Strength training using resistance bands

(KARI STUART, CPT SYMMETRY TRAINING & FITNESS) -- The summer months have a tendency to throw off our normal workout routine. The warmer weather brings many opportunities for cardio exercise like swimming, biking, rollerblading, and hiking. However, it can be tough to squeeze in other workouts. Whether you're limited on time, stuck at home or off on vacation, the resistance band is an awesome, versatile tool to keep in your workout toolbox. Here's a 20 minute on-the-go, full-body strength training routine using just a resistance band and body weight.

Each of these are compound exercises which together work several muscle groups. Do 3 sets of 10-15 reps. Take about 20 seconds of rest between sets and no more than a minute between exercises.

1. Squat with lateral leg raise (alternating sides) – Step firmly onto the resistance band, feet hip width apart and raise the handles to your waist or shoulder. Slowly lower your hips, keeping your chest tall, and not allowing the knees to go past the toes. As you rise, extend one leg to left squeezing the glute muscle. Lower the leg and return to squat position.

2. Lunge with a kick back – get into a lunge position with the resistance band under the front foot and the handles by your shoulders. As you rise from your lunge, press the back leg into the air squeezing your backside and softly landing back into a lunge. Switch sides.

3. Biceps curl with a lateral raise - standing with feet hip width apart on top of the resistance band, tucking elbows tight to your sides, bring the handles of the band up for a biceps curl. Control your movement on the way down, and then bring your elbows out to the side raising the shoulder height. That is one rep.

4. Bent row with triceps extension – still standing on the resistance band, widen your feet and hinge from the hips, careful to keep a flat, strong back. Keeping the arms tight to the body, raise both elbows up, squeezing the shoulder blades together. With the shoulder blades raised, straighten the arms squeezing the triceps muscle and then return to staring position.

5. Seated Row with core stabilization- In a seated position, secure the bands around the bottom of the shoe. Choke up on the resistance band and pull the handles in towards armpits, squeezing your scapula in the back.

6. Shoulder Taps – Starting in a push-up position, shift your weight to one side and tap your opposite shoulder. Return to center and tap the other side. To target your chest, add a push-up. Keep your hips level and try to sway side to side.

Strength training should be done 2-3 times per week, and make sure you're enjoying some cardio exercise as well. Here are a few pre and post workout items to consider.

Hydrate. A common cause of exercise related illness in the summer heat is the lack of hydration. In order for our bodies to work most efficiently, we must drink water before, during, and after any exercise, and throughout the day – especially if you are the sun for a prolonged period of time.

Warm-up and Stretch. Before you begin to exercise, make sure your muscles are warm and loose, dynamic, moving stretches are a great way to warm up. Rotate the joints and spend a few minutes marching in place or side stepping to get warmed up. After your workout, it's equally important to stretch out the muscles you just worked.

Eat Clean. This is a tough one for a lot of us, but the fact is you cannot out-exercise a poor diet. Smart nutrition is the number one factor in building and maintaining lean muscle. If you need a place to start, try journaling using a free food tracking app. It's a real eye opener to look at the nutritional data of what you eat in one day. Calories are important, but also look at things like protein, saturated fat, fiber, sugar and sodium intake. A few days of honest journaling, and you should be able to identify some nutritional areas that need improvement.

So, best of luck in staying fit and strong this summer! Remember, this is an intermediate level workout, so if you are a beginner, some of these exercises may be too advanced, and I would suggest meeting with your physician and a personal trainer to get started on a safe workout regimen for beginners. If you are more advanced, adjust the number of reps and the amount of resistance to match your level of fitness. Enjoy!


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