If you're looking for a simple way to work out all the major muscle groups in your body without using weights or static gym equipment, then our mini band exercise programme is the perfect solution. The only equipment you'll need is a set of mini resistance loop bands, and in some cases a secure point to anchor your band. The advantage of these resistance band workouts is that you can do them almost anywhere - the park, the garage, the garden, the living room - without needing access to a fully equipped gym.
Band pull aparts
Let's start with a simple exercise, which is great for toning your shoulders. Standing straight with your feet roughly shoulder width apart, wrap a mini band around your wrists. Holding your hands out in front of you, widen the gap between your hands as far as possible, pushing out against the resistance band. Your movements should be slow and controlled, both in and out.
Single leg glute bridge
The next exercise works the glutes and leg muscles, isolating one leg at a time. Position yourself on the floor with your back flat and knees bent. Your feet should be shoulder width apart. Put your mini band around one leg above the knee, and under the arch of your foot on the opposite side. Now stretch and lift that leg, using your opposite foot and hands to balance by pushing into the floor. Slowly lower your leg to the starting position and repeat.
Banded push up
This is a development of the classic push up which allows you to better target the rotator cuff muscles throughout the whole exercise. Loop a mini band around your wrists. You should be able to feel the tension in the band as you separate your hands to position yourself in the normal stance for a push up. As you complete the push up, the band restricts your form, preventing your arms from splaying out and ensuring you work the shoulders correctly.
Fire hydrant exercise
This exercise works the hip abductors, the muscles which rotate your leg at the hip and move it away from the body. Start on all fours, with your mini band around both legs at mid thigh level, towards the bottom of your quads. Now lift your right leg up and to the side, keeping your foot level so that your whole lower leg rises parallel to the ground. You should aim for at least a 30 degree angle, but as you train, you'll be able to increase this. Repeat, leading with the left leg.
Band shoulder press
For this exercise, start off in a standing position. Wap the mini band around your wrists and begin with your hands in front of you at chest height, elbows down and by your sides. First, widen your hands to shoulder width, adding tension on the band and then extend your arms up and over your head, until they are vertical. You should maintain the tension on the band throughout the movement, and keep the same distance between your hands as you bring them back down to your chest.
Begin by adopting a plank position, with your mini band wrapped around your legs above the knee, or around your calves. For increased resistance, you can do this exercise with a band in both positions. Bounce off your toes, and stretch your legs apart into a V shape with your feet more than shoulder width apart. Bounce again and bring your legs back together to land in your starting position.
Again, start in the plank position, this time with your mini band wrapped around your ankles. Keeping your right leg straight at the knee, extend it back and up as far as you comfortably can, stretching the band and keeping your left toes planted on the floor. Repeat the exercise with your left leg.
Resistance band bicep curls
This is a simple exercise which is perfect if you don't have access to a dumbbell. Grip one end of the mini band in your left hand, holding it low and central in front of your body while keeping your back straight. Loop the other end around your right hand and perform a standard bicep curl, working against the resistance of the band. Once you've completed a set, reverse the position to work the left arm.
Even simple exercises can be enhanced and given an added challenge by incorporating a resistance band, and this is a great example. With your mini band looped around your legs just above the knee, do a classic star jump. Using the band means you'll need to work extra hard to get your legs and feet extended. To start with you should aim for shoulder width or further apart. Try to make sure you don't bend your knees inwards - your feet should be landing facing forward, not pointed in.
Squat with leg lift
This is a two part exercise. Start with a band wrapped around your upper legs, above the knees. The first movement is to lower yourself into a squat position, creating tension against the band but not overstretching it. The second movement, as you raise yourself out of the squat is to extend your right leg out to the side, keeping it straight, as if you were about to take a big sidestep, and then returning to your starting position. Alternate between legs with each rep.
One arm row
Start with your feet planted one in front of the other, about one stride length apart, right foot in front. Loop your mini band under the middle of your leading foot, and then leaning forwards slightly and placing your left hand on your right knee for stability, grip the band in your right hand and stretch it upwards, keeping the band oriented vertically. Switch to the reverse position to complete the same exercise with your left arm.
This resistance band workout is great for muscle tone, but as you build speed it is also an effective cardio and balance workout. With your feet placed shoulder width apart, loop a mini band around your legs above knee height. Bounce off your feet and widen your legs into a V, as if you were doing a jumping jack, but as your feet land, drop into a squat. Bounce back out of the squat position, bringing your feet back to the center to complete one rep.
Loop your mini band around your left hand, and then cross your left arm over your chest so your hand is covering your right armpit. Take the other end of the band in your right hand and stretch it down until your right arm is fully extended. Throughout the movement, your right palm should be facing in, towards your body, rather than forward. Repeat the exercise with the positions reversed to work on your left triceps.
This exercise works the quads, but is also a good workout for core strength and balance. Start with your feet two or three inches apart, and with the mini band wrapped around them, over and under the arches. Now, raise your right leg until your thigh is parallel with the floor. Pause, and then smoothly bring it back to the starting position. Repeat the exercise with your left leg.
The final exercise in our program is the walking plank. Loop a mini band around your forearms, midway between your wrist and elbow. Start by getting into position as if you were preparing for a press up. As you widen your hands to shoulder width you'll feel the tension in the band. Now inch forwards on your hands and toes, alternating from left to right.
This program of resistance band exercises is perfect for anyone, from beginners all the way up to experienced trainers. Using different strengths of mini band, or increasing the number of sets and reps allows you to develop the program as your fitness levels and strength improve, so you're always challenging yourself.