One of the hardest things about getting in shape is simply finding the time to do it! Most of our lives are packed with activity from the time the alarm goes off until we drop into bed. Finding the time to drive across town and spend an hour at the gym can be nearly impossible. Between work, school, and playing chauffeur to children all evening, it doesn’t leave us much time to go workout. Which is why you need a workout that takes your life into account: a busy mom workout!
So Coach Kate and I have created a set of three workouts for busy people on the go. Our thought was to create a workout with minimal equipment; a quick thirty-minute workout; a workout for people pressed for time; a workout for people who are rarely home. Ideally, these can be done during that hidden down-time. Like the hour you spend sitting around while your kids practice dance, sports, or musical instruments. All you need is a resistance band, flexible clothing, and a bit of space to yourself!
Are Resistance Bands Effective?
YES! Resistance is resistance. It doesn’t matter whether you are using free weights, machines, or resistance bands. As long as you are giving your muscles something to work against, you can build strength. It’s important to adjust the tension on your band so that you feel resistance throughout your entire range of movement in the exercise. After all, remaining under tension is one of the best ways to ensure improvements in strength and muscle growth. Plus, resistance bands provide more resistance the further you stretch them. This helps challenge your muscles most when they are at their strongest joint positions. And resistance bands don’t let you use momentum to move them. You’ve got to push the whole way!
Is a 30 Minute Workout Effective?
Absolutely! Any exercise, even as little as ten minutes, is better than none. Remember intensity is one of the most important factors in the results you see from a workout. So if you keep the breaks between sets short, like 30 seconds or so, you can really get a good cardio and strengthening response with these workouts. High-Intensity Resistance Training can build muscle while being as good or better than sustained cardio when it comes to heart health.
Three Busy Mom Workouts
These workout routines are designed to give you a full-body workout in the 45 minutes that you would otherwise be scrolling on your phone while waiting for the kids to get done with practice. Each of these programs includes a quick warmup, a leg exercise, pressing exercise, and pulling exercise finished off with a full-body exercise. Each will work your arms, chest, back, butt, and legs. They require minimal equipment: just a body band and some space! Videos and descriptions of each banded exercise follow the daily programs so you can be sure you are doing them right. If you find you are short on time, just knock one set off of each exercise. If you have extra time, add a set to each of them.
And be sure to adjust the tension of your bands to give you a good amount of resistance. You should be struggling to complete the last rep in each set. And you should rest for about 30 seconds to a minute between each set. You don’t need to completely catch your breath before starting the next set when doing the harder exercises.
What if I can’t do that many reps of these exercises?
Doing 8-12 repetitions of each of these exercises may seem like a lot. If you struggle to do that many reps, just let the band loosen up a bit. If the band is as loose as possible, just do as many reps as you can get each set and build from there! And if you get to the point where you are able to complete 12 reps easily, congratulate yourself and move up to a band with a little more oomph to it.
Busy Mom Workout Program #1
- Warm Up: Alternate Sets of Jumping Jacks and Monster Walks. Do three sets of each.
- 10 jumping Jacks followed by 5 Monster Walks Right then 5 Left. Repeat the group two more times.
- Single-Leg Press: 3 sets of 8-12 reps on each leg. Alternate legs without resting between sets. So do the right leg 8-12 reps, then immediately switch and do the left.
- Push Ups: 3 sets of 10 push-ups. If you can’t do regular pushups, do them from your knees. If you can do more than ten regular pushups without rest, then do banded pushups instead.
- Upright Row: 3 sets of 10, each arm. Again, you want to switch from one arm to the other without pause.
- Banded Thruster: 3 sets of your maximum effort. If you are a beginner, expect to be able to get about 4-6 of these. Or aim for ten if you are in good shape!
Busy Mom Workout Program #2
- Warm Up: 30-second plank hold followed by ten air squats (just your body weight). Repeat this three times. If you can’t hold the plank for thirty seconds, just do your best!
