There’s plenty to be said for fancy gym equipment, but one of the best tools you can keep in your workout arsenal is basically a giant rubber band. Resistance bands are so clutch because they can help you take bodyweight exercises to the next level—and with just a few bands (from the easily stretchable to the super tight), the exercise variations are endless.
That’s one of the reasons personal trainer and C9 Champion for Target ambassador Massy Arias swears by them. “Resistance training can be very effective and relatively simple to follow—not to mention mobile,” she says. “Bands are so easy to keep at home or pack for a quick workout anywhere.”
Arias particularly likes utilizing resistance bands to build strength in her core, an area she's been focused on since she gave birth to her first child back in March. Moves like these resistance band exercises, she says, can help you do the same. “Anything you can do to prepare your body for that experience is key,” she explains. “Maintaining a level of fitness before and during [pregnancy] is important so your body can support the changes, like a belly. After the birth, listen to your body and do what’s best for you.”
Here, Arias pulls together 9 resistance band exercises that target the muscles of your core. “All of these moves really challenge your obliques and the entire abdominal wall,” she explains. And while the midsection is the focus, you'll challenge your upper and lower body as well, making these moves the perfect addition to your strength routine.
How to use this list: Choose a resistance band that feels challenging but allows you to maintain good form throughout the workout (you can always switch it out for more or less resistance).
For beginners (or if you’ve given birth within the past two months), choose 5 exercises below and perform 2 rounds of 5 to 8 reps. For intermediate or advanced exercisers, choose 7 exercises below and perform 3 rounds of 8 to 10 reps. Or scroll to the bottom of the page for the workout Arias put together for you.
1. Standing Knee Tuck
Stand with feet slightly wider than hip-width apart with resistance band around the middle of feet. Lift left knee toward chest and crunch right elbow toward left knee. Try to touch knee to elbow without rounding shoulders. Return to starting position and repeat on the other side. Continue alternating.
2. Hollow Body Roll
Lie faceup, arms extended straight overhead with resistance band looped around wrists. Hover shoulders and legs off floor for a hollow hold, then use your core to roll your body to the right, keeping arms extended, biceps next to ears. When you reach starting position, roll back to left for 1 rep.
3. Bicycle Crunch
Start in a seated position with resistance band looped around feet, knees bent, heels resting on floor. Lean back to about 45 degrees until core engages and lightly touch fingertips to back of ears. Use your core to rotate at the waist, bringing right elbow to left knee as right leg straightens. Then twist to bring the left elbow to the right knee as the left leg straightens for 1 rep. Continue to alternate.
4. Side Plank
Start in a high plank position with resistance band looped around ankles. Shift weight to the right hand, stacking feet, and placing left hand on hip. Lift the left foot off the right foot until feet are hip-width apart and hold for 30 seconds or as long as possible. Return to starting position and repeat on other side.
5. Single-Leg T Row
Stand with feet hip-width apart and loop the resistance band around right foot while holding the other end in left hand. Shift weight into right leg then hinge at the hips and lean forward, extending left leg behind you. When chest is parallel to the floor, pull the resistance band toward chest by sending left elbow straight back and keeping it close to your side. Extend arm, then return to starting position. Complete reps, then repeat on other side.
6. Spiderman Push-Up
Start in a high plank position with the resistance band around feet, wrists directly under shoulders, and core engaged. Lower chest for a push-up as you draw right knee to touch right elbow. Push back up to starting position, then repeat on other side for 1 rep.
7. T-Shoulder Raise
Stand with feet hip-width apart, holding resistance band in hands in front of thighs. Lift arms to shoulder height then extend arms straight out to sides to form a "T." Keep chest lifted and don't arch your back. Return to starting position then repeat.
8. T-Rotation Lunge
Start standing with arms extended straight in front of you, and hold the resistance band shoulder-width apart. Step right foot back into a lunge, lowering until thigh is parallel to floor. Use core to rotate torso to the right, pulling the resistance band as wide as possible. Drive through right heel to return to starting position. Complete reps, then repeat on the other side.
9. Unilateral Squat
Stand with feet slightly wider than hip-width apart, toes pointing forward, and loop resistance band under the ball of left foot and around left wrist. Extend arms straight in front of you, and send hips back to lower into a squat, keeping chest lifted. Return to starting position. Complete reps, then repeat on the other side.