Stretchy latex strips about three feet long and six inches wide, exercise bands are small and light enough to carry almost anywhere. Cost: $2 to $6 each at sporting-goods stores and online. Buy four bands — two each at two different intensities (levels of resistance). Use the easier, low-intensity bands for arms and shoulders… use higher-intensity bands for chest, back, lower-body and abdominal exercises. For a full-body workout: Moving slowly, do eight to 12 repetitions of each exercise below. If an exercise seems too easy, move your hands closer to the center of the band to create more resistance. For seated exercises, sit in a straight-backed chair.
BICEPS CURL. Sit, feet together, with center of one band anchored under feet. Hold ends of band in either hand, palms up, elbows bent to 90° and tucked into your sides. Raise hands toward shoulders… lower to starting position.
TRICEPS TONER. Stand and hold end of one band in left hand, elbow bent so hand is behind head (palm facing you) and band hangs behind your back. With right hand, grasp band at waist level, palm facing out. Keeping right hand still, straighten left arm above head… return to starting position. Repeat on other side.
SHOULDER RAISE. Use two bands. Sit, feet six inches apart, each heel anchoring one end of a band. Hold free ends of each band at hip level in either hand, thumbs up, elbows slightly bent. Raise arms out to either side until upper arms, elbows and lower arms are all at shoulder height… lower arms.
CHEST PRESS. Sit or stand and wrap one band across your mid-back. Elbows bent, hold ends in front of you at chest height. Push forward, straightening arms… hold for two seconds… bend elbows to bring hands back toward chest.
BACK ROW. Sit, feet together, knees eight to 12 inches apart, center of one band anchored under feet. Hold left end of band in right hand and right end of band in left hand, so band crosses between knees. Start with hands at hip level, elbows bent, palms facing each other… pull elbows back and up, bringing hands to ribs… hold for two seconds, squeezing shoulder blades together… return to starting position.
LOWER-BODY SQUAT. Use two bands. Stand, feet hip-width apart, each heel anchoring one end of a band. Bring free ends of each band up and over shoulders from behind… grasp ends of bands… wrap bands around hands once or twice to create as much resistance as you can. Sticking buttocks out behind you (as if taking a seat), bend knees until thighs are parallel to floor… hold for two seconds, not allowing knees to come forward of toes… slowly rise to starting position (resistance from bands increases as you rise).
AB CRUNCH. Lay band straight out on floor. Lie face-up on top of it, knees bent, feet flat, tailbone anchoring one end of band and other end extending beyond head. Reach above head and grasp end of band with hands to create a “hammock” for head. Contract abs to lift head and shoulders off floor… hold for two seconds… return to starting position.