This tiny fitness tool packs a serious punch.

By Rozalynn S. Frazier
July 10, 2020
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With most gyms still closed, people have been trying to find ways to get in their workouts (and maintain a regular fitness routine) at home. It's why many have resorted to building up their home gyms—but while dumbbells and yoga mats are both essential pieces of equipment, you may be overlooking one small (but mighty) fitness tool: a mini resistance band.

These small, portable pieces of rubber don't get nearly enough credit: They can be used for overall body strengthening by creating levels of tension on your muscles, and can increase mobility. They're also low-impact and joint-friendly. Basically, mini resistance bands are an all-in-one gym that can be easily stowed in your closet or taken with you on the go.

Right now—while many of us are still under stay-at-home orders—is the perfect time to take advantage of mini resistance bands with this 21-day challenge to help build strength and gain mobility. All you have to do is grab a mini band (pick your own resistance, but make sure to have a few levels on hand), carve out an exercise space at home, and follow the instructions below. This way, when you're finally able to go the gym again, you may be even stronger than you were before COVID-19 hit—or maybe you'll decide you don't need a gym at all to get in a good sweat.

Directions

Over the course of 21 days, you'll alternate working your upper body, lower body, butt, and abs (with rest days worked in, of course). Each day, do 3 sets of 12-15 reps for each exercise listed. On the final day—day 21—you'll do a "Total Body Burner," during which, you'll choose one exercise from each category (upper body, lower body, butt, abs) and do each move for 45 seconds, back to back, for 3 rounds, resting for 60 seconds between each round. See below for examples and directions of each move in this 21-day challenge.

Yeji Kim

Upper Body

Half-Kneeling Single-Arm Row

Meredith

Get into a half-kneeling position with your right knee down and left foot flat on the ground; the mini band should be around the front of your left foot, with the other side in your right hand. Keeping your back flat, lean forward slightly, and pull your elbow back and up, near your right hip. Lower arm back to start and repeat. Do desired amount reps and then switch sides. 

Triceps Overhead Extension

Meredith

Stand tall with feet hip-width apart. Holding a resistance band in your right hand, palm facing body, bend your right elbow, lowering it toward the back of your right shoulder. Place your left hand behind your back at waist height, palm facing out, and grab the resistance band. Keeping your left arm steady, extend your right arm up. Slowly lower back down and repeat. Do desired amount reps and then switch sides.

Biceps Curl

Meredith

Get into a half-kneeling position with your right knee down and your left foot flat on the ground; mini band should be in the crevice of your left knee. Grab the mini band with your left hand, palm facing up, and curl the band up towards your shoulder. Slowly lower the band back down and repeat. Do desired amount reps and then switch sides.

Lat Pulldowns

Meredith

Loop a mini around both hands and make two fists. Extend arms straight overhead. Keeping your left arm in place, pull your right arm down, bending your right elbow to 90 degrees and coming in line with your right shoulder. Slowly raise right arm back overhead, and repeat on the left side. Do desired amount of reps, continuing to alternate arms.

T-Shoulder Raise

Meredith

Stand with feet hip-width apart, holding a mini band in front of your thighs. Lift arms to shoulder height and then extend both arms straight out to sides to form a T-shape. Bring arms back in, lower them back to start, and repeat for the desired reps.

Lower Body

Knee Drivers

Meredith

With a mini band around the forefoot of both feet, stand with feet shoulder-width apart. Drive your left knee up, then bring your foot back down to the floor. Do desired amount of reps, continuing to alternate legs.

Monster Walks

Meredith

Place a mini band around your ankles and stand with your feet hip-width apart. Bend knees slightly, and with abs engaged and glutes tight, take four steps forward, and then four steps backward. This is one rep. Keep tension on band at all times, and do desired amount of reps.

