Build Muscle with a Band
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You don't need a ballet barre or a set of weights to get a good barre-inspired workout. In fact, dancers frequently turn to resistance bands to help them challenge and strengthen key muscles needed for ballet. (Ever wonder if you can really lengthen your muscles?)
Andrea Fornarola Hunsberger, founder and director of Elements Fitness in East Hampton, New York often uses resistance bands for her signature classes that blend barre and dance. For this workout designed by Hunsberger, take two resistance bands of the same strength (the more difficult the better!) and tie the ends together, then double it up so that the knot is on one side and the loose ends are on the other side. You'll also need a circular resistance band, or "booty band." If you don't have one, take one resistance band and tie the ends together so that it forms a circle, about one foot in diameter. Now you're ready to rock!
Photo: Corbis Images
Second Position Pulses
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A. Stand with feet wider than hip-width apart and turned out. Bend knees over the toes and drop butt to knee level. Take the doubled-up resistance band and hold it with both hands, arms extended straight out at shoulder height.
B. Begin to pulse legs by bending and stretching knees down 2 inches and up 2 inches. Then begin to draw the band up overhead and down to chest level, keeping abs engaged and the arms strong. Maintain a soft bend in the knees. Do 20 to 30 reps.
Second Position Thigh and Arm Presses
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A. Stand with feet wider than hip-width apart and turned out. Take the doubled-up resistance band in both hands and extend arms straight out at chest level. Bend knees over the toes and drop butt until parallel with knees, then lift just your right heel off the ground so that you are standing on the ball of the foot.
B. Begin to pulse the right knee back, using the inner and outer thighs. Legs should be pressing back while arms squeeze band out, pressing away from the body. Do 20 to 30 reps, then switch sides.
Overhead Shoulder Presses
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A. Step one leg forward into a lunge position, with both knees bent to form a 90-degree angle. Take the doubled-up resistance band and hold it in both hands, arms extended overhead.
B. Begin to bend and stretch the legs, keeping knees over toes, legs parallel, and abs engaged. While bending the knees, draw the arms down behind the head by bending the elbows. Keep the resistance band straight, drawing shoulder blades down the back. Return arms to the overhead position as legs straighten. Do 20 to 30 reps then switch to the opposite leg.
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A. Stand with feet wider than hip-width apart and turned out. Bend knees slightly and extend arms by the ears, drawing the resistance band high over the head.
B. Keeping the arms straight and in line with shoulders, lean to one side, squeezing the navel in towards the spine. Return to the middle, then lean towards the other side. That's one rep. Sequence the breath by exhaling every time you squeeze the obliques from side to side. Do 20 to 30 reps.
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A. Start on all fours. Hold one loose end of the resistance band under each hand and place right foot on the knot of the band.
B. Draw the right leg to hip level, bending at the knee and keeping the band in the center of the foot.
C. Begin to press the leg out in small movements, squeezing the glutes to lift leg. Keep abs lifted, spine in a neutral position, and weight shifted towards the working leg. Repeat 20 to 30 reps then switch sides.
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A. Start lying on back. Place a circular resistance band (booty band) around both legs, just between the knees and hips. Draw legs into a parallel bent-knee position with feet in a narrow "v" position.
B. Engage the abs, pulling the navel in towards spine, then slowly peel the back off the mat one vertebra at time, engaging the glutes and hamstrings as the hips start to rise.
C. Keeping the butt off the mat, pulse the legs out while tucking the hips down, then back up. Repeat for 3 to 4 minutes or for the length of your favorite song.
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A. Start seated on mat. Place a circular resistance band (booty band) around both legs, just between the knees and hips. Lay on the left side of the body and stack the legs, drawing the knees and the toes up. Gently resting head in left hand, place the right hand in front of the waistline.
B. Keep abs engaged and both feet together. Begin to lift and lower the leg squeezing from the right glute every time the leg lifts. Keep hips square and waistline long. Do 20 to 30 reps, then switch sides.
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A. Start seated on mat with knees bent, feet flat on the floor. Hold resistance band in both hands, arms extended out at chest level. Slowly curl the upper body down, making a "c" curve with your spine.
B. From the "c" curve position, curl the body up an inch and down an inch, exhaling on the up and inhaling on the down.
C. Add variations, twisting side to side and squeezing the band outwards to work the obliques. Do 10 to 15 reps forward and 10 to 15 reps side to side.