We all know strength training is essential to your overall health and is important for creating a strong, toned physique — but it's not always easy to stick with a routine during summer travels. You're certainly not tossing dumbbells into your duffel, and who wants to be stuck in a dreary, dungeon-like hotel gym when it’s so beautiful outside? That’s why we love the resistance band; it provides you with a gym-quality strength-training routine whether you’re in a hotel room, guest bedroom, park, beach, boat, airport, pool, car park, subway station...you get the idea.
The beauty of this training tool is its versatility. And, the price doesn’t hurt; the bands are usually around $10 and can be found at most sporting-good stores. They allow you to move freely, working through a full range of motion in almost every direction. I just returned from a cross-country trip and used my resistance band for a quickie workout in the morning before I went exploring. (Here’s the proof.) Fitness expert Kristin McGee even designed a routine that her Games of Thrones client could do while filming overseas. “The bands are great because you can vary the tension and do all sorts of exercises and stretches with just that one tool,” McGee says.
Here’s what you need to know:
1. The packable, portable training tool goes by different names (resistance band, therapy band, theraband, resistance tubing) and each style is a bit different. Some are flat, some have handles — but all get the job done.
2. The bands are color-coded and the different hues signal varying levels of resistance. Typically the lighter colors (yellow) provide the least amount of tension, while blacks, blues, and purples offer heavier resistance. Of course, each brand is different.
3. You can customize band exercises using your hand grip and body positioning to adjust the difficulty. For example, if you’re standing on the band and performing a bicep curl, the closer you grab to the center ("choking up" on the band), the more resistance there is, which makes the move more difficult. To make it easier, move your hands closer to the end.
4. When using the resistance band for the first time, carefully position and remove it as needed for each exercise; rubber snaps, and you don’t want to be on the receiving end of that.
Click to the next page to learn three essential resistance band exercises for when you’re on the go.
Seated Row: Sit tall on the floor with your legs extended. Place the center of the band behind the soles of your feet and grab an end of the band in each hand. Start with your arms extended and palms facing each other. Now, bend at your elbows and pull the band towards your torso. Slowly return to the starting position. Do 2 sets of 10-12 reps.
Tricep Extension: Stand tall and place one end of the band under your right foot and hold the other end in your right hand. Bend your right elbow so that it’s pointing towards the ceiling and your right hand (and band) is behind you. Slowly straighten your right arm, bringing your hand towards the ceiling. Then, slowly lower it back to starting position. Do 10-12 reps, then switch sides. (You can also do this exercise seated.)
Want more moves? Find McGee’s total-body theraband toning workout below.