Squat to Lateral Leg Lift

Meredith

Stand with feet hip-width apart with a mini band placed just above knees and hands clasped in front of chest. Bend your knees, push hips back and lower into a squat. Rise up standing, and simultaneously lift your right leg out to the side; keep knee straight. Lower right leg down and squat again. This time when you rise back to stand, lift your left leg out to the side and then lower it back down. This is one rep. Do desired amount of reps.

Overhead Squat

Meredith

Place one mini band just above your knees and one around your wrists. Stand with feet shoulder-width a part, chest high, and abs tight. Keeping tension on the band, lift your hands above your head as you push your hips back, bend knees, and lower down, bringing hips to just below parallel. Push into heels to rise to standing. This is one rep. Do desired amount of reps.

T-Rotational Lunge

Meredith

Stand with feet together, slightly closer than hip-width apart, with a mini band in your hands, and arms extended, shoulder-width apart. Step your right foot back, lowering down into a lunge. From here, immediately rotate torso to the right as you pull the band apart, forming a “T.” Drive through your right heel to return to standing as you allow hands to come back together and the band to close. Do desired number of reps and switch sides.

Butt

Standing Glute Kickbacks

Meredith

Place a mini band around your ankles and stand with your left leg in front of your right; right toes should be diagonally behind your left heel on the ground, creating tension in the band. Claps your hands in front of your chest, squeeze abs, and tuck pelvis as you kick your right leg back, keeping your knee straight. Return your right foot to the ground, keeping tension in the band. This is one rep. Do desired number of reps and then switch sides.

Deadlift

Meredith

Place a mini band underneath the ball of your right foot, holding the opposite end in both hands. With a slight bend in your knees, hinge at your hips, lowering your torso until your hands are at or below your knees. With control, rise to standing. Lower back down and then repeat.

Clam Shells

Meredith

Lie on one side with a mini band placed above your knees and legs bent to 45-degrees; make sure your hips and knees are stacked. Keeping feet together and abs tight, raise your top knee as high as possible. Pause for one count, and then slowly lower your top knee back down. Do desired number of reps and switch sides.

Fire Hydrants

Meredith

Place the mini band just above your knees and get onto all fours with your knees under hips and hands under shoulders. Without shifting your hips, lift your left knee out to the side. Slowly return to start. Do desired amount of reps and switch sides.

Mini Leg Circles

Meredith

Place the mini band just above your knees and get onto all fours with your knees under hips and hands under shoulders. Without shifting your hips, lift your left knee out to the side. From here, perform mini clockwise circles with leg, followed by mini counterclockwise circles. Do desired amount of reps and switch sides.

Abs

Bicycle Crunch

Meredith

Place a mini band around feet, and lie face up. Lift your head and shoulders up, with fingertips lightly placed on the back of your head. Using your core, rotate at your waist, bringing your right elbow to left knee as the right leg straightens. Return back to center and then repeat with the opposite side. Continue to alternate.

Plank Jacks

Meredith

Place a mini band around your ankles and get into a forearm plank with abs tight. From here, jump feet out to a wide V-shape and jump them back in again. Continue jumping feet in and out.

Mountain Climbers

Meredith

Get into a straight-arm plank. With core tight and back flat, bend your right knee and raise it toward your chest. Reverse the movement to return to start, then repeat move with your left leg. This is one rep. Do desired amount of reps.

Dead Bug

Meredith

Place a mini band around feet and lie faceup with your arms extended straight up and legs in a tabletop position with knees bent to 90 degrees and stacked over hips. Keeping lower back anchored to the ground, slowly extend your right leg straight out, while simultaneously dropping your left arm overhead. Bring your arm and leg back to the start, and repeat on the other side. This is one rep. Do desired amount of reps.

Plank Tap Outs

Place a mini band around wrists and get into a straight-arm plank. Keeping your back flat and core tight, step the right hand out to the side and then back in, followed by the left hand. Next step the right hand forward and then back in, followed by the left. This is one rep. Do desired amount of reps.

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