Full Body Resistance Band Workout

Resistance bands are the home exercise equipment I’d recommend you buy first.  They are inexpensive, they take almost no storage space, they travel well and they are incredibly versatile.  The sets that come with handles and door anchors are really nice, and if you have any sort of hand or wrist pain I’d recommend them.  That said, if money or, as at our house, space is a major concern the simple thera-band type bands work just fine and in some instances I like them better (because they don’t slide off your feet and don’t hurt as much if they snap back).

1. Double or Single leg Squat
Wrap the band around one leg, and cross it into x, and hold firmly.  WIth both feet on the ground, sit back as if you were going to sit in a chair, and come back standing.  Progress by first lifting the heel of your free leg and then the entire foot off the ground.

Me: Squats are awesome!  Dog: If you wanted exercise, why aren't we running in the woods?

Me: Squats are awesome!
Dog: If you wanted exercise, why aren’t we running in the woods?

2. Calf raises
Stand on the band, making sure it is firmly underneath the balls of your feet. Shoulders should be firmly on your back and core engaged.  Rise up to your toes and SLOWLY come back down.

3. Bicep Curls.  
Standing on the bands, hold an end in each hand.  With your upper arms fixed and your elbows as the hinge, raise your hands up towards your shoulders, and then slowly extend them all the way down. You can have the bands under one foot or both, and crossed or uncrossed, depending on how much resistance you want.

4. Lunge to Curl
Stand with bands firmly under one foot.  Step the other foot back into a lunge while simultaneously curling your hands up to your shoulders.  With a slow, controlled movement return to standing. For increased intensity you can cross the resistance bands.

5. Tricep Lunge
Starting in the same position as above, step back into a slight lunge.  Bend your elbows to a 90 degree angle so your the bands are lightly weighted.  Extend your hands back so your body makes a straight line from your rear foot straight through your head.  You should feel this is primarily in your triceps and between your shoulders.

6. Kneeling Hip Extension
Wrap the band firmly around one foot (for tubular bands I’d recommend crossing or looping) and kneel in table top.  Engage your cure and extend the weighted foot straight back and up, returning slowly to tabletop.

My elbows are hyperextended here - don't do this!  They should have a slight bend.

My elbows are hyperextended here – don’t do this! They should have a slight bend.


7. Shoulder Press
Kneel on the floor with the band wrapped under your upper legs, just below your knees.  Bring your arms out to a right angle.  This alone can be fairly intense and a good stopping point.  If it feels safe in your shoulders, raise your arms above your body.  I like to do this with the bands behind my shoulders, but if you have less open shoulders and tight chest muscles it will probably feel better with the bands in front.  I wouldn’t recommend doing this if you have any history of rotator cuff problems.

8. Seated Fly
Sit on the ground with the band wrapped behind both feet.  Knees can be bent (more comfortable for most) or straight.  Extend your arms out and back, keeping your back straight and your core engaged.  The progression would be to pick your feet off the ground and do this in a v-sit.  Return slowly to your starting position.

9. Seated Row
In the same starting position as the above exercise, bend your elbows and bring your hands even with your torso in a rowing motion.  Progress the exercise by raising your feet off the ground into a v-sit.  Return slowly to your starting position.

There are SO many ways to use these bands and this is just a very small selection, but I hope it gets you started.  As always, don’t do anything that doesn’t feel right for your body or that is contraindicated for you, and feel free to contact me with any questions.

Were you wondering why I didn't have a puppy in my face?  Taking photos = new bone.  I'm learning.

Were you wondering why I didn’t have a puppy in my face? Taking photos = new bone. I’m learning.

Jenn is a personal trainer at Manchester Athletic Club and is currently accepting new clients.  She can be reached at jbrooks@manchesterathleticclub.com.

Spring Training: Strengthen Your Core

Some common factors in overuse injuries are lack of core stability, insufficient flexibility, and weak stabilization muscles leading to poor movement mechanics.  I’ve put together a workout that can help you address one of the most important factors in proper movement — core strength. If your core is weak, the rest of your muscles cannot function with maximum strength or efficiency because force can’t be transferred properly.

1. Reverse Crunch with Yoga Block
Start on your back, knees bent, with a yoga block or similarly sized object held between your legs just above the knee, shoulders firmly into the ground.  Brace your core muscles, and using the strength of your core (not momentum) contract your knees in towards your chest, bring them back down. Repeat x25.

2. Plank (1 leg raised optional)
Keeping your shoulders firmly on your back and hips level, find your plank.  Drawing in the muscles around your abdomen to hold your hips level, lift one leg slightly off the ground. Hold for 30 seconds, repeat on the other side.

