If you want an exercise routine that can go anywhere you can, consider an exercise band. These rubber or latex bands are used to perform resistance exercises. They are lightweight and can be coiled or folded for easy storage or for packing in a travel bag. The best feature of an exercise band, however, might be the variety of exercises that can be performed with this inexpensive, simple piece of equipment.
There are many ways to use an exercise band to strengthen your legs. Leg abductions and adductions, for example, are done by placing the loop around both of your ankles, then pushing one leg against the band. During an abduction, the leg is pushing out to the side of your body, as if your legs were a pair of scissors. During an adduction, the leg is pushing against the band as it crosses over the leg that is holding you up.
Another leg exercise is the hamstring curl. In this exercise, the band is looped around both ankles. While holding onto the back of a chair, you bend one knee, pulling the band tight, until your leg is at a 90-degree angle.Return it back to starting position. Complete a set number of repetitions and repeat the exercise with the other leg.
An exercise band loop is good for the arms, too. One exercise that works both your arm muscles and cardio is the resistance-band jumping jack curl. Loop the band around the arches of your feet and take the other end in both of your hands. Move your feet as if you were doing a jumping jack, curling your fists to your biceps, then down into starting position and back into a curl position. You repeat this altered jumping jack motion for 20 seconds.
Another arm exercise is the lateral raise. Fold the band, put one end under your foot and then put the other end in your left hand. Pull the band as you raise your arm to shoulder-height and then lower it back into starting position. Perform this for your desired amount of reps and then repeat on your right side.
How long and how often you use the band will determine how effective the exercises will be. How many repetitions and sets you do with an exercise band loop depends on how fit you are. Generally, do at least one set of 20 repetitions. Resting is important, though. Take a 30- to 60-seconds of rest between each exercise set.
Do band exercises for at least 20 minutes, twice-a-week to maintain your fitness level. If you want to increase your fitness level, perform the exercises more often, but give yourself 24-hours of rest in-between each workout.
Before any band workout, warm up first to avoid muscle strain or injury. To properly warm up, do all of your band exercises three to five times without the band. Also, if you have any injuries or medical conditions, consult your doctor before performing band exercises.
Since 1998 Alina McKee has written for dozens of traditional and online beauty, fashion, health and parenting publications including Pregnancy.org, Mama Health and Real Beauty. As a professional artist, her articles about these subjects have been used in magazines and websites around the globe. McKee has a diploma in fine art from Stratford Art School.