6 Mini-Band Exercises to Build Total-Body Strength and Resilience
You don’t need fancy gym equipment to build total-body strength. In fact, you can target all your running muscles with one simple, portable tool: the mini resistance band.
This list of mini-band exercises shows you exactly how to incorporate this small yet mighty tool into your next strength routine or pre-run warm-up.
The Benefits of Mini-Band Exercises for Runners
In addition to being affordable, lightweight, and easy to pack, mini-bands can be very beneficial in terms of aiding runners in improving their strength, from head to toe. “Resistance bands provide a great stimulus with improving recruitment of stabiliser muscles that support larger muscle groups and movement at joints,” Yusuf Jeffers, USATF-certified running coach tells Runner’s World. For example in the standing single-leg tap out, he says, the muscles surrounding the hips, knees, and ankles joints on the stabilising leg have to work in overdrive so you maintain balance, while your other leg moves in different planes of motion.
The benefits of these stability challenges? It works those muscles you need strong for the single-leg sport of running, helping to injury-proof your body and make you efficient in your stride.
“Increased strength in stabilisers means the better transfer of power through the body and increased resilience in dealing with external forces, therefore helping to create a stronger, more efficient mover, and ultimately faster athlete,” Jeffers says.
How to use this list: Perform the exercises in the order listed below for 8 to 10 reps. If your goal is strength building, rest for 90 seconds between each exercise. To get the heart rate up a little more, don’t rest between exercises, but take 2 minutes rest between sets.
For this workout, you will need a mini-band, and an exercise mat is optional. Jeffers demonstrates each exercise in the video above so you can learn the proper form.
1. Standing Single-Leg Tap Out
Why it works: This exercise will help you build strong glute muscles while improving stability, one leg at a time.
How to do it: Start standing with hands on hips, knees slightly bent, feet shoulder-width apart and a mini-band placed around both ankles. Picture the left foot as the centre of a clock on the ground. Tap the left foot to 12 o’clock, then return to the centre. Tap the left foot to 9 o’clock, then return to the centre. Tap the left foot at 6 o’clock, then return to the centre. That’s one rep. Keep right foot planted, with the knee slightly bent the entire time. Repeat until you complete 8 to 10 reps. Then repeat on the right side, stepping to 12, 3, and 6 o’clock.
2. Quadruped Leg Extension
How to do it: Start on all fours, shoulders over wrists and knees under hips, with a mini-band placed around both feet, at the arches of the feet. Engage core and extend left leg straight back behind you, keeping your foot flexed and driving through the heel. Then bring it back into an all-fours position. Do 8 to 10 reps. Then repeat on the right side.
3. Single-Arm Plank Tap Out
Why it works: Planks are a great way to build total-body strength as they target almost every muscle. This particular variation will challenge you to maintain shoulder and core stability as your hand moves in different directions.
How to do it: Start in high plank position with shoulders over wrists, feet wider than shoulder-width apart and core engaged. The body should form a straight line from head to heels. As if left hand were the centre of a clock on the ground, tap the left hand to 12 o’clock then return to the centre. Tap left hand to 9 o’clock, then return to centre. Tap left hand to 6 o’clock, then return to centre. That’s one rep. Keep hips steady and feet wide the entire time. Repeat until you complete 8 to 10 reps. Then repeat on the right side.
4. Three-Position Pull-Apart
Why it works: This compound exercise requires you to engage your core, which will help you build strength. Plus, it targets the muscles in your arms and shoulders, helping to improve posture.
How to do it: Start kneeling with arms extended in front of the body, elbows bent at a 90-degree angle and held tight to sides, palms facing toward each other and the mini-band around both wrists. Engage the core and pull hands away from each other and to the sides, keeping elbows tight to torso. Slowly return to centre. Then, while keeping arms bent, raise arms to eye level so that triceps are parallel to the ground. Engage core and pull arms away from each other and out to the sides. Then slowly bring arms back to centre. Next, extend arms straight up so that biceps are near ears. Engage core and pull hands away from each ear. Then return arms to centre. Keep shoulders packed down. Return elbows to sides to start from the top. Those 3 positions make 1 rep. Repeat for 8 to 10 reps.
5. Sprinter Sit-Up
Why it works: Practising this sit-up variation will strengthen your abs and help you polish your running form, so you can run confident and strong.
How to do it: Lie face-up on the mat with legs straight out, mini-band placed around both feet, at the arches, and arms by sides. Engage core to sit up onto tailbone while driving right arm forward and left knee to chest. Return to floor. Then, engage core to sit up while driving left arm forward and right knee to chest. Return to floor. Continue alternating for 8 to 10 reps per side.
6. Mountain Climber
Why it works: Adding mini-bands to this exercise will not only test your stability but it will also help you build your core and hip flexor strength.
How to do it: Start in a high plank position with shoulders stacked directly over wrists, hands placed shoulder-width apart, and a mini-band placed around both feet, at the arches. Engage core so that body forms a straight line from shoulders to hips to heels. Engage glutes, quads, and thighs to keep legs straight. With a tight core, initiate the movement by driving left knee in toward chest, then quickly stepping it back to plank position. Immediately drive the right knee in toward chest, then quickly step it back into plank position. Continue alternating for 8 to 10 reps per side.