3. Pendulum
Laying on your back, knees bent at a 90 degree angle and feet raised, holding a yoga block in that same position as the reverse crunch.  Brace your core, and slowly and with control drop your knees to one side, then the other, pulling up with your oblique muscles. It is important that you not feel any strain in your back when doing this.

4. 1 Leg Bridge
Lay on your back, shoulders firmly into the ground, knees bent and feet on the floor.  Lift up into a bridge, engaging your glutes, hamstring, and abdominals.  Bring one leg up, pulling your thigh towards your chest and holding a tennis ball in place. Keeping that leg in place, bring your hips down to the ground and immediately raise back up.  Repeat x25 on each side.

5. Charlie’s Angels
From a kneeling position, engage all core muscles, drawing in and bracing firmly.  Keeping the muscles strongly engage, slowly twist from side to side. Repeat x25.

6. Side Double Leg Lift
Lay on your side, and engage all core muscles.  Contract your obliques and lift both legs slightly up, keeping your body perpendicular to the floor.  Repeat x25 on each side.
leg lift

7. Dead Bug
Lay on your back, arms and legs extended.  Engaging all core muscles so that your spine is fully supported, bring your arms and legs up to vertical  Drop back down and repeat x25.  Do not do this exercise if you feel any strain in your back.

8. Seated Figure 8
From a seated position, hold a medicine ball fully extended out from you (a weight will also work.  Your daughter’s rainbow tie dye soccer ball can be called up in a photo prop pinch).  Bracing your torso with your core muscles so that the only thing moving is your arms, trace a figure eight with the ball.

9. Overhead Squat
Raising your arms overhead, drop down into a squat.  Making sure that your glutes and hamstrings are doing the bulk of the work, drive through your heels and return to standing.  For extra oomph, add a resistance band around your arms.


Ryu singlet and Celtic shorts from http://www.inknburn.com .

And there you have it!  As always, do not do any exercises that you feel are not right for your body.

Jenn is a personal trainer at Manchester Athletic Club and is currently accepting new clients.  She can be reached at jbrooks@manchesterathleticclub.com.

Are you bendy? 10 minutes of Injury Prevention.

Silly question.  We are runners.  We are never bendy.  We are the ones in the back in yoga, dreading the words “forward fold.”  It’s comical to think we could touch our toes, and our hamstring stretch looks kind of like “sitting down” for the more flexible people of the world.

We devote hours a week to activities that tighten muscles.  We are unlikely to be truly flexible, ever, no matter what we do.  Which is all the more reason to stretch.  When your hips hurt, or your knees hurt, or your back hurts, nine times out of ten what is really going on is tight hamstrings or a tight IT band.  We know this.  Why don’t we do something about it BEFORE it’s a problem!?

With the mountain lottery open and months of very hard training ahead before we get to the sheer rainbow glittery joy of running up the auto road (hah!), I’m going to challenge you –and myself– to make these 5 things a part of your training routine.  Every day.

1. Make friends with your foam roller.  If you don’t have one, get one.  They are easy to find and they work miracles.  Roll out your IT bands every single day.  Don’t wait until they’ve gotten so tight that just putting weight on the roller makes you start to cry a little. (Not that I have ever struggled not to cry while rolling out my IT bands. Nope. Not me.)022814g

2. Hamstring stretch.  Really stretch your hamstrings.  Not the back of your hyperextended knee.  Your hammies!  Since we’ve established our hamstrings really don’t move, stand up with one foot on a chair/bench/whatever.  Lean over and grab your hamstring. Start to straighten.  Feel that stretch in the middle of your hamstring?  Yep, that’s what you want. (and don’t lock your back leg like I appear to be doing in this pic.  The photobombing puppy tried to cover it up– such a good dog).


3. While we’re busy bashing up our ankles on frozen over postholes from two months ago, lets give all those little supportive muscles some TLC.  Sit on the couch, and the draw the alphabet with each foot.  This will do wonders for your ankles and your shins.

4. Your gluteus maximus gets all the glory, your gluteus minimus causes all the problems.  Stretch that sucker out.  Lay on your back, foot up flexed and knee at a right ankle, other leg crossed *below* (not on!!!) your knee, and bring it up towards your face.  It feels great  in an awful sort of way.


5. While you’re on the ground, give your hips some love.  Lay on your back, grab one foot at a time, and bring it up at a right angle towards the floor. (half happy baby for you yoga peeps). It will work wonders on your hips and hamstrings, and your spouse and children will greatly enjoy mocking you, because you will look ridiculous. It’s a win for everyone!


And there you go…less than 10 minutes a day and you’ll prevent all kinds of injuries.