Tone Up With a Resistance Band

From the WebMD Archives

By Kristin McGee

I love working out with resistance bands and I use them with all of my clients. They are portable, easy to pack and carry, simple to use and great for strength training or stretching. Because there's always tension on the band, the muscles get a great workout in a large range of motion. Resistance bands are great for physical therapy because they're low impact, which makes them safe for pregnant women, injured athletes and postnatal moms.

Simply, a resistance band is a piece of latex that is anywhere from four to six feet long. Resistance bands usually come in three forms: light, medium and heavy (depending on the brand, the tensions will vary). If you start with a light band, you can always adjust it to make it tougher. Bands can cost as little as $4 or as much as $8. Packages of three typically cost around $15.

Ready to get toned? See these three resistance-band exercises to get started.

Good: Sitting Exercises

Sit tall and wrap a resistance band around the soles of your feet. Holding each end of the band, pull your elbows straight back behind you and imagine you are squeezing a grapefruit between your shoulder blades. Exhale on the pulling action and inhale to release. Do 15 repetitions for a total of three sets. Concentrate on keeping your spine long and your abs tight.

Better: Squatting Exercises

Anchor the middle of the band around a sturdy object at waist height. (I like to wrap it around a doorknob.) Hold each end of the band and walk back until you have some tension in the band. Bend your knees, draw in your lower abdominals and pull the band back, elbows brushing your sides. Again, imagine you are squeezing something between your shoulder blades and feel the contraction. Exhale on the exertion. Perform three sets of 15 repetitions. The added squatting and standing up will work more muscle groups and burn more calories.

Best: One-Leg Exercises

Anchor the band around a sturdy object at waist height, hold each end of the band and walk back until you feel some tension. Stand on one leg, lifting the opposite knee up in the air. Keep the standing leg slightly bent and contract your abdominals as you pull your elbows straight back to your waist. Standing on one leg will challenge your core muscles -- great for balance and stability as well as toning the entire lower half of your body. If you want to get really fancy, you can pull one arm at a time, twisting your torso in the direction of the working arm.

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