Bench & Resistance Band Total Body Workout

Hi guys!  Today I'm writing to you from a work retreat in West Greenwich, RI at the Whispering Pines Convention Center.  I'm here with my whole lab celebrating the end of the super busy summer of sleep research, and I'm actually celebrating my last summer here as I gear up for my move to Albany, NY.  The retreat is located in a pretty nice wooded area in southern Rhode Island, kind of like a luxury campsite.  Knowing I'd be away from home and out of my usual routine of going to class, I brought a set of resistance bands with me, and did the following workout during some downtime using the bands and a bench on a porch outside.  It takes about 30 minutes to do, each exercise lasting 1 minute (with 2 rounds total), and you'll alternate between band & bench.  Ready?!

Bench + Resistance Band Total Body Workout

Bench & Resistance Band Total Body Workout:

Alternate between band and bench exercises.  So, start with exercise #1 with the band, then move to exercise #1 using the bench.  Continue until you've done each pair 2 times through.


1. Squat + Lateral Raise - place the resistance band under your feet holding the handles in each hand.  Perform a squat.  Come back to standing and lift your right leg out to the side, keeping it straight and your foot facing forward.  Squat back down, and repeat on the other side.  Continue alternating sides between squats for 1 minute.

2. Bicep Curls + Pulse + Hold - keep the band underneath your feet.  Do 10 bicep curls, then 10 quick pulses, then a 10-second hold.  Keep going in that pattern for 1 minute, taking small breaks when you need to.

3. Seated Upright Rows - sit down on the floor with the band wrapped around your feet, holding the handles in each hand.  Keeping your back up straight and legs still, pull the band handles to reach your sides, in a rowing motion.  Continue the rows for 1 minute.  Trainer Tip: the tendency is to scrunch your shoulders when you pull, so try to focus on keeping your shoulders relaxed and down.  Think of pinching your shoulder blades together in the back at the top of the pull.

4. Donkey Kicks + Pulse - get into an all-fours position with a band handle looped on your right foot, holding the band in each hand on the floor (make sure there's tension on the band).  From here, bend your knee to 90˚ and kick your foot up toward the ceiling, pulling the band.  Do 10 kicks, and then 10 quick pulses.  Keep alternating kicks & pulses for 1 minute on the right leg, and then switch to the left for 1 more minute.

5. Standing Single Leg Raises - loop one handle around your right foot, and stand on the band with your left foot to keep it taught.  Stay standing, and flex your right foot, pulling your leg up to hip height.  Lower it back down to the floor.  Keep the leg raises going for 30 seconds on the right, and then 30 seconds on the left.

6. Resisted Push Ups - wrap the band around your back, between your arms and your sides, and get into a push up position on the floor with your hands flat, holding the band.   Do 10 push ups (or more) at a time, taking a break when you need to.  Keep going for 1 minute.


1. Box (Bench) Jumps - face the bench, squat down loading the legs, and jump up onto it.  Stand up straight, and then step down.  Continue the jumps for 1 minute, making sure to really squat down to power your jumps.

2. Incline Push Ups - place your hands on the edge of the bench and get into an angled push up position, maintaining a neutral spine.  Do as many push ups as you can in the minute, taking breaks when you need to. Trainer Tip: drop to your knees if/when you need to here.

3. Seated Straight Leg Lifts - sit on the edge of the bench, leaning back slightly to engage your abs, hands holding the edge of the bench.  Keep your legs straight and lift them up as high as you can off the ground.  Lower them back down, lightly tapping your feet to the ground.  Keep the lifts going for 1 minute.  Trainer Tip: if you want to challenge yourself a little more, add some 10-second holds here, too. 

4. Alternating Step Up Lunges - start in a lunge on the ground facing the bench.  Take your back leg, and in one motion, step up onto the bench, quickly bringing the other leg up to hip height.  Reverse that movement, stepping back down into the same lunge position as before.  Keep that going for 30 seconds on one leg, and then switch legs for the next 30 seconds.

5. Up & Under Planks - start in a plank with your hands on the bench.  Plank on one arm, reaching the other arm underneath you and then up above you, turning your body as you reach up to look toward your hand.  Turn back and reach underneath you again.  Keep going for 30 seconds on one side and then switch for 30 seconds on the other.

6. Raised Knee-to-Elbow Planks - start in a plank, this time with your feet elevated on the bench.  Take one leg and bring that knee out sideways to meet your arm.  Alternate legs, staying in a plank the whole time and engaging your abs to keep your spine in a straight line.

Remember to repeat that sequence one more time for the full workout!

Readers: chat with me!  Do you work out in your hotel rooms or while you're traveling?  Do you bring equipment with you or do you prefer bodyweight workouts?  What are some of your favorite exercises to do on the go?