Home workouts are great, I am all for them, however eventually you might want a bit of external resistance to kick things up a notch. But then you might not want to fork out for some fancy dumbbells or crazy weight machines and if you did then where would you keep them?? All good questions…
One bit of equipment you may want to consider is the mini band!
Mini bands are elastic bands in a loop (you can get the elastic bands that are not in a loop but this is not what we are talking about today) and they normally come in a set of 3 to five bands of different resistances. Adding mini band exercises to your workout can help progress your workouts so you continue to improve your strength.
Here are some exercises for you to try adding to your workouts…
Demi crab walks
You may have seen these on the gram, either in preparation fo squats or being dissed for not focusing on giving you a bigger butt (not naming names but not everyone is aiming to enlarge their bum). This exercise is great for activating your glute med which help keep your knees tracking where they want to be, something many people struggle with firing! This is a good exercise to use at the beginning of leg day or anytime you are performing squats and you find your knees tend to want to touch.
Step into the mini band and bring it up to just above your knees, you are then going to slightly bend the knees and then bend forward at the hips, lowering the torso but keeping a neutral and supported spine. Then take a few large steps to the side not letting your legs come to close together, then go the other way…it wont take long for this to start burning!
This is another exercise good for activating/ strengthening the glute med!
Step into the band and this time bring it to just above the ankles. Slightly bend the supporting leg and bend at the hips slightly lowering the torso..not too much it’s more for balance so keep your core engaged.Keeping both feet in parallel, take one leg out to the side, stretching the band, then slowly lower back to the floor…make sure you control the lowering phase of the movement against the pull of the band!
Very similar to the side kicks however you are extending the leg behind you…again control the lowering of the leg and try not to lower the torso as the leg moves up.
Lie down on your side with the band just above the knees, and bend your knees forward so your feet are in line with you or bum. Keeping the feet together, lift the knee of the top leg as far as you can against the resistance of the band. The aim of the game is to try and keep your hips facing forward (harder than it sounds!)
Lie down on your back with the band just above the knees. You want your feet apart and your knees bent with your feet flat on the floor. Tilt your pelvis under to start with then think about lifting the hips upwards until you are in a straight line from your knees to your shoulders. Then think abut rolling down the spine to slowly lower your hips to the floor. Keep your feet on the floor and your knees as wide as your feet! Think about keeping that band taught!
Deadlifts (Romanian deadlifts)
So, for this you want to stand with your feet parallel and a little bit apart. Slot the band under your toes (make sure they are secure, or you could get a mini band slap in the face!) and hold onto the band with both hands. Try to keep your knees soft or slightly bent throughout and focus on bending at your hips while keeping your back flat. Start by finding that position then start to straighten up to standing, keeping the core engaged and squeezing the hips forward at the top. Then reverse this by bending at the hips. Keep your hands close to your legs the whole way both up and down just like you would with the bar in a normal Romanian deadlift.
Archer face pull
This exercise is targeting the muscles in the upper back. Stand with your feet apart, holding the band with both hands. Take both hands up and to one side like you are holding a bow and arrow. Then pull the front hand back towards the face keeping the elbow up and squeezing in between the shoulder blades, then slowly return to the start position. Remember to tie your hair in a French plait for extra hunger games vibes.
Plank side walks
Place the bands around both wrists and get yourself into a full plank position (weight on hands, not elbows). Once in the plank position take one hand and the same side foot out to the side and then bring the other sides hand and foot in towards you…like a step to the side. Keep going making sure you are walking both ways. You can also try this one with the band around the legs/ ankles.
Get yourself into a plank position with the band in both hands. With one hand pull the band back towards the hip, bending the elbow and keeping the arm close to the body, then slowly lower back. The aim of the game here is to target the large back muscles and the core to keep you stable. You want to aim to keep the body as still as possible and not let your hips twist. Make sure you do this on both sides equally.
If you find a mini band in your gym or invest in one for your home, try adding some of these exercises to your session and see how you get on!!