Resistance bands are a great tool for strength-training newbies. They help target specific muscle groups, improve coordination, and cost less than $15. If you're not sure where to start with a resistance band, each of these exercises will help you get acquainted with this toning tool.
The basic bicep curl is one of the first moves you'll learn in a strength-training routine. Skip the weights and try out a resistance band:
- Stand with both feet together, holding the handle of a resistance band in either hand. Step both feet onto the middle of the band, hips-width distance apart.
- Inhale, and as you exhale, simultaneously bend both elbows. Make sure you have the correct alignment.
- As you inhale, straighten both your arms, coming back to the starting position. This counts as one rep.
- Perform three sets of 15 reps.
Love 'em or hate 'em, squats are a surefire way to tone your legs and lift that booty. Be sure to engage your core as you move through this riff on the classic move:
- Stand up tall on the middle of a resistance band. Grip the handles of the resistance band at shoulder height with palms facing forward.
- Keeping your back flat, move into a squat position with control. Sit back and down like you're sitting into an imaginary chair, and lower down so your thighs are as parallel to the floor as possible, with your knees over your ankles.
- Press through your heels, and come back to standing. This completes one rep.
- Complete three sets of 10 to 12 reps.
If you're over slews of side planks or endless bicycle crunches, try this exercise to tone your obliques:
- Step on top of the band with your left foot, and step your right foot out so your feet are a little wider than hips-width distance apart. Reach the handle of the band with both hands. Your left hand should hold the band with your left palm up, and your right hand should hold on with your right palm down. Keep your arms straight, and make sure the band has a little bit of give, so you'll be able to pull it across your body.
- Lead with your right hip and pivot with your left foot as you "chop" the band across your chest, drawing a diagonal line over your right shoulder. With control, come back to the starting position. This completes one rep.
- Perform two sets of 15 reps moving to your right, before you switch sides and perform an additional two sets of 15 reps.
Strengthen your abs and tone your thighs at the same time with one move you can do lying on your back:
- Sit on a mat. Loop one handle of the resistance band on either foot. Hold onto the middle of the tube with both hands, and lie on your back.
- Draw your navel toward your spine, and press your low spine into the floor to protect your lower back, then lift both legs up so they are almost pointing straight up toward the ceiling.
- Holding the band securely, scissor your legs up and down one at a time, starting with the left leg. Move slowly, and point your toes. Each time your right foot lowers down counts as one rep. Complete 10 to 15 reps with each set. Start with 10 reps, and work your way up to 15 with time.
- To make this move more difficult, lower your legs so they are about six to 10 inches above the floor. Make sure to keep your abs scooped when you work with your legs close to the ground. Scissor your legs for another 10 to 15 reps.