3 Mini Band exercises you need to be doing!
If you were a gym go-er, like me, I am sure you have seen these tiny loop bands being used in the free weight section for fire hydrants and donkey kicks. So what is a Mini Band, you might be wondering, or more so why should you use them? Resistance bands work most similarly like free weights by providing some sort of external resistance that your muscles have to work against. While pushing against the resistance of the bands during an exercise, your muscles have to engage to fight the tension to keep your good form and not break it. What this means is you’re working against resistance throughout the whole range of your exercise, not just the position when you’re moving against gravity.
Most often then not, these little resistance bands seem to be used for glute related exercises. And nothing more. I am here to show you a couple of new exercises that you can use with these handy mini bands, in the hopes of shaking up your workout routine. Or changing your view on this versatile exercise tool!
Mini Band Lat Pulldown
This is an excellent example of how the mini band can be used to work your back muscles and upper body.
The set up: Put mini bands around your wrists, making sure your palms are facing away from you. Raise your hands over your head and push your hands apart, creating some tension in the band.
Step 1: Lower - Bring your elbows down to chest height, making sure to push out on the bands as you do this. Be sure to engage your back by thinking of squeezing your shoulder blades together.
Step 2: Rise - Bring your hands back up over your head to the starting positing. Besure to relax the tension of the bands at the top, when your hands are over your head.
Step 3: Repeat - Take a moment before repeating the steps. Feel free to repeat as many times as you like.
Looking for a challenge? Pick the next colour up for tension in your mini band pack. Alternatively you can slow down the movement, do a slow 3, 2, 1, countdown as you lower your elbows. Keep the rise step at the same tempo.
Bear Crawls with Mini Band
This is a full body exercise, that challenges muscles throughout the body to help improve coordination and performance in sports or day to day activities. The bear crawl targets shoulders, chest and back, glutes, quad and hamstrings, and your core. You will build both strength and endurance if you do this exercise regularly.
The Set up: Start on all fours with your hands and knees on the floor. Knees under your hips and hands under your shoulder. The Mini band should be around your wrists.
Step 1: Rise - Slowly rise by bringing your knees slightly off the floor, holding yourself up with your hands and your toes. Your knees should only be a few inches off the floor, hands flat on the ground with thumbs pointed at each other, and your back should be level. Make sure your butt is never above your head.
Step 2: Crawl - Move your right hand and left foot forward slightly. To start the key will be to take SMALL steps forward. Next move your left hand and right foot forward. This movement will be tricky and feel weird to start, take it slow and with time it will get easier! Take as many steps as you feel comfortable doing to crawl forward. I would recommend going the length of a yoga mat to start, then turning around and going back if it was not challenging enough.
Step 3: Rest and Repeat - When you have moved as far as you want to go, put your knees back on the floor and rest. Once you catch your breath feel free to repeat this exercise for as many times as you like.
Looking for a challenge? There are a few variations you can do! Start with putting the band around your knees. Next you can crawl forward, then do a reverse crawl by going backwards, instead of turning around. For the biggest challenge you can do a bear crawl box, where you move off to the right of your yoga mat, then backwards one step, to the left of your yoga mat, and finally forward one step to get back to your start position.
Mini Band Clamshells
This last exercise is a glute activation exercise, specifically gluteus medius, as this is an important muscle for hip stabilization, balance, and power. Having a strong, and functioning, glute med will help protect your knees and lower back from unnecessary strain during activity. This exercise is very important to combat long days of sitting, for those who work at a desk all day.
The Set up: Put the mini bands around your legs, slide it up to just above your knees. Lie on your right side with your feet and hips stacked (on top of each other). Your knees should be bent at 90 degrees and your head resting on your right arm. Draw your knees forward until your feet are in line with your butt. Place your left hand on your hip or on the floor to balance yourself if you need to.
Step 1: Lift knee - Engage your core and keep your feet together, raise your left knee as far as you can without rotating your hips (rolling backwards) or lifting your right knee off the floor. Hold your knee up for 1 second, while squeezing your glutes at the top of the movement.
Step 2: Lower knee - Slowly lower your left knee to the starting position, making sure to control this movement and not let the band pull your knee down.
Step 3: Rest and Repeat - Rest your left knee down and take a moment before repeating this exercise. Feel free to repeat as many times as you like.
Looking for a challenge? Use the next colour up in your resistance band tensions, or take your hand off the floor to engage your core and stabilizers muscles more.
As always, as a quick reminder before starting any of these fun new exercises, make sure that you consult your physician or trusted health care professional before starting this or any other fitness program to determine if it is right for your needs. If you experience faintness, dizziness, pain or shortness of breath at any time while exercising you should stop immediately and contact your physician immediately.