The Mini Band is a piece of exercise equipment that EVERYONE should own. Mini Bands cost under $3 and can be stuffed in a drawer or thrown under the bed when not in use.
They are cheap, take up little space and can easily be taken with you in a suitcase or purse when you travel. Plus, with just one Mini Band you can get in a great full-body workout. While they are often just used for glute activation exercises, they can also be used to work your upper body.
Below are 5 Mini Band Moves for a Full-Body Workout you can do anywhere.
5 Mini Band Moves
Below are 5 Mini Band Exercises that work your back, chest, shoulders, arms, core and legs – aka your entire body!
1. Half-Kneeling Single-Arm Row – It is always easiest to get in a great back workout at home or when you travel if you have equipment to add resistance. With a Mini Band you can work your back from numerous different angles to improve your posture, strengthen your back and even help you do more pull ups.
One great Mini Band Back Exercise is the Half-Kneeling Single-Arm Row, which will strengthen your back and help improve your posture.
To do the Half-Kneeling Single-Arm Row, set up in a half-kneeling position on the ground with one end of the mini band around your front foot and the other side in the opposite hand from the leg that is forward. Your arm should be extended down toward the ground holding the mini band.
Lean forward over your front leg with your back flat and in a nice straight line from your head to your tailbone.
Then row the mini band up to your side, pulling with your back and driving your elbow back and up as you row. Keep your core tight as you row and do not rotate with the band or shrug your shoulders.
Make sure to drive your elbow down and back as you row so that you don’t feel the move in your upper traps and neck, but instead feel the row in between your shoulder blades and down the side of your back.
Slowly extend your arm back out after rowing the band up to your side.
Keep your back flat and abs engaged the entire time. Complete all reps on one side before switching sides.
Also make sure you really concentrate on feeling this move in your back. You do not want to shrug your shoulders and feel it in your upper traps.
To make the move harder, use a heavier resistance or slow down the tempo of the move. You can even hold for a few counts at the top of the move to make it more challenging.
Do not rush the move or let the band pull you back down.
2. Lateral Push Up Walk – Often when we workout at home or travel, we don’t have a ton of time to spend working out. That is why we want to include only compound movements in our workouts that work numerous muscle groups at once.
The Lateral Push Up Walk works your chest, shoulders, triceps and your entire core (including your abs, glutes and quads).
To do the Lateral Push Up Walks, place the band around both arms. The closer to your elbows the band is, the easier the move will be. The closer to your wrists the band is, the harder the move will be.
Advanced exercisers will do this from the ground. To do the advanced variation, set up in a high plank position from your hands and toes with your hands about shoulder-width apart and right under your shoulders. You want your body in a nice straight line from your head to your heels.
Keeping tension on the band, perform a push up, dropping your chest as close to the ground as possible. Push back up to the top and then step your hands and feet to the left so that you are again in a high plank position with your hands about shoulder-width apart.
Perform another push up then step again to the side. Keep your body in a nice straight line the entire time you complete the push ups and “walk” laterally.
Depending on how much space you have, you can either walk laterally for 5 to 10 steps before coming back or you can step to one side and do a push up and then step back to the starting position and perform another.
Make sure to maintain good push up form and keep your core engaged. Do not let your hips drop or your butt go up in the air. You want to make sure you don’t feel this move in your low back.
If your push up form breaks down or you can’t do push ups from your toes, try push ups from your knees. You can then “walk” laterally on your knees or lift up onto your toes to perform the walk.
Beginners may also want to place their hands up on an incline or remove the push up and just perform a lateral walk. They may even want to do the movement without a band. The most important thing is to do the move correctly and feel the correct muscles working.
3. Hip Thrusters – Especially if you sit all day at a desk, you need to do hip extension exercises that open up your hips and get your glutes firing. The Mini Band Hip Thrusters are a great glute bridge variation to really get your glutes working.
To do the Thruster, place the mini band around your hips and lie on your back on the ground. Place your feet flat on the ground and reach your arms down by your sides to press the mini band down into the ground. The closer your heels are to your glutes, the more the move will isolate your butt. The farther from your glutes your heels are, the more your hamstrings will be involved. Make sure that no matter how close or far your heels are from your butt, your heels stay down as you bridge up.
