Exercise Tubing and Bands (cont.)

Using Tubing and Bands
Your fitness goals will determine which color tube or band to use. Select a tube or band that you can lift eight to 12 times to fatigue if strength is your objective, and a tube or band that you can lift 12-15 times to fatigue if endurance and tone is your objective. Keep in mind that there is crossover in benefits, so if you lift eight to 12 times for strength you will still get toned, and likewise, if you lift 12-15 times for endurance and tone you will still gain strength. The important point is to work to fatigue on all sets, no matter how many repetitions you do, to gain benefits.

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.