Resistance bands are the ideal portable exercise aid. They’re so small and light that you can take them anywhere. At work, at home, in the gym or even exercising outside, they give you the same ability to isolate and work individual muscles and muscle groups that the much larger, more expensive and less portable equipment in a gym provides.
Squats for Upper Legs
Squats are a compound exercise that work your glutes, hamstrings and quads. Doing squats with body weight alone may be enough for a challenge for out-of-shape beginners. Once you’re ready for more resistance, it’s easy to add resistance bands. To do squats with a resistance band, hold one handle or band end in each hand and step on the middle of the band with both feet, shoulder-width apart. Bring both hands up to shoulder height, palms up and fingers pointing back, as if you were holding a barbell across the back of your shoulders. Squat down, thrusting your hips out behind you, then reverse the motion to stand up against the band’s resistance.
Lunges work your glutes, hamstrings, quads, hip adductors and calves. As with squats, you may need to start with body weight lunges, then work your way up to the resistance band’s extra challenge as your legs get stronger.To do lunges with a resistance band, hold one handle or band end in each hand, elbows bent, hands tucked beneath your chin. Take a large step forward with your right leg, stepping on the middle of the band. Drop your hips straight down and let your left heel come off the floor until both knees are bent at a 90-degree angle; adjust your stride length, if necessary, to achieve this. Stand up against the band’s resistance. Continue bending and straightening your legs, lowering and lifting your hips, until you’ve completed a full set of lunges with your right leg forward. Then switch to the other side.
Standing Hamstring Curls
Standing hamstring curls isolate your hamstrings and challenge your core as you work to keep your body steady. To do standing hamstring curls, tie one end of the resistance band in a knot and shut it in a door just below knee-height. Tie the other end around your right ankle, or if the band has handles, create a loop by passing one handle through the other handle, then place your right ankle inside this loop before shutting the loose end in the door. Face the door and keep the rest of your body motionless, knees together, as you bend your right knee against the band’s resistance, then slowly straighten it back to the starting position.
Hip abduction works your gluteus minimus, gluteus medius and gluteus maximus. To do hip abduction with a resistance band, tie the band in a loop and place it around your thighs, just above your knees. Sit down on a chair and scoot forward to the edge so that your legs can move freely. Spread your knees apart against the band’s resistance, then slowly bring them back together again.