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Jess's Favorite Moves with Mini Bands

Small.

Inexpensive.

Light.

Portable.

But do they really pack the punch they promise?


Okay, let's address the hype behind workouts with resistance bands

... Underrated?

Or Overrated?


Here's your answer: VASTLY Underrated! Here's why...


Reasons You Should Have a Mini-Band!


Time under tension

When training with Bands, your muscles actually receive a much greater stimulus than when working with Free Weights or Machines because of the resistance being applied during the full range of motion during an exercise. This alone allows us to better adapt and strengthen our movements!


High Intensity. Low Impact.

Bands are also much less stressful on the joints, which makes them a great alternative to Weights or Machines while still practicing the same exercises.


Stabilization

Working with Bands demands a great deal of activation and stabilization of the core, so even when you are focusing on the legs or the arms, you are bound to get an amazing core workout as well!


Cheap & Versatile!

Mini Bands are inexpensive, AND incredibly easy to store and take with you EVERYWHERE! This leads me to potentially the most important and least recognized reason, training with bands offers a massive variety of movements that you otherwise may not have access to with other equipment, OR may not have ever considered!


Understand that if you are limited on equipment but do have Mini Bands in your arsenal, you are bound to diversify your movement patterns and become so much more creative with your workouts! A mini-band can add intensity to so many different types of movement that it like having an entire gym that can fit in your pocket.


Get Started with Mini-Bands

Ok so now that you are convinced of their usefulness and practicality, Iet's explore how to use this amazing piece of equipment!


Mini Bands (or the smaller, closed-loop bands) are typically used to strengthen the legs and the glutes, but can absolutely be utilized for full-body training!


I want to share with you 5 of my favorite exercises that you can do with your Mini Bands to build strength, stability, and balance!


1) Single Leg Squat with Glute Kickback

(recommended resistance: moderate-heavy)

Targets: Glutes, Quads, Core


Slide the Band around the legs so that it sits just above the knees. Begin with your right foot planted flat, and your left foot slightly behind you in a kickstand position so you are just resting on the ball of your left foot. Keeping your torso tall, sit your hips back and down into a squat position, loading about 80% of your weight on your standing leg, and only allowing your back foot to assist with balance and depth. As you press into your right foot to stand tall, kick your left leg back to flex your glute. Maintain a soft bend in your standing leg at all times. Carefully touch your left foot back to the ground, and repeat for 8-10 repetitions, and then repeat the exercise on the other leg.


Optional Modification: Assist with your hands on a wall or chair to help with balance.


2) Single Leg Deadlift with Single Arm Row

(recommended resistance: moderate-heavy)

Targets: Glutes, Hamstrings, Back/Lats, Core


Start by holding one end of the Mini Band in your right hand, and stand on the other end with your left foot. Stand tall with your shoulder blades drawn back and down, then hinge at your hips and allow your right leg to kick back while keeping your left knee slightly bent. From your single leg stance, draw your right arm back in a row by hugging your arm close to your ribs and imagining your elbow pulling towards your hip crease. Then carefully allow your arm to extend, and press into your standing leg to rise back up. Complete 8 repetitions on this side, and then repeat the set on your other side.


Optional Modification 1: Assist with your non-working hand resting on a wall or chair for support.


Optional Modification 2: Rather than lifting your leg off the ground, you can step back into a "kickstand" position as described in the first exercise.


3) Extended Clamshells

(recommended resistance: moderate)

Targets: Glutes, Abductors, Obliques, Shoulders


Slide the Band around the legs so that it sits just above the knees. Lay on the floor on your right side in what I love to call the "lazy mermaid" position: right elbow tucked underneath the right shoulder, and both legs stacked with a 90 degree bend at the knees so your feet are kicked behind you. There should be a relatively straight line from your shoulders down to your hips and your knees. The first step in the movement is to press into your supporting forearm and shin so that your hips lift into a modified side plank position. Keep your chest open and squeeze your glutes so the front of your hips press forward, then externally rotate your top leg so the hips are open and both glutes are working simultaneously. Lower the hips back down softly, and complete 10-15 repetitions on this side, before switching to the other side.


Optional Modification: Rather than pressing your hips away from the floor, keep them down and practice Clamshells - only the abduction of the top leg. The body still maintains a relatively straight line, but you will only externally rotate the top leg to fire the glute, and then lower back down.



4) Bicycles

(recommended resistance: light-moderate)

Targets: Abdominals, Hip Flexors


Set up your Mini Band around the middles of your feet. Lay on your back with your knees stacked over your hips and shoulders curled up, ensuring that your lower back is grounded. Bring your fingertips behind your ears, and while keeping your feet constantly flexed, extend your right leg and twist your right armpit across your body so the right elbow and left knee draw together. Return to center and continue alternating the repetitions side to side, keeping the opposite arm and leg drawing towards each other. Complete 20 total repetitions.


Optional Modification: Allow the head and shoulders to lay back to the floor between repetitions, and do not extend your leg fully.


5) Plank Lateral Sidesteps

(recommended resistance: light-moderate)

Targets: Shoulders/Rhomboids, Chest, Core


In this exercise, the Band will be around the wrists. Find a high plank position with the hands stacked below the shoulders and the feet slightly wider than shoulder width. Keeping your core strong so that your hips don't shift from side to side, gently tap one hand to the side and bring it back to center. Alternating hands, and keeping the arms as straight as possible, complete 10-20 total repetitions.

Optional Modification: Rather than holding high-plank position, come into tabletop with the knees underneath the hips, and as you sidestep the hands, extend the opposite leg behind you to create the same stabilizing effect.


Mini Bands are small, but mighty! Try out a few of these movements as a stand-alone workout, or as an addition to another one of your training days! (Spoiler alert, these are amazing movements to use as warm-up exercises before higher intensity/high impact training, so feel free to stack one or a few onto another workout)


For a more in-depth guide to using your Mini Bands, watch my BANDED BLAST: ESSENTIALS video on demand! And if you loved these moves and you're eager to build your repertoire of banded exercises, check out my BANDED BLAST: HIPS & THIGHS workout for a fun challenge!


ABOUT THE AUTHOR:

Jess Spence is a Personal Trainer, Yoga Teacher, and all around lovable badass who will make you sweat with a smile. Jess's love for fitness and mindfulness practices run side-by-side as exercise and meditation became important, life-changing self-care practices for her. Jess is a featured instructor on Practice Everywhere and she also is a sought-after personal trainer who has brought her spicy, upbeat style of training to P.E. through Premium Courses as well as virtual personal training.


Do you have body transformation goals or need an accountability partner with the skills to tailor a training plan personalized to your body and your goals? Train privately with Jess.

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