5 Body-Sculpting Resistance Band Exercises You Can Do Anywhere

I’m always looking to simplify my workouts. It can be hard enough to muster the motivation to get moving; I definitely don’t need any additional reasons (ok, excuses) to skip my sweat session and watch another episode of The Great British Bake Off. No bikes available at the spinning studio? Gym membership too expensive or too inconvenient? Streaming Pilates workout requires equipment I don’t have at home or would take over my entire living room. However, resistance band workouts can put all these barriers—and more—to rest, helping me to actually get moving.

I love resistance band workouts because they are extremely simple and portable. Not only can you drop a band or two in your suitcase to get in your workout while traveling, but you can also put one in your pocket during a walk or jog, and add some body-strengthening moves to your workout when you get to a park. If you live in a small space, or just don’t want to clutter your home with lots of bulky exercise equipment, bands are also a great at-home workout option. Plus, they are far more affordable than dumbbells and most other strength training options, costing about $10 pack of two, or $20-35 for a whole set of bands.

Resistance bands are also super versatile, and they offer unique strengthening benefits over traditional weights. Because the resistance increases the further you stretch the band, your muscles contend with a varied workload over the movement. This can help fortify your joints, ligaments, tendons, and muscles against injury because you train your body to stabilize and strengthen over the entire movement range. As someone with frequent joint pain, I also love that resistance bands can still provide a strengthening workout without further loading and compressing my joints.

It seems I can nearly wax poetic about all the benefits of resistance bands, but it is important to keep in mind that resistance band workouts are better for toning and sculpting rather than building muscle (weights are better for that). You also need to be sure to get quality bands and check them every couple weeks for cracks. Speaking from experience, you don't forget the feeling of band snapping on you. Lastly, there are different colors, which correlate to different levels of resistance, but it’s still not as clear how much you’re actually lifting with bands.

As you start working out with bands, increase the number of reps you can do on a given exercise until you can do 15-20 relatively comfortably. Then, it’s time to step up to the next level of resistance or double up your bands.

A single loop band is the star of the total-body workout below, but resistance bands can be used even as just supporting actors in lots of workouts. Try them in mobility drills when you are warming up for a workout, and for flexibility work and stretching during your post-sweat cool down. You can also use them in alternate sets during a weight lifting workout. For example, you can use five-pound ankle weight for a side-lying leg raise, then strap on the loop band for a second set. It’s fun to add variety, and switching things up keeps the body challenged.

Go through three rounds of the resistance band exercises below from the Tone It Up Girls for a workout that will tone every inch of your body.

Band Shuffle

Woman in workout clothes demonstrating the band shuffle
Tone It Up

Targets your glutes, outer thighs, hips, and core.

  • Loop the band just above your ankles.
  • Stand with a slight bend at the knees and your feet hip-width apart.
  • Take two giant steps to the left, then two to the right, reaching as far as you can to the side with each step while maintaining good form.

Complete 10 reps on each side (20 reps total).

Squat Leg Abduction

Woman in workout clothes demonstrating squat leg abductions
Tone It Up

Targets your glutes, hips, and thighs.

  • Begin by standing with your feet hip-width apart, with the band placed slightly above your ankles.
  • Lower down into a squat, making sure that your knees stay behind your toes.
  • As you straighten to stand back up, lift one leg to the side and then lower it back down.
  • Repeat the squat, then switch legs.

Complete 10 reps on each side (20 reps total).

Kickbacks

Woman in workout clothes demonstrating kickbacks
Tone It Up

Targets your glutes and hamstrings.

  • Begin standing with your feet hip-width apart, with a slight bend in your knees and your core engaged.
  • With control, kick your right leg behind you.
  • Lower the leg back to the starting position.

Complete 20 reps on each side.

For maximal butt-sculpting effectiveness, make sure to squeeze your glutes as you extend your leg behind you, and keep your core tight to prevent hyperextending your back.

Plank Toe Taps

Woman in workout clothes demonstrating plank toe taps
Tone It Up

Targets your hips, outer thighs, glutes, core, and shoulders.

  • Begin in a plank position with your wrists directly below your shoulders and your core engaged.
  • Extend one leg to the side, tap the floor with your toe, and return to the starting position.
  • Alternate sides with each rep.

Complete 10 reps on each side (20 reps total).

Leg Abduction + Crunch

Woman in workout clothes demonstrating leg abduction crunches
Tone It Up

Targets your outer thighs, hips, and abs.

  • Start on your back with your feet together and extended straight up into the air.
  • As you crunch up, spread your legs open to the sides, and reach up and forward between them.
  • Slowly lower your upper body back down and return your legs to the starting position.

Complete 20 reps.

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