If youâre trying to build lean muscle and tone up, strength training is one of the best ways to get the job done. If you donât have access to a gym or youâre traveling, the resistance band can be a great tool to help you get in a complete full-body workout with just one small prop.
Because they range from 2-4 pounds to 35-40 pounds of resistance depending on the color, resistance bands are great for both beginners who want to focus on form before they build up to lifting heavier weights as well as seasoned gym vets. There are countless exercises you can come up with on your own; think about what you can do at the gym with free weights and cables and try to recreate the same situation at home with resistance bands.
Here are 7 exercises (using a band with handles) that you can try to get the creative juices flowing.
This exercise mainly targets the glutes. Start on all fours with the elastic anchored to a low hook and the handle on your left foot. Exhale as you extend your leg straight behind your body, being mindful to squeeze your glute at the end of each movement. Do 1 set of 15-20 reps on the right side and then switch to the left. Do 4 sets on each side.
This exercise is the opposite of kickbacks and mainly targets the abdominals. Kneel down on all fours, shoulders over wrists and hips over knees. Loop one end of the resistance band around your ankle and then other to a low hook or post. Draw your knee into your chest as you exhale, contracting the abdominals and return the leg to its starting position. Do 15-20 on each side. For an added challenge, do the exercise with your other leg straight, resting on your toes (that is, a full plank position or the top of a push-up).
RELATED: 10 Minutes to a Sculpted Stomach
Flat Chest Fly
Chest Fly is the same with a resistance band as it is with cables or dumbbells in a gym setting. Attach the band to something sturdy. Start with your arms wide open, holding onto the handles. Keep your arms in your peripheral view and be sure not to lock the elbows, but instead keep them softly bent. Exhale and close your arms together as if you were hugging a big tree and then open your arms slowly, resisting the band coming in. Do 3 sets of 15 reps.
Find a high bar or hook and wrap the band around it. The top of a door is perfect if you are at home. Kneel down facing the band and grasp the handles. Your back should be straight and your shoulders down and back. Pull the handles down to your chest as you exhale, squeezing the shoulder blades together, and then inhale to return the arms to the starting position. Do 3 sets of 15 reps.
RELATED: How to Do the Perfect Push-Up
This one is great for targeting the obliques and abdominals together. Find a spot to hook your resistance band at waist-level. Grasp both handles and step far enough away to create tension on the elastic. Your arms should be slightly rounded and your hands directly in front of your navel. Slowly twist your torso to one side, being mindful to use your core (and not your arms) to do the work, and slowly return to the starting position. Do 20 on one side and then switch sides. To really fire up the obliques, hold the last twist and finish with 10 quick pulses before switching sides.
Alternating Front Raises
Front raises work the anterior deltoids (the muscles on the front of your shoulders), and with the band you can feel even more of a burn than with dumbbells. Step onto the middle of the elastic, grasp the handles and lengthen your arms down toward your sides with your palms facing back. Exhale and raise one arm at a time; stop when you reach shoulder height and then inhale as you return to the initial position slowly. Do 20 each side, alternating each time.
Start by hooking one handle to the bottom of your right foot and wrapping the other handle around your right hand. Get on all fours, being sure to keep your shoulders over wrists and hips over knees. Bring the right leg up and hold it at a 90-degree angle with your thigh parallel to the floor. Slowly point your foot as you inhale, extending your right leg straight back and then flex your foot as you slowly exhale and bend the knee back in toward your butt. Be sure to keep the knee from dropping below that 90-degree angle or from opening too far out to the side (your leg should be in line with your body). You can also come down to your forearms (as shown) if you start to feel tension on your wrists or in your lower back. Do 3 sets of 20 reps on each leg.
For more quick workout ideas, check out A 7-Minute Workout To Build Definition And Strength.
Jennifer Cohen is a leading fitness authority, TV personality, entrepreneur and best-selling author of the new book, Strong is the New Skinny. With her signature, straight-talking approach to wellness, Jennifer was the featured trainer on The CWâs Shedding for the Wedding, mentoring the contestantsâ to lose hundreds of pounds before their big day, and she appears regularly on NBCâs Today Show, Extra, The Doctors and Good Morning America. Connect with Jennifer onÂ Facebook, Twitter, G+ and on Pinterest.