We trainers are always looking for new and innovative ways to accomplish the same goal — helping our clients get into better shape. In addition, I’m personally always looking for fitness products that are affordable for my clients to use on their own at home and on the road. Well, the Ultra Toner resistance band has been on the top of my list for over a decade as one of the most affordable, portable and USEFUL at-home fitness toys.
First off, the Ultra Toner is a rubberized resistance band in the shape of a figure 8. And yes … some do view it as a toy! I remember when my youngest son was around 9 years old and he and his friends would put the Ultra Toner on their ankles and run around the basement playing tag — quite the workout. But on the serious side, this band can be used as resistance while performing lots of functional resistance exercises. If you want to pump up a stale routine, feel the muscle burn and get some fast results, grab an Ultra Toner and keep reading.
I teach several muscle conditioning group fitness classes a week, and I use the Ultra Toner all the time — my clients and members love it! From seniors to the fit athlete, they can choose the correct resistance level based on color and get a great workout. Don’t try to compare it to an exact weight; go with the feel of the band and the amount of effort you need to achieve intensity.
How to choose the right level of resistance
The Ultra Toner bands come in a range of resistance levels, from easy-to-stretch to progressively more difficult. Yellow is the lightest resistance, used often by beginners. The most popular color is green, which is considered light resistance, and the red band is considered medium resistance. The blue band is more intense; I suggest it for exercises where you want to do less reps with more resistance. But the beauty of the bands is the ability to perform muscle endurance exercises — continued repetitions of the same movement until muscle fatigue. I personally switch between the green and red depending on the muscle groups being worked.
To determine which color is right for you, use this rule of thumb: You should reach moderate to maximum muscle fatigue between 20-30 repetitions. If your band is too easy, you’ll know. If it’s too hard, you won’t be able to complete the full range of motion. Stay in control and keep a steady pace; adding music with a constant tempo is also a great way to keep a rhythm going and motivate yourself.
5 ways to use the Ultra Toner
1. Place the Ultra Toner on your shoes, squat down low and side-step to the right four times then left four times. Continue to do this until fatigue, working the lower body — specifically those medial gluts and quads. I tell my clients: “Imagine you are sweeping your buns across a picnic bench.”
2. Keep the Ultra Toner on your shoes and sink down into a plie (wide stance, heels face together, toes apart). Hold an isometric plie as you lift and lower the heels, working the calves and legs while incorporating core body balance.
3. Stand tall with the Ultra Toner on your shoes. Try balancing on one foot while performing quad lifts, moving into leg extensions.
4. Hold the Ultra Toner in your hands, pull open across the chest working the rhomboids and mid back. Balance on one foot and incorporate the core body stabilizers.
5. Try using it during your ab routine. Place the band on one shoe and hold the other handle in opposite hand. In supine crunch position, pull the handle and press your foot away as you do your bicycle ab exercises. You have added resistance, and it requires balance and mind-body connection as you push and pull.
These are just a few of the many ways to incorporate the Ultra Toner into your routine. You can mimic many everyday activities with this band like rowing, pumping and side-stepping. By adding music and continuing the repetitions to fatigue, you also get the heart rate up and burn up the calories. For me and my clients, it’s a great change of pace from using heavy weights with fewer reps. It’s important to do both forms of training: Work on both muscle strength and muscle endurance for a functional, fit and fantastic body!
For more ways to use the Ultra Toner, go to SPRI.com and watch the video clips. Or try these other types of resistance bands and workout ideas from Gaiam, SPRI’s parent company.
Just give it two weeks! Check out my new book 2-Week Total Body Turnaround.