When you can't get to the weight room during the season, use resistance-band exercises as a convenient way to maintain strength. Portable, inexpensive bands can be used outdoors or at home for a before-school workout, or a few times a week after practices and games. Resistance bands are sold at sports equipment stores and online, and they come in different sizes—generally, the thicker the band, the greater the resistance.
When you're pressed for time, try this 15- to 20-minute resistance band workout on non-consecutive days (for adequate recovery). It incorporates balance, upper-body pushing and pulling movements, lower-body power and core strengthening exercises, endurance (by supersetting exercises with brief rest periods), and flexibility (with cool-down, upper- and lower-body static stretches).
Bent Over Rows target the biceps and back muscles needed for pulling down opponents on the football field or wrestling mat, for example. Side Lunges and Twists are an excellent core-strengthening combination, useful when rapidly turning and twisting to catch a pass or chase an opponent. Squats and Chest Pressouts and Alternating Forward Lunges and Presses help you maintain the lower- and upper-body strength required for pushing away opponents in contact sports.
Resistance Band Workouts
- Perform all of the exercises while standing. Standing movements are weight-bearing, reversing fat-burning metabolism and enhancing bone density to minimize the chance of broken bones.
- Perform as many reps of combo exercises as you can in 60 seconds.
- Proceed to the next set of combo exercises without rest.
- Rest 30 seconds to hydrate, then repeat each circuit.
- 1 Resistance Band (tension: 80% RM)
Resistance Band Circuit No. 1
Perform the following combo exercises with the band under your feet. Hold the handles with an overhand grip either at waist or shoulder level, depending on the exercise.
Single Leg Squats/Upright Rows
- Begin with your left knee slightly bent and your right foot off the floor with your right knee bent.
- Hold handles shoulder-width at waist level.
- Squat with your left leg and simultaneously pull the handles up smoothly, in one second, to chest level.
- Pause one second, lower in two seconds and repeat.
- Do as many reps as you can in 60 seconds, then without resting do the same on the right side for 60 seconds.
Single Leg Squats/Overhead Presses
- Without resting, hold the handles at shoulder level.
- Bring your right foot off the floor.
- Squat with your left leg and simultaneously press the handles quickly overhead and hold one second, then lower to the starting position.
- Perform as many Squats/Overhead Presses as you can in 60 seconds, then do the same with Right-Leg Squats/Overhead Presses.
- Rest 30 seconds to hydrate and repeat Circuit 1 combo exercises before proceeding to Circuit 2.
Single-Leg Squats/Upright Rows and Overhead Presses promote balance and core stability (abdominal, middle and lower back muscles are engaged when performing exercises on one leg). Your legs, hips, arms and shoulders will be burning from these superset combo exercises, which also build lower- and upper-body muscular endurance needed for long games and extra-long practices.
Resistance Band Circuit No. 2
If you're exercising outdoors, loop the band around an immoveable object like a tree trunk or a pole. At home, loop it around a bedpost or other sturdy object.
Bent Over Rows/Side Lunges & Twists
- Loop the band around a pole, post or tree at waist level.
- Assume an athletic stance 1 to 2 feet away from and facing the pole.
- Bend at the waist holding the handles with an underhand grip.
- Explosively pull the handles toward your waist, pause one second, then return to the starting position in two seconds.
- Perform as many reps as you can in 60 seconds.
- Without rest, turn laterally right and hold both handles close together.
- Lunge with your right foot while simultaneously pulling the handles across your body.
- Pause one second, return to the starting position and perform as many reps as you can in 60 seconds.
- Repeat this routine on the left side.
Squat and Chest Pressouts/Alternating Forward Lunges and Presses
- Face away from the post, tree or pole and hold the handles with an overhand grip at chest level.
- Squat and simultaneously press the handles quickly away from your chest.
- Hold one second, return to starting position and do as many Squats/Pressouts as you can in 60 seconds.
- Without rest, alternately lunge forward with your left foot and press the handle with your left arm away from your chest.
- Quickly return to the starting position.
- Lunge forward with your right foot and press the handle with your right arm away from your chest.
- Alternate left-right Lunges/Presses for 60 seconds.
- Rest 30 seconds and hydrate.
- Repeat Circuit 2 exercise combos.
- Finish with upper- and lower-body cool-down static stretches.
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