If you can’t get to the gym, and you don’t want to set up a workout room in your home, the answer to your fitness woes may be a resistance band. Pulling and stretching these rubber or latex marvels provides resistance that can tone your muscles and help shape you up from head to toe. And when your workout is over, just pop the band back in a drawer. If you’re looking to firm up your midsection, just jump on the band-wagon.
Step on the middle of your resistance band as you hold one end in each hand, then spread your feet shoulder-width apart.
Stand erect with your arms straight down at your sides and your head up. If you have a long band, position your hands shoulder-high, with your palms facing up and your elbows pointed forward. In either case, the band must be very taut when you're standing, to provide resistance while you're performing the exercise.
Inhale, engage your abs, then squat as if you were sitting straight down. Bend your knees and move your butt back until your thighs are almost parallel to the floor. Move slowly -- don't let the tight band pull you forward or pull you down too quickly.
Exhale as you return to the starting position, pushing against the band's resistance, which will increase as you rise. Perform 12 to 15 reps.
Lie face-up on the floor with your right leg extended vertically, your left knee bent and your left foot flat on the floor.
Loop the band’s center around the arch of your right foot and grasp the band’s handles or ends in both hands.
Exhale, tighten your abs and lift your upper body off the floor, while simultaneously lowering your right leg. Move your torso and raised leg as one unit, maintaining the 90-degree angle between your thigh and abdomen. Lift your torso with your abs; don’t pull on the band with your arms.
Hold the upright position for one to three seconds, then return under control to the starting position. Repeat for a total of eight reps, then perform the exercise with the opposite leg.
Fasten one end of the band to a secure point about 2 to 4 inches above the floor. Loop the other side of the band around your right ankle and move away from the anchor point so the band is taut. Have a chair nearby for balance and use it as needed.
Face the anchor point and stand erect to perform a hip extension exercise. Exhale as you move your right leg backward as far as you can, then inhale as you return slowly to the starting position. Do the same exercise in reverse to work your hip flexors. Turn your back to the anchor point, exhale, then extend your right leg forward. Keep your leg straight in both exercises.
Turn your left shoulder to the anchor point to work your hip abductors. Stand erect with both feet on the floor, exhale, then extend your right leg as far as possible to the right. Inhale and return under control to the starting position. Turn your right shoulder to the anchor point to perform a hip adduction exercise. Stand with your right foot off the floor, exhale, then extend your right leg as far as you can to your left. Keep your legs straight in both exercises.
Perform three sets of 10 reps for each hip exercise with both legs, or work up to that level.
- Move slowly when you return to the starting position, so you work against the band’s resistance moving in both directions.
- Resistance band exercises can strengthen your midsection, but they won’t spot-reduce any excess fat. Perform aerobic exercise to drop fat all over your body.
- Check with your doctor before beginning a new fitness program.
- Check your resistance band for holes or worn spots before you begin a workout. Don’t use a damaged or worn-out band.
M.L. Rose has worked as a print and online journalist for more than 20 years. He has contributed to a variety of national and local publications, specializing in sports writing. Rose holds a B.A. in communications.