Hello friends! I’m back to talk about some simple and effective exercises that you can do from the comfort of your home. A couple of weeks ago, I explored the many benefits of using resistance bands to transform your upper body home workouts. This week, you’ll need those resistance bands again because I’m talking about ways to upgrade your core workout routine by using resistance bands!
What are Resistance Bands?
In case you missed my previous post, resistance bands are also known as mini bands. They are small, portable, and cheap pieces of exercise equipment that you can get almost anywhere. In addition, you can often buy them in multi-packs with varying levels of tension, such as these. I also list many advantages of doing resistance band exercises within this post. So definitely check it out!
A Word of Caution: when doing resistance band exercises, proper form is still very important. Yes, elastic bands limit your range of motion; therefore, the risk of overextending the joints with bands is less compared to lifting weights. However, you do need to make sure your body is always in proper alignment while using bands. This will ensure two things: 1) that you’re getting the most out of the exercise, and 2) that you’ll avoid injury.
Common Questions Regarding Core Exercises
You can do core exercises as part of another workout, or as a stand-alone workout. It’s really up to you. I love to integrate core exercises within my HIIT workouts because: 1) it’s efficient, and 2) working several muscle groups at the same time means that I’ll get stronger and burn more calories!
While it may not be recommended to work certain muscle groups on consecutive days, you can do core exercises daily. If you do that, I recommend that you vary the exercises so that: 1) you don’t get bored, 2) your body doesn’t get used to the exercises, and 3) you continue to get stronger.
Building a stronger core involves many more muscles than your “six-pack”, or the rectus abdominis muscle group. Your core consists of many muscles within your midsection and pelvis. All of these muscles work together to stabilize you and help you do many movements. Without a strong core, you may have difficulty doing some normal activities such as carrying groceries (and/or children!), washing and folding laundry, and even recreational sports.
If you find that a particular exercise is difficult, it could indicate that you need to strengthen some core muscles–and that’s ok! We spend a lot of time doing activities (like working at a desk and/or driving a car) that don’t require us to have a strong core, so we have to be deliberate about developing that strength. Be patient, and be consistent with your core workout routine and the strength will come.
Here’s the short answer–yes, but you can’t rely on core exercises alone. You will develop muscles in your core by being consistent with a core workout routine. However, to lose belly fat, you need to be mindful about what you eat, and you need to incorporate some cardio into your workout regimen.
If you need guidance about how to start and keep a workout regimen, check out this post.
Now, onto the good stuff! Check out this video of some of my favorite exercises for a core workout routine.
Before you start this core workout routine, let’s break down each exercise including the major muscles worked, the benefits of each exercise, and how to do them safely.
The Exercise: Side Planks
Major Muscles Worked: The shoulders, hips, and the obliques.
Benefits: Improves balance, builds spine mobility, and helps to reduce the risk of back injury; less pressure on your lower back than traditional crunches and other abdominal exercises.
How to Do It: Place a resistance band above your knees. Lie on one side with your elbow planted on the ground and your hips and shoulders stacked. While keeping your elbow underneath your shoulder, lift your hips off the ground. Options for your feet: keep them stacked one on top of the other, top foot in front of the other, or plant the top foot on the ground. Another modification option would be to bend the knee of the bottom leg and lower it to the ground. You can hold the position, or pulse the hips. For your arms, raise the top arm to the sky or place the top hand on the ground.
Challenge: If your feet are stacked, raise the top leg and pulse.
Repeat on the other side to complete one set.
The Exercise: Flat Back with Half Circles
Major Muscles Worked: The entire abdominal wall: rectus abdominis, transversus abdominis, and the obliques.
Benefits: Builds core strength and flattens your belly, especially the lower abdominals.
How to Do It: Place the resistance band around your ankles and lie on your back. Extend both legs towards the sky and press your lower back into the ground. You can extend your arms long by your sides and press your hands into the floor or place your hands underneath your sitting bones for support. With pointed toes, lower legs toward the ground while making alternating half circles with your toes. Lower down for 2 counts and lift for 2 counts. While lowering the legs, be mindful to keep your lower back pressed into the ground. If you can’t keep your lower back on the ground, don’t lower the legs as far.
The Exercise: Russian Twists
Major Muscles Worked: The entire abdominal wall: rectus abdominis, transversus abdominis, and the obliques. Also, scapular muscles, hip flexors, erector spinae, and the latissimus dorsi are worked.
Benefits: Defines your waistline by building strong oblique muscles. Increases torso rotational mobility, and builds upper body strength.
How to Do It: (Beginner) Plant your feet on the floor and place a resistance band around your wrist. While maintaining a long spine, hinge your torso back until you feel your abdominals engage. Draw your belly in to support your lower back. As you press your palms away from each other (engaging back and shoulder muscles), rotate through the spine to tap one elbow to the floor, then repeat on the other side to complete one rep.
Intermediate-Advanced: Raise your feet off the floor so that your legs are in a tabletop position. Connect your thighs together to engage the inner thighs. Complete the move as stated above.
The Exercise: Roll-ups
Major Muscles Worked: Strengthens the rectus abdominis, transversus abdominis. Lengthens the hamstrings and the erector spinae.
Benefits: Builds strength in the core while lengthening and stretching the back of your legs and the muscles along the spine. Increases spinal mobility. By using the resistance band, you’ll engage shoulder and back muscles as well.
How to Do It: Place a resistance band around your wrists. Lie on your back with legs extended and arms overhead. Connect your thighs together to engage the inner thighs. Inhale as you lift your arms up and overhead as you slowly lift your torso off the floor. Use your core strength to articulate through the spine, one vertebra at a time. Take your time. As you do so, press your palms away from each other (engaging your back and shoulder muscles) and draw your belly to your spine. At the point when your torso is over your hips, exhale as you round through your spine and extend your fingers towards your toes.
To complete the exercise, you’ll reverse the movement. Inhale as you round through the spine, draw your belly in, and roll back towards the floor. Exhale as your torso comes to the floor vertebra by vertebra. Modification: slightly bend through the knees instead of keeping your legs straight.
So, are you convinced that these exercises can transform your core workout routine? I hope so! And in case you missed my big announcement…
WELLNESS WITH WENDY HIIT IS COMING SOON!
I’m super excited to announce that I’m rolling out a brand new On-Demand Wellness With Wendy HIIT Program in the very near future! Here’s what will be included: 3 HIIT classes uploaded per week (each class will be no longer than 30 minutes) plus occasional bonus workouts. I’ll provide plenty of modifications during each workout, making it appropriate for all fitness levels. If you’re looking for ways to integrate resistance band exercises into your fitness program, this is it!
Want to know more about the Wellness With Wendy HIIT Program? Sign-up to get updates and additional information as soon as we’ve ironed out the details.
I’m SO looking forward to you joining the Wellness with Wendy HIIT community, and I can’t wait to share the details with you. Until then, sign-up to get the updates and take care!
Mrs. Traylor is a Fitness Instructor, NASM Certified Personal Trainer & Nutrition Coach, AFPA Certified Prenatal and Postnatal Fitness Specialist, wife, and momma who provides actionable advice for positive lifestyle changes with fitness, nutrition, and wellness. Read about Wendy’s inspiring entrepreneurial journey, and subscribe to Wendy’s newsletter here!