Physio bands are one of my best friends in the gym. They’re great for shoulder health, great for activating my sleepy lats before a big pulling day, and even useful for building some muscular endurance through exercises like lat pulldowns and triceps extensions.
Lately, I’ve also been using them for my core—to bulletproof those abs!
Bands are particularly useful for the core because they really force you to stay as tight as possible and help to create a whole lot of tension in your body. If you don’t create enough tension during banded core movements, the band will manhandle you out of position. Having to fight hard to keep your position through bracing will help you get the most bang for you buck to build that core.
Bulletproof Abs Banded Exercise 1: Planks
I always hear people say, “Planks are easy.”
Considering the men’s world record plank hold time is 10 hours long, and a Canadian woman just broke the women’s word record time this May with a time of four hours and 20 minutes, there is an argument to be made that the one minute plank holds most of us do just aren’t that hard.
You will not be saying this with a banded plank!
I like to use a squat rack to anchor the band, but you can also use heavy dumbbells. Slide your body underneath the band, place the band in the center of your back and plank away. You’ll be surprised how much tension you need to build in your body to stop that band from pushing you down to the floor.
- 3 sets of 30 seconds each hold
Bulletproof Abs Banded Exercise 2: Bent Knee Hold
Use a heavy dumbbell to anchor one end of the band to the ground. Hang from a bar and have a partner place to other end of the band over your knees. Then hold with your knee at hip height (90 degree angle). You should feel your abs working overtime to stop your knees from being pulled down to the ground by the band.
- 3 sets of 30 seconds
Bulletproof Abs Banded Exercise 3: Banded Hollow Lat Pulldowns
Place the band over the pull-up bar and put a dowel through the band. Lay flat directly underneath the bar. Grab the dowel with your hands shoulder width apart and pull yourself into a perfect follow body position with your head and back off the ground, as well as your legs (leaving just your bum on the ground).
Hold for 2 to 3 seconds. Relax, lay flat again, and then pull yourself back into the hollow body position. You’ll feel like you’re working extra hard just to pull yourself into a hollow position.
- 3 sets of 20 reps
Bulletproof Abs Banded Exercise 4: Pallof Hold
A simple one, but a great one for the often underworked obliques.
Attach at band to a post. Face the wall. Grab the band and move away from the post (the further you are away from the post, the more challenging it will be). Interlace your fingers as you’re holding the band, pull it to your sternum, and then press the band straight out until your elbows are straight.
It helps to bend your knees a bit to keep your hips square and your spine neutral. You should feel the band trying to twist your body and pull you back to the post. Use your obliques to combat this twisting and do all you can to maintain your ground.
- 3 sets of 30 seconds per side
You can also try this as a Pallof press, meaning once you’re in the holding position, simply bring the band back into your chest and then press it out again.
- 3 sets of 20 reps per side
Bulletproof Abs Banded Exercise 5: Alphabets
From the Pallof hold position, start writing the alphabet in the air. Make sure you’re keeping your hips square and maintaining your ground. This will force you to stay as tight in your core as possible.
- 3 x 26 letters in the alphabet