Exercise Tubing and Bands (cont.)

You can do more exercises with tubes and bands than you can with dumbbells. You can stand on them and do upright and bent-over-rows, lateral raises, front raises, overhead presses, and biceps curls; attach them to doors and do rows, trunk rotations, pull-downs, triceps kickbacks, pectoral flies, and abdominal work; use them with a partner for any of the above exercises (fun if you use a training partner); and attach them to your legs to work your hips, thighs, and gluteals (buttocks). You can invent your own exercises if you're creative and get a full-body workout if you desire. Commercially available workout guides and videos are also available to help you learn how to effectively work out with tubes and bands. Additionally, many fitness centers offer strength training and other classes that include workouts with tubes and bands.

Ask for an instruction sheet when you buy tubes or bands, and make sure to order a door strap to attach the tubes to a door. I prefer having two door straps so that you don't have to switch them between tubes. The strap is important because you can do rows, pull-downs, flies, and many other exercises when the tube is attached to a door (it mimics a high- or low-cable pulley machine this way). I mentioned earlier that I prefer the tubes to bands because of the handles. Handles make it easier to hold the elastic, so whether you buy tubes or bands, make sure that they have handles. As for what colors to buy, I suggest buying a set of four different colors to get you started. The idea is that you will get stronger as you use them and so you want the next color handy when you're strong enough to go to the next level. Plus, even at the beginning, you'll need different tensions for different exercises (you can lift more with biceps curls than you can with lateral raises). Ask the salesperson for assistance if you're not sure. A set of four typically costs $20 to $25. If you want an economy approach to getting stronger, you can buy just two different colors and double them up to increase the resistance (use a green and yellow tube together).

Tubing and bands are sold at sporting goods stores and many online sites. Search online for competitive pricing using the terms "exercise tubing," "exercise bands," and "exercise tubing or band videos." Keep in mind that vendors may use different names for the same product, so you may see tubes and bands called "resistance cords," "exertubes," or something similar, but they all function in the same way.

Go for It
Tubes and bands are safe, convenient, portable, versatile, effective, and inexpensive ways to do resistance exercise at home or on the road. I pack them every time I travel and use them at home when I don't go to the gym. They're great for a quick five-minute resistance exercise break, after a brisk walk, for a full-body workout, or in the gym to supplement your dumbbell or machine work. Be creative and use them consistently, and no doubt they will help you increase your strength and tone.

Enjoy your workout!

Getting Started

Below is a beginner program with tubes or bands. The program is broken up by muscle group and is designed to be performed three days a week. You can modify the order of exercises or days you work a specific muscle group if you like. Select tubes or bands with which you can do 10-15 repetitions to fatigue and do one to three sets per exercise. It's time to increase the tension when you can do more than 15 repetitions. Make all movements slow enough to feel a burning in the muscle.

Muscles grow during rest days, not training days, so you need to leave enough time to recover. You may only need two days of rest between sessions, but if you train very hard you may need as many as three or four days. You'll know if you need more rest if you're tired at your workout, your strength is diminishing, you find it difficult to get through the entire workout, or you are chronically sore. Listen to your body, and you'll get good results.

Here's the program.

Day 1: Chest and Triceps

Chest press

    1. Attach tube to a door at chest height.
    2. Stand with your back to the door holding the handles.
    3. Put one foot in front of the other for stability.
    4. Lift handles to chest height, elbows back, palms facing floor, and press straight away from chest.
    5. Return to starting position.

Chest fly (like a cable fly at the gym)

    1. Attach tube to the door at chest height.
    2. Stand perpendicular to the door with right side closest to door.
    3. Stretch right arm out toward door with tube handle in one hand.
    4. There should be tension in the tube.
    5. Lean forward so torso is parallel to floor.
    6. Pull arm across front of body with elbow slightly bent.
    7. Repeat for left arm.

Triceps press-down

    1. Attach tube to door at eye level.
    2. Hold handles with elbows bent 90 degrees at your side.
    3. There should be tension in the tube.
    4. Extend arm down by straightening it so that your hands end by your hips, and then return to starting position.

Day 2: Back and Biceps


    1. Attach tube to door at chest height.
    2. Put one foot in front of the other for stability.
    3. Hold handles with arms stretched out in front toward door with tension in the tube.
    4. Pull tube so that your elbows end up behind you (like rowing a boat) and then return to starting position.


    1. Hold handles with arms straight down along your sides and stand on tube so that it is securely under your foot and can't snap up (you should wear shoes).
    2. Bend elbows and lift the forearms up.
    3. Elbows should remain still.
    4. Return to starting position.

Day 3: Shoulders and Legs

Lateral raises

    1. Stand on tube so that it is securely under your foot and can't snap up (you should wear shoes).
    2. Hold handles with arms straight down along your sides, palms facing inward.
    3. Stand on tube so that it is securely under your foot and can't snap up (you should wear shoes).
    4. With elbows bent slightly, lift arms out to side and stop when hands are at chest level and arms are parallel to the floor.
    5. Return to starting position.