Originally developed to assist with physical therapy, mini resistance bands have stretched their way into our local gyms, and have become a popular choice for core and leg workouts.
The purpose of the miniband is to add resistance to your usual floor exercises and to aid with strength training, stability and endurance. Available in a variety of sizes and colours, they are also offered in a number of resistances: Light, Medium, Heavy, Extra Heavy.
The mini band has gained a lot of attention for being an alternative to weights training which, if carried out with poor form, can result in injury. With a simple band, you can transform your regular floor exercises into a harder workout. And what makes it our new favourite workout tool, is that you can take it anywhere.
Why work the core?
The core is often mistaken for being just your abdominal muscles when it actually encompasses your abs, back and pelvic muscles also. The core is just that, it is the centre of your body for all physical activity. A strong core is essential for any cyclist, to not only help with fitness, but also strength, and injury prevention.
Floor exercises are brilliant for building up your core strength, and many of these can be coupled with a mini-band to provide a slightly stronger burn and full body movements that gradually strengthen your muscles without having to use weights.
Mini Band Exercises
Here are a few floor exercises you can do with a mini band which focus on all body movements to help strengthen your core, shoulders and legs. You can do them anywhere, at home, at the gym, even on your lunch break at the office if your colleagues are understanding!
Always start with a mini band that has the lowest resistance, and build up gradually to higher resistances once you find it getting easier.
Squats are brilliant for training your glutes, hamstrings, quad, lower back and ab muscles. It's one of our favourites for working all your muscles and improving your balance and core strength.
Slip your legs through the mini band and plant it above the knees. By doing this, you're focusing your legs to withstand the resistance of the band, and not collapse inwards.
Continue the movement as you usually would:
- Feet shoulder width apart
- Kept your knees behind your toes
- Keep your chest up and back straight
You should immediately feel the additional work being done by your leg muscles. Once you're comfortable using your mini band for a reasonable amount of reps, and you no longer feel the resistance, move up to a higher resistance band.
Another brilliant mini band exercise for working the core is the press-up. With a mini-band, the press-up will work your arms, shoulders, abs, chest and core all at the same time.
Slip your arms through the mini band and plant it between your wrist and your elbow. The closer to your elbow, the easier the movement will be. Assume the press-up position as you usually would:
- Hands shoulder width apart and placed directly underneath your shoulders
- Body in a straight line from head to toe
- Keep tension in the mini band and perform a press-up, dropping your chest as close to the ground as possible
- Keep your back straight throughout the set
Another name for these is "Bicycles" because it requires rotational leg movements whilst doing stomach crunches. This movement is brilliant for your quads, core and hip muscles and because the exercise replicates pedalling motion, it's great for us cyclists!
Plant the band around the tops of your feet, and lie down flat on the floor. Keeping your back to the ground, raise your legs.
- Pull one knee towards you, whilst extending the other and keeping the mini band taught
- Keep alternating legs in a pedalling fashion
- Keep your black flat to the floor with your arms flat at your sides
To take this exercise to the next level of workout, you can bring in some upper body movement by rotating into the knee you're pulling to your chest with the opposite elbow. Engage your abs and repeat this alternating movement.
We'd advise you to train in front of a mirror, or with a buddy so you can keep an eye on your form to ensure you don't put undue strain on any part of your body.
The great thing about mini bands is that they allow you to keep it simple - which at the end of the day means you're much more likely to maintain a routine.
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