Disclaimer: Please be aware that information in this article is neither intended nor implied to be a substitute for professional medical advice. Always seek the advice of a qualified health provider prior to starting any new treatment or with any questions you may have regarding an injury or medical condition.
Written by: Taylor Post CAT(C)
Certified Athletic Therapist
Mini Bands have recently gained popularity in the fitness world due to their versatility and effectiveness to build both strength and stability. Made of wide, flat elastic formed in to small loops, mini bands usually. They usually come in packs of 3-5 loops, with different resistances represented with individual colours. They are also inexpensive and extremely portable, making them a great way to workout at home or while traveling. Your local gym may also have a set as part of their equipment available for you to use.
Whether you are new to working out or have wanted to try adding mini bands into your regular fitness program, here are some exercises to help get you started:
1. Mini Band Squat
Place the mini band around legs (just above your knees) and then step into your squat position (feet approximately shoulder width apart). For comfort, the band should be flat against your legs. To initiate the squat, press your butt back and sit down until your thighs are parallel to the ground. Be sure to keep your weight in your heels (can wiggle your toes) and your chest up nice and tall. Push out against the band and do not let your knees collapse in as you squat down. Finally drive back up through your heels and return to a standing position. Repeat 3 sets of 10-20 repetitions.
2. Lateral Walk
Place the band just above each ankle and wrapped around both legs. Again, make sure the band is flat, not bunched. Start with your feet shoulder width apart and your knees bent slightly. Keeping your core tight, step left with your left leg. Then follow with your right leg, but try to avoid bringing your feet together—you want to keep some tension on the band. Continue walking left, one foot at a time, moving slowly and maintain the half-squat position (low and controlled). After travelling 10-15 steps (or another pre-determined distance), switch so that you are leading with the other leg.
3. Banded Knee Drive
Start by standing with the band around both legs at ankle height. Drive your right knee up as if you are going to sprint forward, bringing your left hand up for added power. Your right hand will naturally drop back to keep your balance. Pause at the top of the movement before bringing your foot back down. Focus on maintaining a square and balanced stance throughout the movement. You can either repeat 10-15 repetitions using the same leg, and then switch. Or perform 20-30 alternating knee drives. Try and complete 3 sets.
4. Glute Bridge
Begin by lying face up on the floor, with knees bent and feet flat on the ground. Place your mini band around your thighs, just above your knees. Keep your arms at your side with palms down. Lift your hips off the ground until your knees, hips and shoulders form a straight line. As you lift press your knees out against the resistance of the band. Squeeze those glutes hard and keep your abs drawn in so you don’t overextend your back during the exercise. Pause at the top of the movement before lowering yourself back down to the starting position. Repeat 3 sets of 10-15 repetitions.
5. Bicycle Crunch
For this exercise you will have the mini band around your feet. While lying face up, position your hips and knees flexed at ninety degrees so that your lower legs are parallel to the floor. Next, place your fingers on the sides of your forehead. Lift your shoulders off the floor and hold them there, this will help engage your abdominal muscles. Twist your upper body to the right as you pull your right knee in until it touches your left elbow. Simultaneously straighten your left leg. Return to the starting position and repeat to the opposite side. Remember to keep the movement slow and controlled. Aim for 3 sets of 20-30 repetitions (10-20 per side).
6. Triceps Extension
Start by holding one end of the band in each hand. Next anchor your left hand (and the band) in the centre of your chest. Make a fist with your right hand and then bend your right elbow to ninety degrees. Slowly press your right hand toward the floor, fully extending your elbow and squeezing through your triceps. Pause, and then reverse the move. Make sure to stand tall, keep your shoulders back and bend your knees slightly to activate your core. Perform 10-15 reps on each arm, for 3 rounds.
7. Banded Push Ups
Adding a mini band during a push up is a great way to challenge the stability of the movement. Place the band around both arms, just above the wrist. Get yourself into a high plank position, with your hands under your shoulders and abs tight. Your legs should be extended straight out behind you, with your weight in the balls of your feet. Splay your fingertips and keep your hands far enough apart to keep tension on the band. Keep your core tight and your glutes engaged as you lower down until your chest touches the ground. Then press back up to return to the start position. If you are not strong enough to do a full push-up, lower yourself down to the floor slowly but then use your knees to push yourself back up. Complete 3 sets of 10 repetitions.
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