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Sometimes simpler is better, and herein lies the beauty of the exercise band. These long rubber tubes or loops come in different levels of tension and offer variable resistance, meaning the difficulty changes throughout the rep. “Bands work muscles in completely different ways than free weights and are perfect for building lean muscle tissue and adding strength,” says Edward Mooney, a trainer at O2 Fitness Club in Raleigh, North Carolina. They’re also TSA-friendly and can be used anywhere, anytime.
Technique — Chipper
In this high-volume, conditioning-style workout, you “chip away” at a list of moves performed in succession, completing all the reps of one move before going to the next and taking short breaks when needed. This technique trains skill, muscular endurance and cardiovascular stamina, as well as mental fortitude: While you might be tempted to hurry through your least favorite moves (hello, burpees!), you ultimately have to pace yourself so you have enough gas left in the tank to make it to the end.
The Exercise-Band Chipper
Complete all reps of one move before going to the next. Use good form and take short breaks when necessary. Want an additional challenge? Put a time cap on the workout.
20 Overhead Squats
30 Front-to-Lateral Raises
40 Glute Kickbacks (20 per leg)
50 Seated Rows
40 Seated Twists and Pull-Aparts
30 Banded Push-Ups
20 Burpees Over Band
Exercise-Band Overhead Squat
Stand with both feet on an exercise band about hip-width apart and hold a handle in each hand. Extend your arms straight up overhead and lock your wrists in place. (Don’t allow them to get pulled backward.) Hold your arms steady and keep your chest lifted as you kick your hips back and bend your knees to lower into a squat. Pause briefly and then drive through your heels to return to standing.
Tip: The band will want to retract and pull your arms forward; keep your shoulder blades locked and packed to prevent this action.
Exercise-Band Seated Twist and Pull-Apart
Sit on the floor with your knees bent, legs together. Hold an exercise band or loop with both hands about shoulder-width apart and extend your arms in front of you at shoulder height. Actively pull the band apart to create tension throughout. Keep your head and spine straight as you lift your feet off the floor and lean back slightly, pivoting on your glutes. Keep your legs lifted as you alternately twist your torso side to side, rotating from your waist as far as you can in each direction.
Exercise-Band Glute Kickback
Get on all fours with your hands underneath your shoulders and your knees underneath your hips. Anchor the ends of the bands underneath your hands and place one foot into the band loop, foot flexed. Brace your core and keep your hips steady as you extend your leg straight behind you to full extension. Pause briefly and then return to the start. Complete all reps on one side before switching.