets you moving side to side to strengthen the hip abductors — the muscles responsible for drawing the legs away from the body. HOW TO DO IT: Stand on the resistance band with feet hip-distance apart. Crisscross the band to form an X and pull up on the ends to bring your elbows by your side. Squat down, sitting your weight into your heels, and take a step to one side. Bring your other foot to meet it. Go side to side, staying low for 30 repetitions (15 steps to each side).
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4. Lat Pull-Down in Chair Pose
Pulling exercises are just as important as pushing exercises. This move helps you build strength through the entire backside of the body — your glutes, low and mid-back and lats. HOW TO DO IT: Attach the band to an anchor like a pole at least one foot above you. Take one end in each hand and stand with feet hip-distance apart or slightly narrower. Inhale, extend the arms up overhead, and then exhale as you bend the knees and lower your thighs toward parallel with the ground. Hold this position while you pull your elbows down by your ribcage so your arms form a W shape. Slowly release back to the starting position. Perform 10 repetitions.
5. Stability Lunge and Twist
This is a great exercise to strengthen the core because it targets the abdominals, obliques, glutes, abductors and the muscles of the low back. HOW TO DO IT: Attach the band to a fixed anchor at midlevel. Stand with the band on the outside of your right hip, twisting to hold both ends. Step the right leg forward into a lunge. Bend both knees to form 90-degree angles. Inhale as you turn toward the right. Exhale as you twist to the left, pulling the band taut. Perform 10 repetitions on both sides.
6. Upward Fly in Warrior I
This exercise challenges you to stay centered in your core and builds strength and control around your shoulders. Throughout the pose, you can explore whether one hip hikes up higher than the other, if the hip flexors are tighter on one side or if the shoulders cave in. HOW TO DO IT: Attach the resistance band to an anchor at midlevel. Face away as you hold one end in each hand. Step your left foot back about three feet. Turn the left foot out 45 degrees. Bend your right knee. Sweep your arms overhead until they are shoulder-distance apart and the elbows align with your temples. Slowly exhale as you return to the starting position. Perform 10 repetitions, and then switch legs.
7. Warrior III Rows
This move will challenge both your balance and your strength. Balancing poses help bring calm to the mind because you have to focus to keep from tipping over. This exercise strengthens the calves, glutes, low back, middle trapezius, rear deltoids and biceps. HOW TO DO IT: Place the band beneath the arch of your right foot and hold the ends at your hips. Put a slight bend in your right knee. Hinge forward from the hips, bringing your chest parallel to the floor while simultaneously lifting your left leg. Bend the elbows to perform a row. Squeeze at the top of the motion, and then release the arms slowly. Perform 10 repetitions on both legs.
8. Abdominal Crunch and Triceps Extension
This move strengthens and tones your entire upper body and core by targeting the abs and triceps. HOW TO DO IT: Loop the band over a bar overhead. Kneel and hold one end of the band in each hand. Form a 90-degree angle at the elbows with the elbows by your temples. Contract your core and hinge at the hips as you pull the navel in toward the spine and round your back to come forward. Hold this position as you extend your arms straight by contracting your triceps. Perform 20 repetitions.
9. Glute Kickback With Ab Pull-In
Tight hip flexors and weak glute muscles can lead to decreased hip mobility, low-back pain and increased risk of injury. This move helps strengthen and firm your backside and stretches the lower back at the end. HOW TO DO IT: Come onto all fours. Loop the band around the arch of your right foot, pinning the ends beneath your palms. Extend your right leg behind you. Keep your foot flexed and the glutes contracted. Exhale as you draw your right knee in toward your chest, round your back and draw the navel in. Perform 10 reps on each side.
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10. Hamstring Stretch
You've worked hard! It's time to stretch it out and relax. HOW TO DO IT: Lie on your back. Loop the band around the arch of your right foot. Hold one handle of the band in each hand. Lift your right leg straight up, stacking the foot and knee over the hip. Keep a slight bend in the knee. Engage the quadriceps to lengthen the hamstrings. Keep your lower back pressing toward the floor. If you begin to feel your left hip roll or if your low back arches, bend your left knee and place the foot on the floor close to your glutes. Breathe for 10 long, deep breaths on both sides.
What Do YOU Think?
Is this workout for you? If so, can you commit to performing this workout at least twice per week for the next four weeks to cultivate more strength and balance in your body? We would love to hear about your experience! Tell us in the comments section below.