Going to the gym and working on expensive weight machines is not the only way to get a total-body workout. With a lightweight, inexpensive stretch band -- sometimes referred to as a resistance band -- you can work all the major muscle groups just about anywhere, whether you're at home or on the road. A stretch-band routine consisting of several upper- and lower-body exercises -- performed three days per week on non-consecutive days -- can help you maintain and improve your strength.
Warm up your muscles and prepare your body before you start your workout, to avoid strains and pulls. Perform 10 minutes of light aerobic activities followed by five minutes of dynamic stretching. Focus your stretches on muscles you'll target during your resistance-band workout.
Work your shoulder muscles with shoulder presses. Step on the middle of your band with your feet shoulder-width apart. Grab and wrap the ends around your hands for a secure hold. Bend your elbows and bring your hands up to the sides of your shoulders to the starting position. Extend your arms above your shoulders and toward the ceiling, return slowly to the starting position and repeat.
Stand on your band to perform biceps curls. Start with your arms hanging straight by your sides with the ends of the band wrapped around your hands. While standing tall with your elbows tucked close to your sides, bend your arms and pull your hands up until your forearms are vertical. Reverse the movement and repeat.
Step back off the band with your left foot and keep your right foot on the band to perform triceps kickbacks. Lean forward at your waist until your torso is almost parallel with the floor. Start with your right elbow bent 90 degrees and tucked against your side. Keep your upper arm still and extend your elbow until your arm is straight. Reverse to the starting position and repeat. After completing one set, repeat with your opposite arm.
Wrap the band around your back, just below your shoulder blades, and wrap the ends around your hands to perform chest flyes. Start in a "T" position -- arms extended straight out to your sides, parallel to the floor and your palms facing forward. Bend your elbows slightly and bring your hands together as if you were hugging a big tree. Return to the "T" position and repeat.
Step onto the band with your feet hip-width apart to perform squats, which target your butt and thigh muscles. To start, grab the ends, wrap them around your hands and bring your hands to the sides of your shoulders. While keeping your head and chest up, bend your knees and hips and lower your body as if you were about to sit in a chair. Stop when your thighs are parallel to the floor, return to the starting position and repeat.
Stand on the middle of the band so it's directly beneath the balls of your feet to perform calf raises. With the band securely wrapped around your hands, extend your arms downward by your sides. Shift your weight forward, lift your heels off the floor as high as your can and pull up on the band, keeping your arms straight. Reverse your movements and repeat.
Target your back muscles with stretch-band rows. Sit on an exercise mat and extend your legs until your knees are almost straight. Loop the middle of the band around your arches and wrap the ends around your hands. Start with your hands to the outside of your knees. While keeping your back straight, pull your hands back as far as you can, slowly return to the starting position and repeat.