10 Mini-Band Exercises for a Full-Body Workout

January 2, 2020

Mini-bands are lightweight, easy to store, and compact—perfect for a workout on-the-go. Even though they are light, themselves, the resistance and results are anything but. You also are not limited to just one muscle group while performing mini-resistance band exercises. You can hit a full body workout on your time, with just a mini-resistance band at your mercy. You can adjust the level of resistance with the different colors of the bands.

If we haven‘t convinced you yet to invest in a pair of mini-resistance bands, these exercises might persuade you a bit. However, these exercises are, by far, not the only ones out there by any means. If you are loving what you‘re doing and how you‘re looking, you can always ask your Trainiac trainer to add a few more like these to the routine.

Do you want to build a habit of exercising and get in shape? Join Trainiac today with a 50% off risk-free month of online personal training. When you sign up, you'll work 1-on-1 with a world-class coach who builds you a fully-customized plan based on your goals, that you can on your own time, from anywhere. Get fit and feel amazing! LEARN MORE.

Especially if you‘re looking to spice up some bodyweight exercises with a little more difficulty, adding mini-resistance bands to your exercises in different ways can be the modification or variation that you‘ve been searching for. Ask your Trainiac trainer for more.

Let‘s get into the exercises:

Mini Band Upper Body Exercises

Band Pull Apart

The band pull apart is a great exercise to target upper back and shoulders. It can be modified slightly to target different upper body muscle groups. The key is to keep tension on the band and maintain core awareness to maximize the upper body impact for this move.

To perform the band pull apart:

  1. Stand with feet hip width and stack shoulders over hips.
  2. Place both hands inside of the band, palms facing in. Straighten arms and engage core.
  3. Press the backs of your hands in to the strap, draw your hands away from each other
  4. Hold for 5 seconds and release. Repeat 8 to 10 times.

Other options:

  • Perform same movement with palms up to engage the chest and biceps
  • Perform same movement with palms down to engage shoulders

Mini Band Lower Body Exercises

Single Leg Bridge Lifts

If you really want to target those glutes and make those hamstrings burn, you can also rely on bridges. Just like the real, physical sense of the word—they are dependable and strong. If you find that single leg bridge lifts are too difficult, you can first start off with double leg bridge lifts and work from there.

The key to single leg bridge lift is that you really need to be driving through the hips, making sure you get them high enough up. Ultimately, your body, from your toe to your head, should look like a straight line. The reason why they often refer to bridges as “glute” bridges is that they really make them burn, especially when you squeeze at the top.

Depending on how hard you want the exercise to be, you can place the band below (harder) or above (easier) your knees.

A good starting point is to do 3 sets of 10 reps, or 3x10.

To perform single leg bridge lifts:

  1. First set the mini-resistance band up as we mentioned before, based on your preferred level of difficulty.
  2. Lie on your back but then bend your knees so your feet are flat on the floor. They should be stationed about hip-width apart. Throughout the exercise, press the band out with your knees and make sure that they don‘t, at any point during the exercise, cave in. If you are doing the two-legged bridge, you can stop there.
  3. Once you have the band securely in place, lift one foot up off the ground and extend it. Your knees should be aligned with one another.
  4. When you‘re ready, drive your hips up through your heel(s) on the ground. Your knees should still be pressing outwards toward the band.
  5. Once you reach full extension at the top of the bridge, hold the movement for 1-2 seconds at the top. Your glutes should also be completely activated and squeezed.
  6. Lower your self back down toward the ground again to start another rep. If you want more of a challenge, shift your heel further away from your butt, activating your hamstring.

Banded Squats

If you‘re still hooked on bodyweight squats, you can add a simple resistance band to up your game. Not only does this simple change help activate your lower body in new ways, it also helps your form. It helps eliminate the temptation (and common mistake) of your knees caving in.

Doing banded squats also gets you to open your hips up more while in motion, which makes for a deeper squat without all that back-rounding. Banded squats are basically a total lower body workout, working on your quads, your hamstrings, your glutes, your outer thighs, and also engage your core.

A good starting point is to do 3 sets of 10 reps, or 3x10.

To perform banded squats:

  1. To begin the exercise, first start with the band around your knees. You can place the band above or below the knees, keeping your stance at shoulder-width apart.
  2. Your knees should slightly press against the band in an outward motion to keep you from sliding inwards.
  3. While keeping tension on the band, slowly sit down and back, keeping your back straight, your core engaged and your chest up and lifted—facing straightforward.
  4. At this point, carry the exercise on like a normal squat. The only difference will be the tension placed on the squat (that you should be taking on with your legs and not your arms) that the band provides.
  5. Once you reach the lowest point of your squat (try to get around 90 degrees with your knees or lower), hold for a 1-2 second count and then press back up through your heels, squeezing your glutes especially at the top.

