by Christy Coughlin

Strength training is an important part of your fitness whether you are 25 or 65. As we age, we naturally lose muscle. Strength training can help you keep the muscle you have and even regain muscle you have lost.

While a fully stocked gym is ideal, there are always ways to strength train if you don’t have access to a gym. Loop bands, are stretchy bands, in various tensions, that allow you to work most body parts. They cost under $20 for a set, weigh less than a pound, come in a handy carrying pouch and can easily fit in your purse, glove compartment or backpack. Fit in a workout anywhere with loop bands.

Work with the appropriate tension for each exercise. The bands are color coded, to ensure you can work both larger and smaller muscles groups. It is important to maintain the tension, in the bands, as you work through each exercise, to get the most out of each repetition.

Try these 12 exercises to get started:

Recommendations for band tension and repetitions should be adjusted based on your personal strength. Work up to 2 then 3 sets of each exercise. Start with lighter tension to learn the exercise.

Lower Body

Side step squats/stand (works the muscles on the side of your buttock)

  • Place the x-heavy (usually black band) above your knees
  • Step out to the side so that you have tension in the band
  • Maintain an upright posture, and a tight core, step left, then right
  • Maintain tension in the band
  • Repeat for 20 steps

Kickbacks/stand (works the buttock, back of legs and hips)

  • Place a medium or heavy band just above your ankles
  • Keeping your left leg straight, kick it back behind you, maintaining balance on your right leg (hold onto the wall if balance is a challenge)
  • Repeat 12 for each leg

Single-Leg deadlift/stand (works back of legs)

  • Place a medium band under your right toes
  • Place your left foot about 8 inches behind, as a kickstand
  • Hold the band in both hands, maintain a slight bend in both knees
  • Bend over to 90 degrees, push through right heel as your pull up to stand
  • Repeat 10 on each leg

Leg Extensions/sit (works front of legs)

  • Start with knees bent, feet on the floor
  • Place a medium band at the ankles
  • Maintain an upright posture, with a tight core
  • Extend your right leg to straight, return to the starting position
  • Repeat on the other leg
  • Repeat for a total of 20 reps

Upper Body

External rotations/sit or stand (works upper arm and upper back)

  • Place your thumbs in the x-light band
  • Keeping your elbows glued to sides, thumbs up, rotate your arms out to the sides (maintain tension in the band at all times)
  • Keep core engaged and an upright posture
  • Repeat 12 reps (work up to 3 sets)

Arm-pulldown (works muscles of the shoulder, and back)

  • Place a medium or light band at your wrists, with your arms overhead
  • With tension maintained in the band, and shoulder blades together pull your arms down, and the band behind your head
  • Raise your arms back up to the start position

Repeat 10-12 times.

Tricep extension/sit or stand (works back of arms)

  • Hold one end of a lighter band, in left hand, across body
  • Hold the other end with right hand, arm bent next to body
  • Extend right hand back behind to straight arm, return to the starting position
  • Repeat 10-12 per arm

Bicep curl/sit or stand (works front of arms)

  • Hold one end of the loop with a straight left arm the other with bent right arm
  • Using the left hand as an anchor, curl the right arm up towards face
  • Release right arm back down, without losing tension in band
  • Repeat 10-12 per arm

Core

Marches/sit (works lower abdominals)

  • Place a medium band to heavy band above knees
  • Maintaining an upright posture, lower abdominals engaged, lift right knee straight up, return to the ground, lift left leg up
  • Continue marching for 20 reps

Bicycle (works the core muscles in the front of body)

  • Place a light or x-light band at your ankles
  • From a supine position, perform the bicycle crunch while maintaining tension in the band
  • Right elbow to left knee, left elbow to right knee
  • Repeat 10-20 reps

Bridge (works buttock, legs, core and hips)

  • Place a heavy or x-heavy band above your knees
  • Start with feet apart so that tension is in the band
  • Raise your hips up, push your knees out to the side, then back in, lower down
  • Make sure to maintain tension in the band throughout the exercise
  • Repeat 10-20 times

Ankles

  • Place a medium or heavy band around upper foot
  • With tension in the band, rotate your feet outwards, keep knee facing upwards
  • With the band still in place, cross right foot over left
  • Use your right ankle to pull the band to your left, repeat on the other side
  • Repeat 10-15 reps of the 3 exercises

While there are many brands of Loop Bands, these are widely available and high quality:

Recommended Loop Bands

https://www.walmart.com/ip/Fit-Simplify-Resistance-Loop-Exercise-Bands-Set-of-5-NEW-FREE-SHIPPING/174466245

by Christy Coughlin

photos from istock and Walmart.com

 

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