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Fundamental fitness: Powerbands

The expert:

Matt Delaney, New York City-based national manager of innovation at Equinox

The interpretation:

Delaney takes a creative approach to the seven fundamental movement patterns with Powerbands. “I love using them in my training because they allow you to apply force from different angles and directions,” he says.

Plus, the resistance progressively increases, so that the farther you push or pull the band from its anchor point, the harder you have to work to maintain control. Throughout any single exercise, there’s a constantly changing stimulus that forces your body to adjust how it responds.

“Variable resistance and unconventional lines of pull create a dynamic environment that can lead to more diverse adaptations,” Delaney explains.

For example, looping the band around one shoulder and one foot during a squat presents a unique anti-rotational challenge. Its versatility also makes it easy to move in all three planes of motion. Testing yourself in these unfamiliar ways builds a resilient body, Delaney explains, which is just as important for moving well in daily life as it is for fitness performance.

The tool can provide these benefits anytime, anywhere. It requires very little space and presents a seemingly inexhaustible list of applications, he says. “I always pack one when traveling so I can train no matter where I am.”

The workout:

Below, Delaney demonstrates seven exercises that hit all the movement patterns. Do them as a standalone workout a few times per week or choose a handful to add to your regular strength routine, he says. Aim for 3 sets of 10 to 12 reps if using a thinner band or 3 sets of 6 to 8 reps with a thicker one. (A trainer or coach can help you get familiar with the band and make sure you’re performing the exercises correctly.)

Vertical push: Active beast hold with press

Secure the Powerband around an anchor point, such as a pole or park bench, about a foot or two off the ground. Assume an active beast position (facing away from the anchor point) by getting on all fours with shoulders over wrists, hips over knees, and knees hovering a couple inches above the ground. Hold the unsecured end of the Powerband in your left hand at your left shoulder, with elbow bent and arm by your side. This is your start position. In a controlled motion, press the Powerband overhead, then return to start for one rep. (Move farther from the anchor point to increase the resistance.) Perform all reps, then switch sides and repeat.

Vertical pull: plank with pulldown

Secure the Powerband around an anchor point, such as a pole or park bench, about a foot or two off the ground. Get in high plank position (facing the anchor point) with shoulders over wrists and feet at hip-width. Hold the unsecured end of the Powerband in your right hand with arm extended overhead. This is your start position. In a controlled motion, pull the power band toward your shoulder, then return to start for one rep. (Move farther from the anchor point to increase the resistance.) Perform all reps, then switch sides and repeat.

Horizontal push: Push-up with rotation

Secure the Powerband around an anchor point, such as a pole or park bench, about a foot off the ground. Stand a few feet to the right of the anchor point and kneel down. Loop the unsecured end of the Powerband around your right shoulder so that it stretches from the front of your right shoulder and behind your back to the anchor point. From there, get into high plank position with shoulders over wrists and feet at hip-width. This is your start position. Lower into a push-up, reverse the motion, and as you reach the top, simultaneously extend your right arm overhead and rotate your upper body, looking up toward your fingers. Lower the right arm and return to start for one rep. Perform all reps, then switch sides and repeat.

Horizontal pull: Single-arm kickstand row

Stand in a staggered stance with the left foot forward, right foot back, right heel raised, and a bend in both knees. Secure the Powerband under the ball of your left foot and hinge at the hips. With both arms pointing straight toward the ground, hold the unsecured end of the Powerband in your right hand. This is your start position. Pull the band toward your ribcage and continue the motion by rotating the upper body and stretching the arm straight up in line with the bottom arm. Return to start for one rep. Perform all reps, then switch sides and repeat.

Core: Windmill with press

Stand with feet at hip-width and turn them slightly to the left. Secure the Powerband under the ball of your left foot and hold the other end in your right hand, with the right arm extended overhead and the left hand at the band’s midpoint, just below your chest. This is your start position. Look up at the right arm and hinge into the right hip, so the right leg is straight and there’s a slight bend in the left knee. Without shifting your gaze, simultaneously hinge at the hips, rotate the torso, and press the Powerband out to the right with the left arm, keeping the right arm overhead throughout. Return to start for one rep. Perform all reps, then switch sides and repeat.

Hips: Hip hinge with overhead reach

Secure the Powerband around an anchor point, such as a pole or park bench, about a foot or two off the ground. Stand a few feet away from the anchor point with feet at hip-width and the unsecured end of the power band in both hands. Extend your arms toward the anchor point, hinge at the hips, press the glutes back, and lower slightly so there’s a bend in both knees. This is your start position. Simultaneously stand straight up and, keeping arms straight, extend them overhead and out to the sides so your body forms an X. Return to start for one rep. Perform all reps.

Knees: Anti-rotation squat

Stand with feet at hip-width. Secure one end of Powerband under the ball of your right foot, then wrap it around your left hip, behind your back, and around your right shoulder. This is your start position. Lower into a squat, pressing glutes back and keeping knees over toes, then return to start for one rep. Perform all reps, then switch sides (looping the Powerband under the right foot and around the left shoulder) and repeat.

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