Standing Kickbacks

Another great exercise that can really engage your lower back, your glutes, and your hamstrings is the standing kickback. Doing this pilates and resistance band exercise will really get the glutes burning.

While performing the standing kickbacks, hold the movement at the top—or peak—of the movement, and then lower it back down slowly. Especially when beginning and based on the strength of the resistance band, there might not be a huge range of motion. You don’t have to focus on that—instead, focus on squeezing the glute, especially at the outermost point of the exercise.

If you notice that you’re struggling with all the weight shifted to your lower back and find your body rocking, try doing the kickback with a lighter resistance band or doing it while on the ground, face down to begin.

A good starting point is to do 3 sets of 10 reps, or 3x10 each leg.

To perform standing kickbacks:

  1. To begin, first wrap the band around one ankle and around the mid-section of the other foot. If you need to start off with easier resistance, place them at a higher standpoint on your leg. This will make the resistance much lighter. Make sure you are standing and facing a wall or have a chair in front of you so you can maintain your balance.
  2. The leg not working should be kept on the ground and ever so slightly bent (never locked). Your other foot should be hovering above the ground and ready to be pushed or kicked behind you.
  3. While pushing, keep your hovered foot almost completely straight and keep that foot flexed. Drive your heel back, straight behind you. Once you get to the maximum distance of the push, squeeze your glute.
  4. While performing the exercise, make sure you’re not rocking forward to get the leg up higher than your normal range of motion. As we mentioned before, the distance isn’t nearly as important as the glute squeeze at the end.
  5. Keep your core engaged and tight throughout the entire exercise. You might have to lean forward slightly for balance, however, make sure that lean doesn’t turn into a rock.

Mini Band Core Exercises

Plank Kickbacks

If you seem to have already mastered or gotten bored with a normal plank, it’s time to kick it up into high gear with plank kickbacks. This exercise simply adds the resistance band to really target those glutes, as well as the core for main stabilization.

While performing this exercise, execute it like a normal plank—keeping your body as still as possible—so you can focus on the kickback part of the movement. Overall, this exercise will primarily be targeting the abs and then secondarily targeting the glutes and hamstrings.

Since it’s a very difficult core exercise mixed in with lower body, it is one of the harder band exercises. If you’re having trouble, ask your trainer to send a video of how to do it.

A good starting point is to do 3 sets of 10 reps, or 3x10 each leg.

To perform plank kickbacks:

  1. Begin the exercise by first laying down, face down and getting into plank position. Your elbows and your feet should be the only parts of your body touching the ground.
  2. Once you get that position, wrap your resistance band around your feet (like the standing kickback) or around your thigh above the knee, which is easier.
  3. Finally, get into that plank position. Once you’ve held that steady, you can kick your right leg upwards—driving your heel straight up in the air as high as possible.
  4. At the top of the kick, really engage your glutes and squeeze. Hold the squeeze for 1-2 seconds for maximum results.
  5. Once finished with the extension, bring the leg back down and continue with the same leg until you reach the desired number of repetitions.

Bicycle Ab Crunches

Another great exercise to help you use resistance bands to engage your core are bicycle abs crunches. If you’ve already done regular crunches, you can kick up the notch and really challenge yourself. As you’re bending and extending your legs with the resistance bands, your abs are really engaged.

Once you build up the strength to add the resistance band, you can complete this exercise almost as often as you’d like.

A good starting point is to do 3 sets of 20 reps, or 3x20.

To perform bicycle ab crunches:

  1. First start the exercise by lying on your back with your knees positioned over your hips. The band should be placed around the arches of each foot.
  2. Rest your hands behind your head—but make sure that you’re not pushing your head so your chin is not on your neck. Try to keep your chin pointed straight upwards, as if there was a string from the ceiling straight down to your chin.
  3. When you’re ready, keep your knees separated slightly. Extend out your left leg and twist, so that the knee of your right leg should be heading in the direction of your left elbow. Obviously, with the resistance band, it’s hardly likely that the knee and elbow will ever touch—that’s O.K.
  4. Bring the right leg back to extension and then alternate with the left leg and right elbow.

