There’s no question that our favorite things here at 12 Minute Athlete are quick efficient workouts and building new cool skills.
Yet if you want to continue getting stronger, fitter, and increase your athletic skill set, keeping your muscles open and flexible is crucial. Not only will it help you avoid getting injured and decrease recovery time, staying flexible will also help you be able to actually do some of those cool skills you’ve always wanted to do (bridges, anyone?).
I’ll admit, flexibility is one of my least favorite things to work on. So in my quest to become more flexible in the least amount of time possible, I’ve really fallen in love with band-assisted stretching.
Using a band along with your regular stretches can help you get the extra boost that you’d get with partner-assisted stretching, but without having to have another person there.
It helps you get the most flexibility boost in the shortest amount of time, which as you know tends to be what we aim for here.
Although most resistance bands will work for these stretches, I’ve been super impressed with Rubberbanditz bands for both stretching and helping to build up strength for different exercises (for stretching, I like the red and orange bands the best).
Not only are these bands super versatile and nearly impossible to break, they’re just a really cool company overall and play a big part in the calisthenics community that I love. Check them out if you haven’t already!
Of course, if you don’t have a band, you can also do most of these stretches with a towel—don’t let excuses hold you back from reaching your goals!
Here are 6 resistance band stretches to help increase your flexibility:
Lying Pike Stretch
This is a fantastic stretch to open up your hamstrings. The band makes this stretch similar to as if a partner were assisting you.
How to do it: Lie down on your back and wrap a band or a towel around your feet (it usually works better with if the band is folded in half first). Keeping your legs as straight as possible, engage your quads and pull your chest towards your legs. Start slowly, and go only as far as you can go while keeping your legs straight. Pause, then try and go a little further.
You can also flip onto your shoulders for an even deeper pike stretch.
Shoulder Warm Up Stretch
This is an awesome stretch to do before your workouts and helps get your shoulders warmed up and open.
How to do it: Step on a band (the smallest orange band works best for this), then grab the other end with both hands about shoulder-width apart. Move your arms back, forward, and side-to-side until you feel your shoulders opening up. Start slowly.
This is an awesome stretch for handstands or gymnastics flexibility training and the band helps you get deeper into the stretch faster.
How to do it: Sit on the floor with your legs straddled as wide as possible to each side. Fold a band in half, then hold each end of the band in one hand above your head. Keep your back flat, then lean your chest forward as far as you can while keeping your shoulders above your head. Your goal should be to get your chest to touch the floor, but just go as far as feels comfortable first.
Band Assisted Straddle Stretch
If you’re working on your middle splits, this band assisted straddle stretch can help you get there faster.
How to do it: Lie on the floor and loop a band around each foot. Straddle as wide as you can while still keeping your legs straight. Use your hands to press down on your thighs to get deeper into your straddle.
Kneeling Shoulder Stretch
This stretch will really help to open up your shoulders!
How to do it: Kneel on the ground with a band under your feet. Grab the other side of the band with both hands, then stretch both hands overhead, push your chest out, and breathe into the stretch. The more you stick your chest out and arch your back, the deeper this stretch will feel.
Standing Pike Stretch
This is another great hamstring opener that’s helped by the use of a band.
How to do it: Stand straight, fold a band in half and grab each end with both hands behind you. Bringing your arms up, bend over as far as you can while keeping your legs straight.