Then pressing the band down into the ground, bridge your hips up toward the ceiling, driving through your heels and upper back.
Bridge your hips up as high as you can, pressing against the band; however, do not hyperextend your low back just to bridge up higher. Hold for a second and then lower back down.
Slow down the tempo of the move to make it harder or use a heavier resistance. You can also make the Thruster more challenging by doing a single leg variation.
Also, make sure to keep the mini band against the ground as you bridge up. If you can’t get your hips as high using the band as you can with a basic glute bridge, regress the movement. Try a single leg bridge first without the band before adding the band in.
4. Lateral Crawls – If you want a stronger core, don’t waste time on basic crunches. Lateral Crawls, on the other hand, are a great way to work your entire core while also getting your blood pumping.
To do Lateral Crawls, place the mini band around your arms. The higher up your arms the mini band is, the easier the move will be.
Set up on your hands and knees with your hands under your shoulders and your knees under your hips. You want your legs to start together. Beginners will want to keep their knees on the ground for the crawls while more advanced exercisers will want to flex their feet and lift up onto their hands and toes.
Keeping your knees close to the ground, move to the right by stepping your right leg out to the side and your left hand in toward your right hand. Your hands will now be together while your feet will be about hip-width apart.
Then step your right hand out and your left leg in toward your right so your hands are again about shoulder-width apart and your feet are together.
Once you’ve crawled as far to the right as you want, step out with the left leg and bring the right hand in to the left. Then step out with left hand and step the right foot in toward the left.
Make sure that as you step laterally with your hands and feet, you keep your knees under your hips and your hands under your shoulders. Do not let your legs straighten into a plank. That will not work your quads as much.
You also want your knees to stay about an inch off the ground as you crawl to force the quads to work.
Go slowly to start and then speed up the movement as you become comfortable. You can also place the mini band around your knees to challenge your glutes a bit more. Just make sure that if you put the band around your knees, you do not let your knees cave in as you crawl even as you bring your legs together.
5. Bicycles – If you are going to do crunches, make sure they involve more than just your abs. Bicycles with a mini band work not only your abs, but also your hips and quads. Plus they are a rotational move to also work your obliques.
Beginner may want to start with just a lower body Bicycle.
To do the lower body movement, place the band around your feet and lie on your back with your legs out straight in front of you.
Keeping your low back pressed against the ground, raise your legs up off the ground. The closer to the ground you keep your legs as you extend them out, the harder the move will be.
If you feel the move in your low back, that means your abs aren’t strong enough to have your legs that low and you should have them up higher off the ground. You can also place your hands behind your low back/butt to help prevent your low back from engaging.
Then, keeping one leg extended, pull one knee in toward your chest. Make sure your low back stays firmly pressed against the ground.
Pull the knee in as far as you can and then extend the leg back out and pull the other knee in. Keep alternating knee tucks and feel your abs and quads work. You may also really want to focus on squeezing the glute of the extended leg to help protect your low back.
To advance this movement, add in the upper body twist when you tuck the knee in.
To do the full mini band Bicycle, place your hands behind your head. As you pull one knee in, rotate your chest toward that knee as if trying to bring the opposite elbow to your knee. As you rotate, drop the elbow on the side you are rotating toward to the ground and really try to get your shoulder blades up off the ground.
Then extend the leg and pull in the other knee. Rotate your upper body toward that other knee. Keep alternating knees, rotating toward the knee each time. Really lift your shoulder blades up off the ground as you rotate. Don’t just flap your arms in to get your elbow to your knee.
Make sure to keep your abs engaged the entire time. If you feel this in your low back, regress the movement and only do the leg portion or keep your legs up higher off the ground.
Using just these 5 Mini Band Moves, you can get in a great quick full-body workout. Try doing 5 rounds of a circuit with all five moves. Do 10-15 reps of each move. Or even set a timer for 15 minutes and see how many rounds of all five moves you can do in that time.