Exercises can be divided into four categories; push, pull, legs and core.
Push exercises are where you are pushing a resistance away from you, or are pushing your body away from a solid object. Push exercises typically work the muscles of the chest and shoulders, e.g. the pectorals and deltoids, and the triceps at the back of the upper arm.
Pull exercises are the exact opposite to push exercises, where you pull a resistance toward you, or you pull your body towards a solid object. These typically work the back muscles, e.g. latissimus dorsi, teres major and trapezius, as well as the biceps at the front of the upper arm.
Leg exercises are pretty self-explanatory and work the lower body. The major muscle groups worked are the glutes (backside), quadriceps, hamstrings and the calf muscles.
The core muscles are in many respects the most important. The core, as the name implies, supports the whole of the body. Strengthening everywhere else but not the core can lead to injuries. Conversely, strengthening the core prevents a lot of the lower back pain we seem to suffer from these days. Muscles worked here include the transverse and rectus abdominus, the oblique muscle groups and those of the lower back and spine.
Planning Your Workouts
It is important to have a balanced exercise programme each week. If you are exercising with resistance bands, you want to be working all of the major muscle groups. That means incorporating push, pull, legs and core exercises into your workouts each week.
A typical session may include two exercises from each category (i.e. 2 x push, 2 x pull, 2 x legs and 2 x core). Alternatively, if time doesn’t allow a full workout like this 2 or 3 times a week, shorter sessions focusing on one category of exercise each session could work better for you, e.g. Monday; push exercises, Tuesday; pull, Thursday Legs and Saturday; core exercises.
If you want to work on your core strength with an exercise ball, vary the exercises each session to ensure all of your core muscles are being worked. As you will see with our suggested exercises, you can also effectively work both your upper body and lower body with an exercise ball.
How many repetitions of each exercise?
If you are looking to improve your general health and fitness, we would suggest you perform between 10 and 15 repetitions (reps) for each exercise, which we would call one set. By doing fewer reps, i.e. 4 – 8, but with greater resistance, you are training more for strength. Alternatively, by doing more reps, 15 +, you are training for endurance.
We would also recommend you do 2 or 3 sets of 10-15 reps per exercise, with a short rest in between (30 – 60 secs).
OK, so let’s get started. Plan some workouts and put them into practice.