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Resistance bands — the gym that fits in a suitcase

Four moves to get maximum results from the minimal equipment

Ready to take your workout on the road? If you’re traveling and looking to sneak in a workout with minimal equipment, pack a resistance band into your suitcase! Or, keep one underneath your couch and pull it out next time you’re watching TV.

A resistance band is a great piece of equipment that’s easy to use, difficult to mess up, and very effective! Resistance bands come in a variety of resistance levels, so make sure to pick the one that feels like a challenge but also feels like you can maintain control of the tension on the band. We’re showing you a hard, medium, and light band here. You can test them out by simply wrapping them around your forearm and pulling them out to the side to see which is the easiest and hardest. Try out our top four moves to get in a full body workout.

Side Step

Stephanie Mansour demonstrates how to use a resistance band for a Side Step exercise.
Brian Ernst/Sun-Times

Wrap the band around your upper thighs. The band should be placed a couple of inches above your knee. Bend the knees into a squat position, and then step to the right with your right foot. Keep the band taught as you step to the right with your left foot. This is working the outer hip, thighs, and core! Repeat this 10 times to the right, then 10 times to the left.

Bicep Curl

Stephanie Mansour shows how you can use a resistance band to do a bicep curl from this starting position.
Brian Ernst/Sun-Times

Lower down onto your left knee, and step your right foot onto the ground. Step onto the band with your right foot, and then hold the band with your right hand. Keep your elbow hugging into your side as you curl the band up to reach your hand towards your shoulder. Then release it back down. This is working the upper arm and the bicep, as well as focusing on core stability! Repeat this 10 times, then switch sides.

Stephanie Mansour shows the finishing position of a resistance band bicep curl.
Brian Ernst/Sun-Times

Tricep Extension

Stephanie Mansour shows the starting position of a resistance band tricep extension.
Brian Ernst/Sun-Times

Hold the band with your left hand and press the hand and band against the right side of your chest. Hold the bottom of the band with your right hand. Keep the elbow hugging in towards your side, and press the band down towards your right side to work the back of the upper arm. Repeat this 10 times, then switch sides.

Stephanie Mansour shows the finishing position of a resistance band tricep extension.
Brian Ernst/Sun-Times

Banded Criss Cross

Lying on the ground, wrap the band around the top of your left foot and the bottom of your right foot. Have the legs up into a table top position, and then place the hands behind your head. Curl up with your head and neck, engage the abs, and then cross to the right knee while pressing the left leg out. Work the inner thighs and quads to keep the band taught. Then come through center and switch to the left side. Repeat this 10 times to each side.

Stephanie Mansour wants you to ‘“step up” your fitness regimen. Mansour coaches private clients in weight loss, provides fitness/health/lifestyles advice on national TV shows, and offers her free 21 Day Challenge online. Check out her fitness tips every Thursday in the Well section of the Chicago Sun-Times. And visit her website at stepitupwithsteph.com.