Resistance bands are a convenient, low-impact way to sculpt your abs and get a great workout, without spending a ton of money or ever setting foot inside the gym. Instead of focusing on never-ending crunches, using resistance bands during your ab workout not only targets your core, but gives you a full-body challenge at the same time.
"Crunches are boring and aren't that relatable to our everyday life," says Angelo Grinceri, master trainer at P.volve. If you're over crunches but still want those tight, toned abs, Grinceri has put together a simple yet effective workout that targets the core using nothing but four moves and a resistance band.
"These full-body functional resistance training exercises stimulate different angles of the core, while challenging our balance and body control/coordination," he says. "Each exercise integrates the lower and upper body through core tension, while being challenged to move with control and maintain balance."
Read more: 3 Ab Exercises That Aren't Worth Your Time
Move 1: Standing Forward Toe Tap and Squeeze
- Stand up tall with your arms reaching overhead.
- Shift your weight to one leg.
- Start to reach the other leg (the weightless leg) in front of your body, toe tapping on the ground and acting as a "kick stand" to help you hold your balance.
- The weight-bearing leg should be in full hip extension, driving your heel into the ground to activate the glutes and core.
- Pull the toe tapping leg up and in, lifting the knee to hip height, fully engaging the core while simultaneously pulling your arms down to shoulder height.
- After stabilizing at the top of the movement, smoothly reach to foot back to the ground and reach the arms high again.
Reps: 8 on each side
Bring your focus to feeling the engagement from the lowest part of your core to the top as the front body lengthens and shortens, Grinceri says.
Move 2: Plank + Wide Straight Leg Raise
- Start out in a high plank with your wrists under your shoulders.
- Position your feet slightly wider than the shoulders.
- Actively engage your glutes and core to create a straight line through your heels, hips and shoulders.
- Raise one leg straight up without bending the knee.
- Lift the leg from the glute while keeping the core and hips completely stable.
- Lower the leg with extreme control.
Reps: 8 on each leg
Fight the rotation of the lifting leg and hips by really engaging the outer glute and oblique on the same side, Grinceri says.
Move 3: Hollow Body Alternating Leg Squeeze
- Start out in the hollow body position: Lying on your back, shoulders off the ground and straight legs. Arms framing the ears and pointing the toes long to fully engage the front side of the body.
- While focusing on complete core tension, pull one leg toward the hip with the foot slightly wider than the hip, stopping the motion when the knee reaches the hip.
- Lower the leg back toward the other foot under control, while maintaining core tension.
Reps: 8 on each side
Focus on actively pointing the opposite toe away from your midline to create a long body while under complete tension, says Grinceri.
Move 4: Side Reach & Diagonal Squeeze
- Start standing with one foot tapping out to the side and arms straight overhead.
- Lean slightly to the side opposite your toe-tapping foot to lengthen your entire side body.
- Drive the heel of the weight bearing leg into the ground to lift the body up using your glutes.
- Actively pull the lifting toe-tapping leg toward the outside of the body, raising the knee to the height of the hip.
- Simultaneously bring your arms down toward the knees to squeeze the entire core.
- Control the leg back down to the toe tap while reaching the arms back overhead.
Reps: 8 on each leg
Control the body through the weight-bearing leg, says Grinceri. As your hip position changes with the toe-tapping leg, feel the control and muscle activation traveling from the thigh, pelvic floor, glutes and deep core muscles.