Banded Push Up

Unfortunately, personal trainers and exercisers alike normally tend to underestimate the full benefit of such a basic movement like the push up. However, since it often requires such a basic body movement, it will help the exerciser develop proper movement patterns for the scapula and shoulder joints.

It also reaps tons of benefits for muscle works, working on the chest area, and other upper body muscles. Once bodyweight is not enough, you can add resistance in the form of bands while still going through the push-up movement pattern.

Strength is found at the de-loading portion of the movement—where you’re at the bottom of the push up. When the resistance band is added, this will be the initial, “easiest” point of the exercise, until you have to push up from 0-100—targeting and working on your shoulder health and strength. However, at the top of the push up, you’re met with the most resistance.

A good starting point is to do 3 sets of 10 reps, or 3x10.

To perform banded push ups:

  1. First, begin by hooking your wrist through each end of the resistance band. The band should be around your forearms.
  2. Next, get into the push up/plank position with your hands flat on the floor. The wider your hands are placed, the harder the push up gets. However, the standard position is slightly wider than shoulder-width. Your body should form a straight line from your ankles to your head.
  3. Engage your core and then lower your body until your chest nearly touches the floor (there is a shorter distance to the ground when you have a wider stance with your hands.
  4. Once you’ve reached your bottommost position, pause there for 1-2 seconds and then drive back up to the original position.

Mini Band Stretches

Hamstring Stretch

Exercises aren’t the most important part of your workout routine. Stretching before and after your workout—whether it’s through dynamic or static stretches is also extremely important. The resistance band hamstring stretch is an essential stretch—especially if you’re planning to work your lower body out.

While performing the stretch, make sure you’re keeping tension on the band the whole time throughout the stretch. Do not use too much force and overstretch the muscle—this can do the opposite of the sole purpose of a stretch and get you injured. Our best advice would be to never stretch while you're cold. First, perform a light warm-up and then get into stretching.

To perform a mini band hamstring stretch:

  1. You will do this stretch lying down on your back. Begin the stretch by lying face up and wrap the band around one of your feet.
  2. Take the other end of the band with both hands and pulling your foot back up in the air. While pulling, keep your knee straight and make sure it doesn’t go out wide.
  3. Go as far as you can but always keep caution while performing this stretch. You don’t want to stretch too far.

Quad Stretch

Stretching is vital to the warm and cool down of any workout. Especially in major muscle groups like the quads, these muscles need the benefit of elongation, increased flexibility, improved circulation, and a reduction of stress. If you are planning on working out with tight quadriceps, you can risk running into knee or back pain later—or other injuries.

Doing the quad stretch with the resistance band not only helps increase your range of motion, it also will help get you the stretch that you wouldn’t be able to do on your own.

To perform a mini band quad stretch:

  1. To begin the quad stretch, have the resistance band ready and lay on your left side.
  2. To first start off, you’re going to be stretching your right leg. Wrap the resistance band around your right foot, with your right hand still holding the other end.
  3. Keep the left leg extended straight out on the ground (or mat) while the right leg is bent at the knee.
  4. When ready, take the band overhead and pull your right foot back towards your butt. Don’t overstretch or might lead to injury.
  5. Your hands should be held overhead while holding the band.
  6. When finished holding for desired time, switch sides and stretch other leg.

Shoulder and Back Stretch

Your shoulder joint contains a major muscle group in your body, as well. A lot of upper body exercises will utilize the shoulder joint, therefore it is important that you stretch out before and after your workouts.

The shoulder and back stretch with the resistance band will stretch out the rear deltoids, rhomboids, and Teres minor. These muscles are responsible for stabilizing the shoulder joint and warming them up properly will help you sustain from injury.

While you’re performing this stretch, it’s important to remember to keep a neutral spine and good posture.

To perform the shoulder and back stretch:

  1. To begin the stretch, first, take the band in both of your hands. Hold the band at about shoulder-width apart.
  2. When you’re ready, begin to pull the band apart, while retracting your shoulder blades.
  3. Keep the stretch for a few seconds at extension and then go back to the original position.

These stretches and exercises can help you get more out of your workout as well as help prevent you from getting an injury. If you’re looking for more exercises with resistance bands like these, talk to your Trainiac trainer today!

Do you want to build a habit of exercising and get in shape? Join Trainiac today with a 50% off risk-free month of online personal training. When you sign up, you'll work 1-on-1 with a world-class coach who builds you a fully-customized plan based on your goals, that you can on your own time, from anywhere. Get fit and feel amazing! LEARN MORE.