You’re stuck at home as it pours down snow outside. The weather channel is cluttered with flashing alerts that discourage travel of any kind. Being fully committed to your workouts, you peek out a frosted window at the treacherous street. It can’t really be that bad, can it? Instead of risking a collision, or attacking the roads in your new pair of ice skates, stay home with an exercise band. With your band in hand, and a little creativity, you can get the total-body workout you crave right from your living room.
The thickness of an exercise band typically indicates the amount of resistance. In other words, using a thicker band equates to selecting heavier weights in a gym. You want to select a band that challenges you while still allowing you to do the exercise with safe form. If you find yourself at the store, torn between two sizes, select the thinner one. There are ways to make this lighter band feel heavier, but you can’t make a heavier band lighter. We will discuss this more later.
LYING SINGLE-LEG PRESS
Lay with your back flat on the floor. Extend your right leg forward and wrap the band around the arch of your shoe. Bend your left leg so your foot is flat on the ground. Holding on to the cable with each hand, lift your right leg so your knee is at a 90-degree angle. Lower your elbows to the ground so your arms also form 90-degree angles. Remove any extra slack in the band between your hands and your right foot. This is your starting position.
Now, strengthen your lower body by pressing your right leg forward and down, then bring it back to the 90-degree start position. That is one repetition. Not only are you working the muscles of your legs, but you are also promoting increased stability and bicep strength. As your leg presses forward, your biceps engage to keep your arms at the 90-degree angle. They counter the force provided by your leg. The stabilizing muscles of your leg are prompted to kick into gear as you work to move your foot in a straight line.
If you want to go up in weight, like on a machine, grab the band at a spot closer to your foot. Reach down, and pull your arms back to 90 degrees. You should now feel more tension, which means greater resistance during the exercise. Once you have completed one set on the right leg, switch to the left.
LYING CHEST PRESS
Strengthen your chest, triceps, and the front of your shoulders with a lying chest press. Start by wrapping the band around your upper back and bring it forward, under your arms. Next, lay with your back flat on the floor. Bend your knees to prevent arching in your lower back. With your arms at a 90-degree angle, hold one side of the band in each hand and remove extra slack. You should now feel tension in the band. If there is extra material hanging down between your hands, use it to create a handle on each side as pictured below. Starting with your elbows on the ground, fists raised, press your hands up and together, then back down to starting position. You will feel the band providing resistance as you push.
This exercise can also be performed while seated. The movement is the same, but your torso is vertical instead of horizontal. Sit with your back flat against the back of a chair for added stability while you press. Keep your abs braced to prevent unnecessary strain on your lower back.
Have a seat on the floor with your legs straight out in front of you. Position the band around the arches of both shoes and sit upright with your shoulders back, abs braced, and slightly bent knees. Extend your hands straight out in front of you, then reach a couple inches further, tipping forward. Lower your hands and grab hold of the band, then return your torso to upright position. You should now feel tension in the band even when your arms are straight. This is your starting position.
Next, pull your elbows straight back, keeping them right by your sides. As you pull, squeeze your shoulder blades together to further engage the upper back. Then, return to start position and pull back again.
The seated row targets your latissimus dorsi, which are muscles that go down the sides of your back. These are actively involved in pulling motions such as rows and pull-ups.
In any total-body workout, we have to work the bum. While your gluteal muscles are also involved in the single-leg press, we can target them more specifically through a cable donkey kick.
Position yourself on all fours with the band around the arch of one shoe. Form a triangle with the band by holding the final two corners against the floor. With your hands on top of the band and flat against the floor, extend your leg back to form a straight line from the back of your head to the back of your heel. Squeeze your behind at the top of the move. Then, bring your knee back to starting position. Continue for 10 to 15 on the right side before moving to the left.
Have a seat on the ground or a chair with the cable secured under your bum. Keeping your elbows slightly forward, hold the cable in both hands. Starting with your elbows as close to shoulder-height as possible, press the cable up towards the ceiling, and back down.
Your shoulders and triceps get the training they crave in this movement. The shoulder muscles are responsible for moving your upper arm towards the roof, while your triceps straighten the elbow. By the end of three rounds, they will be applauding you for a job well done.
You’ve Got This!
Regardless of bad weather, car trouble, or days you find yourself stuck in pajamas, you can still get an effective workout. As you build strength, continue challenging yourself by either pulling the band tighter or doing more repetitions. No gym doesn’t have to mean no training. So grab a band, brace your abs, and get some great training!
Lift Smart. Love Hard. Stay Positive.