Time is precious -- and if you don't have a lot of it to spare, it's still no excuse not to get in a daily workout. Whether you're on the road, you live at the office, or the gym is just not an option, resistance bands can give you the exercise you need, even in tiny increments. If you have 10 minutes to spare a few days a week, alternate between a resistance workout for your legs, and another for your arms.
Perform a biceps curl by grasping the resistance band loop in one hand, with your palm facing down, positioned in front of your hips or stomach. Position your other hand next to the first hand, and wrap the resistance band around your second hand until you've created a slight amount of tension in the band. Brace the first hand as you turn the palm of your second hand upward and move it toward your shoulder. As you do this, you should feel tension in your biceps muscles. Carefully lower the hand back down to complete one repetition. Another time-saving option is to place the middle of the band under both feet, and then to pull up on the band with both hands, moving from a bent-arm position to a position where the palms get close to meeting the shoulders.
Perform a triceps extension by wrapping the band around one palm, and then placing that hand at the small of your back. With the other hand, reach for the other end of the band, and then pull it around so that the second hand is positioned just in front of its corresponding shoulder. Pull on the band with the second hand to create tension in the band. Then extend the second hand and arm upward, working to position the arm straight up and over the head. Carefully lower the arm to complete one repetition.
Perform a chest press exercise to work the pectoral and triceps muscles. Wrap the band around the small of your back, and grasp each end with one hand. Position your hands slightly lower than your chest, and a few inches out from your ribcage, with your palms facing down. Create tension in the band by pulling or wrapping it around your hands. Then extend your arms out in front of you until they are straight, and complete the set by bending your arms back to the starting position.
Perform a hamstring curl exercise by positioning yourself in front of a steady bar or a chair. Tie the exercise band around both ankles, or place both feet inside a loop that is about 1 foot wide, depending on the type of exercise band you have. Place both feet on the floor, and then brace yourself as you lift one foot off the floor, bending the corresponding knee to create a 90-degree angle with the leg.
Keep the exercise band around both ankles to do leg adduction and abduction exercises. Stand next to the chair or bar so that it is at your hip. Raise the outer leg up to the side as far as you can, and then lower it back down to complete one repetition of the leg abduction. This should cause you to feel resistance in your outer hip. After one set, shift to leg adduction by placing your weight on the outer leg, and then lifting the inner leg out from the body and crossing it in front of the outer leg. This should cause you to feel resistance in your inner thigh.
Perform a squat exercise combined with an overhead press exercise. Place the resistance band under both feet and grasp each end with one hand, pulling the band up so that your hands are shoulder-height, just out from the shoulder cuffs, with your palms facing outward. Bend your knees and lower your buttocks into a squat or "chair" position, while at the same time pressing your arms upward until they're in a "V" above your head, with the elbows slightly bent. Come back to the starting position carefully.
- When time is limited, you may be only able to complete one set of 10 to 12 repetitions for each exercise. Whatever you do on one side of the body, be sure to do on the opposite side as well. If you have time after completing one set of each exercise on each side of the body, add a second set.
- Be sure to give your muscles time to rest and recover following any strength-training routine, or you may do more harm than good and set yourself up for injury. If you work arms one day, take at least 24 hours' rest -- if not 48 hours -- before working your arms again.
Nicole Vulcan has been a journalist since 1997, covering parenting and fitness for The Oregonian, careers for CareerAddict, and travel, gardening and fitness for Black Hills Woman and other publications. Vulcan holds a Bachelor of Arts in English and journalism from the University of Minnesota. She's also a lifelong athlete and is pursuing certification as a personal trainer.