Exercise Bands

How can you get in a fabulous strength-training workout while you're camping or traveling in an RV? With exercise bands! These small, flexible bands are easy to pack, fit into a small space, and offer a surprisingly great workout. Exercise bands (sometimes called resistance bands) increase your coordination, balance, and stability. They're cheap, great for all fitness levels, and they give you plenty of variety. In other words, they're the perfect traveling home gym.

Before You Start
Before you buy an exercise band, you should know that working out with one will feel different than lifting weights in a gym. Regular weights react to gravity, so the dumbbell feels heavier when you lift it up then when you lower it. Resistance bands keep a constant tension, forcing your muscles to work during both parts of the exercise.

You can do all the same moves with bands that you would do with machines at the gym, but you have to know where to position the band. Get creative! You can use your own body (feet, for instance) to hold the band, or attach it to a door frame or heavy piece of furniture.

Bands come in three weights: light, medium, and heavy. For the most part, heavy bands are best for exercises done with the lower body, while light or medium bands work well for upper body exercises. When you're getting started, be sure to do the exercises slowly, concentrating on your form. Remember that you get better results from doing the moves slowly and perfectly, even if it means not doing as many repetitions.

Begin with one set of 8 to 10 repetitions and move up to two sets, and then three. You can also increase the number of repetitions you do in each set. To make an exercise harder, shorten the band by either spreading your feet (if they're anchoring the band) or by grasping the band in a different place with your hands.

Basic Exercises
Biceps Curls - Put the band underneath your feet and stand up straight. Hold one handle in each hand and slowly curl your biceps, just as your would with a dumbbell. You can make the move easier by standing on the band with only one foot, or harder by spacing your feet farther apart.

Overhead press - Stand on the band with one foot and press your arms overhead.

Squats - Stand on the band with both feet (set hip-width apart) and hold the handles near your shoulders, elbows bent. Straighten your legs to perform the squat, taking care to keep your back flat.

Chest Press - Run the band around a pole or rail behind you (at chest height) and grip one handle in each hand. Step far enough away from the pole to create constant tension. Hold your bent elbows at each side with your forearms parallel to the floor, upper arms in line with your body. Press forward and then return to the start position.

Seated Row - Use the same band position you had for the chest press, but turn around so that you're facing the pole or rail. In a seated position with your feet comfortably propped against something solid, stretch your arms out in front of you and grasp the bands. Pull back until your elbows are in line with your body, forearms parallel to the floor.

Leg Kicks - Wrap the middle of the band around your left foot and take the handles in each hand. Move onto your hands and knees, knees bent, back flat. With your left foot flexed, slowly straighten your leg back and up behind you, squeezing the glutes. To make this harder, wrap the band around your hands.
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