Resistance bands are a great alternative to weights since they take up little storage space and can travel much lighter, but just like weights, there are about 101 ways to use resistance bands. My favorite way to incorporate resistance bands into a workout is for toning. Exercises that use resistance bands for toning help with the legs, arms, back, and abs and most have intermediate and advanced options as well. These are just a few ways to use resistance bands that will add some kick to your workout and help tone those hard to reach muscles, all at once!
1. Squat Press
One of my favorite ways to use resistance bands is to tone a couple of different muscle groups at once. With squat presses, you are toning arms, back, and legs. Get into squat position with the band evenly under each foot and the ends held in each hand. Squat down and hold the squatting position while you raise your arms over your head. If you want something more advanced, squat down and come back up, then raise bands over head - this will give a bit extra resistance!
2. Resistance Band Push-Ups
These are great for giving your hum-drum push-ups some extra oomph. Get into push-up position and wrap the resistance band around your back and under your arms. Bunch most of the band in each hand so there is only a small amount of slack when you are close to the ground. Then, start doing your push-ups. The extra resistance will make your arms work a little harder and help tone those harder to reach areas.
Ok, these have seriously become my new favorite exercise, it will work your outer thigh and bum like madness! Lay on your side with your feet stacked on top of one another and tie the resistance band around your ankles. Make sure that there is a little bit of slack when your legs are together, or your ankles will be a touch sore in the morning. Start the exercise by lifting your upper leg as far as you can while keeping the hips and torso even and the lower leg on the floor. Hold the leg in the raised position, then bring it back down. I like to use a five pound band for this and do one minute or more per leg.
4. Crunch with Lateral Pull-down
These will give a whole new meaning to crunches! Tie the middle of your resistance band to something that can support the weight, like a door handle. Then, hold the ends of the band in either hand with arms extended above your head. Lift your legs off the floor and bend knees so they are at a 90 degree angle. Begin by doing a crunch, then bring your arms forward so they touch your knees. Hold this position, then go back to starting. Twenty of these and your abs will be hard as stone!
These will work your oblique abdominals, arms, legs, and abs! Get into squat position with the band evenly under your feet and the ends in each hand. Squat down and bend your torso to the left while bringing the right elbow upward. Alternate from side-to-side without stopping in the center for at least one minute, your muscles will thank you in the end.
6. Side Stretch
Resistance bands are great for working out, but they are just as helpful in the post-workout stretching period. This side stretch will loosen up those obliques and arms just as well as these exercises have worked them. Sit with legs crossed and back straight. Hold the ends of the resistance band with each hand (you may need to bunch some up) and place your right hand on the ground. Bend your torso to the right while keeping hips on the ground and extend the left arm overhead. Hold this position, then repeat on the other side.
7. Leg Stretch
This stretch is heaven after running or an intense leg exercise! Lay on the ground with the resistance band around the middle of your foot and the ends in each hand. Flex your foot and pull it upwards with the bands so your foot is as high as possible while your hips are even on the ground. Hold this position for a minute or more, then rotate your foot to the side so it is a few inches from the ground. Be sure to keep pulling on the bands during the whole stretch, this will help get your calfs, thighs, and hamstrings nice and loose!
Resistance bands are used in Pilates, yoga, strength training, and as a replacement for weights when needed. They are so easy to use and are great for toning that it is no wonder so many workout incorporate them. What are some other great tools that you use to kick your workout up a notch or make them easier to do?