Resistance bands are lightweight, portable pieces of exercise equipment that can be used to do most exercises you may traditionally do with dumbbells or cable machines. They usually come in three "weights:" light, medium and heavy. You can buy them at sporting goods stores.
Resistance cables can be incorporated into a core routine to improve abdominal strength. You can do the oblique cable twist to strengthen your oblique and transverse abdominal muscles. You can also do cable crunches to work your rectus abdominal muscles. The oblique twist is done standing up with the handles of the cables in your hands and your palms together. Your arms are extended straight in front of you at chest height. The cable is looped around a pole or held by a friend. Put your feet hip-width apart with feet facing forward. Do not allow your feet to shift outward during this exercise. Adjust your distance from the pole or friend so there is a slight tension in the cable before you move. Twist your shoulders and waist, but not your hips to the right. You should feel this in your waist, not your arms. Twist back to the center. Do 10 twists to the right and then do 10 to the left. If you want to make this more challenging, stand on one leg or stand on one leg and a pillow. You can work up to two or three sets of 20 reps per side. An abdominal crunch is done the same way you would on a cable machine. Kneel on the ground with someone holding the cable above and behind you. Also, you can stuff the end of the cable through a door and close the door on it to hold it in place. Be careful not to pull the cable too hard or it could slip out of the door. From a kneeling position, hold a handle of the cable in each hand with your hands by your shoulders. Bend at the waist and crunch down halfway to the floor using your ab muscles to pull your body and the cable down. Allow your shoulders to round forward as you crunch. Sit back up and do another 10 reps. Work up to three sets of 10 to 20 reps. Do core exercises three to five days a week to increase core strength. You can use bands every day or incorporate them with other floor or ball exercises.
Resistance Training Exercises
Every major muscle group can be worked with resistance cables. This includes the chest, back, legs, deltoids, biceps and triceps. The chest can be worked with cable chest presses and cable chest flyes, the back with cable rows and cable reverse flyes, the legs with cable squats and cable lunges, the deltoids with cable lateral raise and cable overhead presses, the triceps with cable kickbacks and cable French presses, and the biceps with cable curls and cable reverse curls. A good full-body cable exercise to do is a cable squat with row exercise. Stand with your feet hip-width apart facing a pole or friend with the resistance cable. Hold a handle in each hand with your palms facing upward. Bend your knees and stick your hips back as if you're reaching for a chair. Allow your upper body to lean slightly forward. Hold the squat at the bottom and row your arms back by pulling your arms and shoulders back. Your elbows will bend and your elbows will brush past your ribs as they go behind your back. Pinch your shoulder blades together. Extend your arms forward again and then stand up. You can also do this exercise by doing the squat and then doing the cable row after you stand back up.
Number of Reps and Sets
Your fitness goal should determine the number of reps and sets you use during your workout. A heavy weight cable can be used to build muscle but will not be enough if your goal is maximal strength or heavy body building. For stabilization, muscular endurance and muscle toning though cables are excellent. Start with two sets of 12 repetitions with a light or medium weight cable. Likely exercises for your shoulders and arms will need a light cable, but your chest, legs and back may be able to use the medium weight. Use the cable that fatigues your muscles on the last rep but is still doable with proper form. Work up to two sets of 20 reps. This will improve your endurance and will increase strength through your support muscles and tendons as well as your major muscle groups. If you are looking to tone and define your muscles, do three sets of 8 to 10 reps with a heavier cable.