- Single-Arm Overhead Press: 3 sets of 8-12 each arm. Alternate arms without rest.
- Banded Back Squat: 3 sets of 6-10. Rest a minute between sets.
- Biceps Curl: 3 sets of 8-12. Alternate arms without rest.
- Banded Deadlift: 3 sets of 4-6 sets. Choke up on the bands to give yourself plenty of resistance. You want these to be harder than the other exercises.
Busy Mom Workout Program #3
- Warm Up: 3 sets of ten situps or crunches followed by three sets of banded Glute Bridges.
- Banded Chest Press: 3 sets of 8-12. Rest 30 seconds to a minute between sets.
- Upright Row: 3 sets of 10, each arm. Switch from one arm to the other without pause.
- Double-Leg Press: 3 sets of 8-12. Rest a minute between sets.
- Good Mornings: 3 sets of 8-12. Rest a minute between sets.
LOWER BODY MOVEMENTS
Keep the band on the top of your shoulders with your hands in the same position as though you were holding a barbell. Use proper squat mechanics too: Sit back, keep your knees behind your toes, and an upright chest.
Banded Glute Bridges
Add some difficulty to your standard gluteal bridges with a resistance band. Push up your knees apart and drive the hips forward. Adjust the tension with your arms to provide a little extra workout. These will help tone that booty in no time!
A great way to work the glutes, quads, and hamstrings. You can see that Kate has crossed the band in the middle. This keeps the tension toward the center and makes you use your hips to keep balance. This also works the biceps as you hold tension on the band.
Many of us have imbalances in strength between the legs. Doing single-leg movements will help you to work on muscular balance and improving the strength in your weak side. And using the band helps to work the stabilizing hip muscles better than a machine ever could!
Monster Walks are by far one of the best ways to focus on the gluteus medius. This muscle is on the side of the hip and plays a huge role in power generation and core control. Diagonal monster walks like this help to prevent you from substituting other muscles. And it also adds a little booty work into the movement.
FULL BODY MOVEMENTS
Good Mornings are performed with a tight torso and a hinge at the hip as the main motion. This works the hamstrings and butt for strengthening but also offers a good stretch. You can see how Kate uses her arms to keep the tension even on the band throughout the motion.
This is one of the most demanding resistance moves ever. The full-body motion of a thruster uses nearly every muscle in your body, putting a huge demand on your cardiovascular system. So this one will build muscle while challenging your cardiac and respiratory systems as well.
The banded deadlift is a great starter for people unfamiliar with deadlifts. Bend at the knees but keep the band tensioned to feel resistance throughout the lift. It’s a great movement for core, glutes, and legs.
UPPER BODY MOVEMENTS
Banded Chest Press
Keep a stable base with your feet staggered and about shoulder width. And if the band is too long, you can grip it closer to the middle rather than putting your hands through the loop at the end. This one is a very good strength-builder if you can’t do push-ups yet.
Don’t get lazy on these! While the overhead press is a shoulder and arm workout, you need to keep your core tight and your body stable throughout. Be sure to keep your shoulder blades pinched together and try not to shrug. Because you don’t want tension in your neck during this move.
Again, keep your core tight during this move. You should adjust the length of the band to provide tension throughout. You don’t want it to be totally slack when your arm is straight. You can see how Kate has a short length of it trapped under her foot to maintain proper tension.
Start with a stable base and tight core. Choke up on the band to provide tension throughout the movement. This will work your back and biceps well, just be sure not to pull too far back. You shouldn’t feel any pinching in your neck at the end of the pull.
Banded Push Ups
Adding resistance of any kind takes push-ups to a whole new level. These are for the advanced pusher-uppers out there. But feel free to do regular push-ups. Or try push-ups from your knees if you are just starting out.
Dr. James Larson is an orthopedic surgeon, trained and specializing in sports medicine and arthroscopic surgery. He started the LSO website to educate the functional fitness community of coaches and athletes. His mission is to help people understand their bodies and the sport of fitness so that they can stay healthy and prevent injuries.