I’m pretty diligent about working on my core. Over the years on the mat, I’ve learned a few things about what it takes to really get your abs burning and feeling like you’re strengthening them to Hulk-like levels. Despite doing everything from bicycles to planks to classic crunches—and everything in between—I’ve never really incorporated anything besides weights into my workouts.
Then I was streaming a 5-minute ab workout that called for another tool: the resistance band. Using a resistance band was like cranking up the muscle-quaking powers of a simple core workout and upgrading it to something that somehow made the burning even more intense. Phew!
Trainers are savvy to the core-busting tool, noting that it works your muscles in a slightly different way. “Not only does a resistance band add a different stimulus to the muscle—which helps to engage more muscles and work you harder—but it also provides an extra challenge and an element of fun to your workout,” says Oliver Lee, a Peloton tread instructor. “It means you could be a lot more motivated to work your core by incorporating new and interesting exercises.”
Celebrity trainer and founder of LA’s THE WALL Fitness Jason Wimberly is also a fan of the workout tool. “Resistance bands are everywhere these days, and for good reason,” he tells me. “Elastic bands provide what’s known as cumulative resistance, which means that unlike a free weight—which depends on gravity to add force to the muscle—a resistance band can add resistance not only in multiple planes of movement, but actually increases the force on the muscle as you move away from the body.”
One of his fave ways to work the core is by using a band, because “it allows the user to add resistance and make different exercises more challenging without a cumbersome free weight.” Without further adieu, keep scrolling for Wimberly’s go-to ab-quaking resistance band moves to try ASAP.
1. Standing three-point chop
For this one, wrap a band around your wrists. “Start with your feet in a wide stance with bent knees, and reach your arms to 90 degrees,” says Wimberly. “Chop your arms to the right as you lift your right knee, then do the same action at a diagonal, and finally towards the floor.” And repeat.
2. High plank crawl out and oblique crunch
This plank variation involves having a resistance band around your wrists and your feet. “At the top of your high plank, add a mini band around your wrists and feet, step each arm forward and backward right and left, and then bring your right knee to your elbow and then left, and repeat,” says Wimberly.
3. Banded lay out
Wrap a band around your ankles and wrists for this one as well, and start in a V-sit position. “Lay out to a hollow body while keeping tension on both bands,” says Wimberly. “Keep your legs and shoulders off the floor, then return to starting position while reaching the arms over bent knees in your V-sit.”
4. Standing oblique crunch
Keep your band around your wrists for this. “Stand in a turned out plié position reaching your arms overhead,” says Wimberly. “Sit deep into your plié, and bend your body to the right four times, then to the left four times. Do a four-count break, then repeat.” Your core is now burning, I’m sure.
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