Have bag, will travel – take your gym on holiday with you

Going away for a weekend break, business trip or your annual fun-in-the-sun holiday? Wouldn’t it be great if you could take everything you needed to keep up with your fitness programme with you? Forget exceeding your luggage allowance by packing a pile of weights; the modern-day solution for keeping fit whilst away from home is light and fits into a bag small enough to carry on with your cabin luggage.

 

Technogym’s Wellness Bag is the ultimate in portable kit. At only 2.5 Kg, its compact exterior conceals the mini gym inside that lets you stretch and strengthen your whole body as effectively as you can do with free weights or a fixed weight machine.

 

Inside the wellness bag is a kit of accessories that includes four types of resistance bands, handles and ankle straps.

 

Resistance bands are a way of working your muscles for strength, endurance and flexibility that is easy on the joints, and targets muscle groups with controllable, constant tension.  However the real magic of resistance bands is their versatility – it is possible to target every major muscle group in the body. The limit on the type of exercises you can perform is really down to your imagination.

 

Resistance bands work on the principle of isokinetic movement. That is, more resistance is added throughout the duration of the exercise performed. This therefore controls the speed at which you are able to perform it.  Resistance training that uses free weights, instead of fixed weights on machines, works with isotonic contractions: the resistance provided by the weight as it’s being lifted remains constant while the speed it is moved at varies.

 

For example, imagine you are performing a bicep curl with a dumbbell.  Even though the weight of the dumbbell remains constant, it feels more difficult to lift it to the halfway-point than it does to raise it from the halfway-point to the end point. This is because the further through an isotonic movement you get the easier it becomes: the increase in speed means that the latter part of the exercise is also assisted by momentum.

 

Isokinetic exercises with resistance bands become more difficult as one progresses through the movement. This is because the tension in the band is at its strongest at the end of the exercise as this is when it is stretched the furthest. Consequently more strength is required to stop the band snapping back. Thus your muscles are being fully worked through every inch of every exercise, instead of only at the bottom.

 

Exercises with resistance bands can either be performed with the band anchored to an object or wrapped around a bench. However, they can also be done using your body to secure the band by standing on it, holding it between two hands, wrapping it around your body or using ankle straps to secure it to your lower leg. Ideal if you are in a hotel and there isn’t anything suitable to attach them to.

 

By shortening the length of the band, i.e. by holding it further down its length rather than at the end, or even doubling it by folding it in half, you can easily increase the strength of the resistance. Greater resistance and a lower number of repetitions (between 8 -10) is ideal for muscular strength training. Whereas lower resistance and more repetitions (between 12-15) will train your muscles for endurance.  It is even possible to get a cardio workout with your bands by using the longer length to do high rep sets of exercises like squats or lunges (i.e. 25 plus repetitions per set).

 

Below are 7 exercises you can perform with your resistance bands. Do 3 sets of each exercise: either 8-10 reps with a higher resistance for strength or 12-15 reps with a lower resistance for endurance. Rest between each set (2-3 minutes if working for strength and 1-2 for endurance). Also remember to warm up at the beginning, then cool down and stretch at end of your work out. An easy warm up/cool down would be to perform 1 set of each exercise without using the resistance bands.

 

Squat & Shoulder Press

This exercise is two-in-one that strengthens the legs, shoulders, and triceps.

 

  • Attach the handles to the long resistance band.
  • Stand with feet slightly wider than hip distance apart, the middle of the resistance band under your feet, holding one end in each hand.
  • Bend the elbows and position the hands just above shoulder height.
  • Push your hands above your head, straightening the elbows at the same time as bending your knees to perform a squat.
  • Slowly return back to the starting position.
  • This completes one repetition.

 

Bent over rows

Strengthens the back and shoulders (rear deltoids).

 

  • Attach the handles to the long resistance band.
  • Hold one end of the resistance band in each hand and stand on the middle of it with your feet slightly wider than hip distance apart, and with your knees bent.
  • Bend over at the waist with your body angled at 45 degrees.
  • Pull the resistance band up to your chest and then lower back down.
  • This completes one repetition.

 

Resisted push-up

Strengthens the upper body while focusing on the chest, shoulders, and triceps. Using the resistance bands increases the intensity of the push-up.

 

  • Attach the handles to the long resistance band.
  • Grasp one handle of the resistance band in each hand.
  • Loop the resistance band around your back at shoulder-blade height.
  • Get into the traditional press up position: your body is in a straight line from shoulders to heels resting on your toes. Alternatively you can rest on your knees, which will make the exercise easier if you aren’t able to do a full push-up.
  • Position your hands so that they are just slightly wider than shoulder-width apart.
  • Inhale as you bend your elbows, lowering your body to the floor. Keep your chin tucked in and your neck in alignment with the rest of your spine.
  • Stop lowering when your shoulders are even with your elbows.
  • Exhale as you press up to the starting position.
  • This completes one repetition.

 

Reverse Flyes

Focuses on shoulders, in particular the rear deltoids. This exercise is very good for strengthening the back.

 

  • Use a long resistance band without the handles attached.
  • Stand with your feet just over hip distance apart.
  • Hold the resistance band in front of you at chest height; wrap the ends of the resistance band around your hands to shorten it slightly.
  • Keeping arms straight, stretch the band out by pulling your arms out to sides .
  • Squeeze your shoulder blades together.
  • Return to start position.
  • This completes one repetition.

 

Split squat with biceps curls

Another two-in-one exercise – this one targets the quads, glutes, and hamstrings, as well as increasing strength in the biceps and forearms.

 

  • Attach the handles to the long resistance band.
  • Place the centre of the resistance band under your right foot and extend your left foot about two feet behind you.
  • Hold one handle in each hand with an underhand grip, arms straight .
  • Execute a biceps curl while bending your knees to lower into a lunge position.
  • Return to start position.
  • This completes one repetition.
  • Complete the desired number of repetitions.
  • Switch legs and repeat.

 

Glute Kickbacks

Targets glutes and hamstrings.

 

  • Get on your hands and knees and hold both handles under your chest. Loop the band around the arch of your right foot.
  • Keep your core tight and back flat, contract your glutes, and powerfully kick your right leg out as far as possible.
  • Hold it for 1 second and slowly return back to starting position.
  • This completes one repetition.
  • Complete the desired number of repetitions.
  • Switch legs and repeat.

 

Tricep extensions

Targets triceps and deltoids.

 

  • Attach the handles to the long resistance band.
  • Stand with feet just over hip distance apart and stagger your legs.
  • Stand on top of a band withyour back foot.
  • Grab the band with one arm on the same side as the leg that is standing on the band and raise it straight overhead.
  • Without moving your arm, bend at your elbow, and slowly lower your forearm until it’s roughly parallel with the ground. Keep your core tight and back straight.
  • Return to start position.
  • This completes one repetition.
  • Complete the desired number of repetitions.
  • Switch sides and repeat.