Source: Thinkstock / Gabriela Medina
The next time you pack your bags for a vacation, remember to throw in a resistance band or two. "Resistance bands are so easy to pack in your luggage, and they weigh nothing because the resistance is built into the elasticity of the tube," says Laura Wilson, director of programming for Pivotal 5. Plus, since resistance band exercises engage your core, you can cut down your workout to mere minutes — which leaves more time for the beach. "A resistance tube is functional and puts you a little off balance, so you're going to be using your stabilizer muscles a lot more than you would be if you were using a standard machine at the gym," Laura explains.
Packing a bunch of different resistance tubes can still take up precious suitcase space, so look for ones with interchangeable handles to cut down on the bulk, Laura suggests. Lifeline, a Pivotal 5 brand, offers handles that fit with different tubes; you can also try the Xfinity Fitness Band ($30), which is one tube that can vary resistances based on where you grab the band.
Once you've found the right resistance band for your trip, it's all about carving 10 minutes out of your day for a full-body vacation workout that targets abs. "You can cut your workout down . . . and you don't even necessarily have to do a core move because everything is going to be working your stabilizers," Laura says. For bikini-ready abs without any hotel room crunches, read on for three travel-friendly moves that you can do in any space.
Resistance Band Squats
Source: POPSUGAR Studios
This is one of Laura's favorite resistance band moves because it's a total-body exercise. "You're going to get core work with any squat and obviously leg work. And holding the handles up by the shoulders puts a little more work into the upper body; you've got to keep your arms engaged as well," she says.
- 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.
Lunge variation: This move is very similar to the squat exercise.
- Step on the middle of your resistance band with your right foot, with your left foot next to your right. Grip the handles of the resistance band at shoulder height with palms facing forward.
- Take a controlled lunge (large step) backward with your left foot, lowering your hips until both knees are bent at a 90-degree angle. Make sure your front knee is in line with your ankle, not past it. Your back knee should be close to the floor but not touching it.
- Slowly push with your left foot to raise your pelvis a bit, then straighten your knees and return your left leg back to starting position next to your right leg.
- Repeat 10 times, then switch legs.
Resistance Band Overhead Press
Source: POPSUGAR Studios
This shoulder-sculpting move will help make you look and feel amazing in your vacation wardrobe. "Great shoulders make your waist look smaller," Lara says.
- Stand with your feet hip-distance apart with your right foot slightly in front of your left. Step on the middle of the resistance band with your left foot, holding the handles of the resistance band at shoulder height with palms facing forward.
- Raise your arms until elbows are extended and your palms are above your head, almost touching.
- Slowly return back to starting position (with elbows bent and palms at shoulder level).
- Repeat for eight to 12 reps, making sure you keep your form correct.
- Remember to breathe and keep your spine neutral and core engaged while you perform this exercise. Also, don't hunch your shoulders while you raise and lower your weights.
- Switch legs and repeat.
Haven't gotten enough of resistance bands? Follow along to our 10-minute resistance band video workout that will work your entire body.