SELF – Men’s and Women Health & Fitness
If you don’t have much space for at-home workouts, mini-bands are going to be a key piece of fitness equipment. And there are tons of mini-band exercises you can do to make sure you hit every muscle in your body.
“Mini-bands are super convenient, you can take them anywhere, and they barely weigh anything,” ACE-certified personal trainer, Sivan Fagan, owner of Strong with Sivan in Baltimore, MD, tells SELF. “Plus, they’re low impact, so they’re great for someone coming back from injury.”
That doesn’t mean mini-band exercises are easy, though. Mini-bands, like other kinds of resistance bands, work your muscles differently than free weights do. They increase time under tension for your muscles—something important for building muscle—since they must stay engaged the entire time, says Fagan.
The more you stretch the band—say, when you’re at the top position of a single-arm row, where your elbow is just beyond your side—the harder the exercise will feel.
Yep, you can work your upper body with mini-bands, too. While many people think of mini-bands as a tool for warming up or activating their glutes, or getting in a good lower-body workout, mini-bands can also be used for upper-body moves, too.
You can get in a full-body workout with mini-bands by making sure you’re incorporating the main movement patterns, says Fagan. The full-body mini-band workout below does just that: It includes a squat pattern, a hip-hinge pattern, hip abduction (moving your legs away from your body), an upper-body push, and an upper-body pull. It also includes core work and some accessory movements, like shoulder external rotation, to work the smaller, stabilizing muscles that can help you lift weights safely.
This mini-band workout below will not only strengthen your entire body, but since it’s performed in a circuit fashion—no rest between moves—it’ll get your heart rate pumping, which provides cardiovascular benefits, too, says Fagan.
Here’s what you need to get started.
What you need: A couple pairs of mini-bands with varying resistances. You can use light mini-bands for moves that work smaller muscles (like the shoulder external rotation), and heavier mini-bands for moves that work larger muscles (like the glute bridge and squat). (Many mini-bands, like the set here, come with four or five bands of varying resistance.)
Complete each move for 45 seconds (for single-arm or single-leg moves, do 45 seconds per side), trying not to rest between moves. At the end of the circuit, rest for 1-2 minutes. Complete 2-3 rounds total.
Demoing the moves below are Hejira Nitoto (GIFs 1, 2, and 5), a mom of six and a certified personal trainer and fitness apparel line owner based in Los Angeles; Angie Coleman (GIFs 3, 6, 8, 9, and 10), a holistic wellness coach in Oakland, CA helping people find balance and a personal connection to movement; Crystal Williams (GIF 4), a group fitness instructor and trainer who teaches at residential and commercial gyms across New York City; and Salma Nakhlawi (GIF 7), the founder of StrongHer Girls.