Working with stretch bands has the benefit of adding resistance to your exercise routine with the added bonus of being a less expensive way to increase your strength than a gym membership or buying free weights or a weight machine. Using stretch bands also provides a steady resistance during the entire move, offering you complete resistance training throughout the motion of the exercise. You can use stretch bands to help you develop that flat belly of your dreams by performing exercises that work you lower abs, upper abs and obliques.
Diagonal Wood Chops
Stand with your feet about shoulder-width apart and loop one end of the band under your left foot. Grab the other end of the band with both hands, keeping them together with your arms extended down toward your left foot. Keep your elbows slightly bent and bring your arms up and away from your left foot in a motion similar to chopping wood. Rotate your trunk so your arms are lifted over your right shoulder. Hold this position for a second and use a controlled motion to return to the starting position. Repeat for an equal number of repetitions on each side.
Resistance Band Crunches
Lie down on your back with the center of the stretch band anchored under a door or another stable anchor. Your head should be closest to the door. Hold one end of the band in each hand and bend both of your elbows until your hands are beside your ears. Use the muscles of your stomach to lift your head and shoulders off the ground while keeping your arms stationary with your hands beside your ears. Hold this position for a second and slowly lower your head and shoulders until you reach your starting position. Repeat until exhaustion or according to your exercise plan.
Sit down on the floor with your legs extended in front of you and your toes pointing toward the ceiling. Loop the center of the band around the soles of your feet and hold both of the ends in your hands with your hands together. Use your side abdominal muscles to slowly rotate from side to side against the resistance of the bands with your elbows nearly straight. Repeat for your desired number of repetitions. This exercise can also be performed while standing by fixing one end of the band to a door or other stationary object.
Lie on your back with your knees bent. Lift your feet off the floor and bend both knees to 90 degrees until your lower legs are parallel with the floor. Fold the stretch band in half and hold one end in each hand with the center of the band across the front of your thighs. Place your head and shoulders on the floor. Lift your butt off the floor against the resistance of the stretch band while keeping your hands in the same position. At the same time lift your head and shoulders off the floor slightly. Slowly return to the starting position and repeat.
Keith Strange spent more than a decade as a staff writer for newspapers in the southeastern United States, winning numerous awards for his work. He has a B.S. in wellness/sports medicine from Averett University and completed graduate work in exercise physiology. Strange is a former competitive martial artist and holds a third-degree black belt in tae kwon do.