Playing with resistance bands and stability balls at the gym is a little like enjoying an adult-approved recess. And the only thing that makes playground time more fun? Sharing it with a friend.
Grab the Thelma to your Louise, a stability ball and resistance band, and put yourselves through the paces. Your muscles may scream as you do each exercise, but you’ll be laughing so hard you’ll hardly notice.
Perform the series of exercises as a circuit, then repeat two or three more times.
1. Resistance run
Wrap a resistance band around Thelma’s torso, gripping each end of the band. Step a few feet back, planting your feet slightly wider than hip-distance apart. Sink down into a squat, pressing your hips back and keeping your weight in your heels. Extend your arms fully in front of you and engage your core.
Once you’re in place, tell Thelma to “go!” She runs in place against the resistance of the band — you’re keeping her from running away — for 60 seconds.
Switch roles and repeat.
2. Stability ball squat
Place a stability ball between you and your buddy, so you’re both leaning your backs into the ball. It can be a little tough to find the right balance, so be sure to talk to one another to make sure you both feel reasonably stable. Step your feet out slightly in front of you, your weight in your heels. On the count of three, both of you bend your knees and press your backs further into the ball to sink down into a squat. Talk to one another to stay in sync! When you’ve gone as low as you can into the squat, reverse the movement: Press into your heels with your back pushing against the ball and return to standing.
Continue for 60 seconds.
3. Chest press and row
Stand a few feet in front of Thelma, gripping the ends of a resistance band in each hand so the center is looped behind you. Thelma should grab the center of the band with both hands about chest-distance apart — her arms extended forward at shoulder height. Starting with your fists at your shoulders, palms facing down, press against the resistance of the band and extend your arms fully in front of your chest. Return to your starting position.
Once you’re done with your chest press, prepare yourself to provide resistance for your partner. Engage your core and lean slightly forward, keeping your fists steady at your shoulders. Thelma squeezes her shoulder blades together, drawing her elbows back as she pulls the band to her chest.
Continue this chest press and row exercise for 60 seconds before switching roles.
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4. Stability ball lunge
This one takes communication, so be sure to talk with your partner!
Place a stability ball on the ground between you and Thelma — both of you turned with your back to the ball. There should be a couple feet of space between your feet and the ball. Working as a team, each of you should reach your right leg behind you, placing your right foot on top of the ball. Check your balance, centering your weight on the heel of your left foot.
When you’re both reasonably steady, bend both knees, lowering your torso toward the ground while maintaining a strong core. When you’ve gone as far as you can, try to keep your front knee aligned with your front toe, press through your heel and press yourself back to standing.
Continue for 30 seconds before switching legs.
5. Superman lats and biceps curl
This one’s especially fun, and when you’re in the superman position, it really works the entire back side of your body.
Lie on the ground on your stomach with Thelma kneeling a few feet in front of you — gripping the ends of the band in each hand, her upper arms tight to her sides, her elbows bent and palms facing up. Reach forward, grabbing the center of the band with your palms down about shoulder-width apart. The band should be taut between you.
Tighten your core and lift your hands and feet up off the ground in a “superman” position. Tighten your upper back and shoulders and draw your shoulder blades together with your elbows bending out laterally from your body as you pull the band to your chest. Reverse the movement and extend your arms.
From this position, prepare to provide resistance for Thelma’s biceps curl. As you hold your hands steady, Thelma engages her core. While keeping her upper arms “glued” to her sides, she bends her elbows and pulls against the resistance of the band to draw her fists to her shoulders. She then returns to the starting position.
Continue for 60 seconds before switching roles.
6. Squat and triceps extension
Stand a few feet behind your buddy. She should stand tall, feet hip-distance apart, her arms extended overhead while holding the ends of a resistance band in each hand. The center of the resistance band should hang behind her. Grasp the center of the resistance band, pulling it taut at shoulder height with your arms extended in front of you.
From this position, Thelma bends her elbows behind her, keeping her upper arms close to her ears. Once she’s set, squat down by pressing your hips behind you with your weight in your heels, pulling the resistance with you as you keep your arms steady at shoulder height.
When you return to standing, prepare to provide resistance for your friend. Tighten your core and work to maintain your arms at shoulder height. Thelma then uses her triceps to press up against the resistance band, extending her arms overhead without allowing her elbows to bend out to the sides.
Continue for 60 seconds before switching positions.
7. Stability ball plank
You’re going to get up close and personal for this one — be sure to communicate throughout the exercise.
Kneel on the ground with a stability ball between your partner and yourself. Lean forward as a unit, placing your forearms against the ball. Press into the ball for support and step your feet behind you so your weight is balanced on the balls of your feet and your forearms. Your body should form a straight line.
Pull your core tight and hold the position for 60 seconds.
8. Stability ball sit-ups
Sit on the ground with your knees bent and your heels touching the ground with the balls of your feet pressing into Thelma’s. Holding a stability ball in your hands, engage your core and roll back onto the ground, reaching the stability ball behind you before reversing the movement as you use your abs to pull yourself back to sitting. As you come to sitting, toss the stability ball to your partner so she can perform the same sit-up.
Continue alternating sit-ups for 60 seconds.