Power tubes are elastic resistance bands on steroids. They are made from a double layer of elastic, which increases their durability. Most manufacturers include stainless steel clips, which allow you to attach up to five tubes at a time, and secure the tubing to a stable object or door frame. All of your muscles respond enthusiastically to power tube exercise, but your internal and external obliques will particularly enjoy this new twist on abdominal workouts.
Meet Your Obliques
Your left and right internal obliques and your left and right external oblique muscles make up your oblique muscle group. These muscle pairs coordinate with each other to perform upper torso rotation. Any abdominal oblique exercise engages the internal oblique on one side and the external oblique on the opposite side. Your obliques also come into play during abdominal flexion exercises and side-bending movements. The internal obliques have literally got your back, because they stabilize your pelvis during certain types of movements.
Activating the Serape Effect
Golf and tennis divas elevate rotation to an art form. The serape effect is the secret of their success. Your hip, oblique and upper back muscles create the serape effect. Your human "serape" features a crisscross design similar to that you might have seen on upper body coverings sold at Latin American flea markets. As your hips move in one direction, your upper body rotates in opposition. Even the nerdiest of high tech manufacturers have yet to come up with a machine that accommodates this movement pattern. No wonder professional athletes use power bands to mimic it. Standing oblique exercises that simulate wood chopping respond well to band training, and they have direct carry-over into many sports.
Pilates-Evolved Oblique Exercises
Many of the most common oblique exercises evolved from the Pilates method. The crisscross, also called the bicycle maneuver, is an example. An American Council on Exercise study determined that this supine exercise is one of the most effective for engaging the abdominal and obliques.The Pilates corkscrew involves lying face up, lifting your hips, and circling your legs, while the half rollback with obliques is a half sit-up with upper body rotation. The power bands add a new level of challenge to these exercises. If your budget does not leave room for Pilates equipment sessions, these exercises with power bands offer a satisfying alternative.
Grab a Partner
Resistance might be futile when it comes to arguing with your husband, but you can put that tension to good use during a power band partner oblique workout. Partners stand sideways to each other and hold one end of the tubing with both hands. Lunge forward with your outside leg, while rotating your upper body away from your partner. Perform 15 reps and then switch sides. Step further away from each other to make it harder.
In 1999, Lisa Mercer’s fitness, travel and skiing expertise inspired a writing career. Her books include "Open Your Heart with Winter Fitness" and "101 Women's Fitness Tips." Her articles have appeared in "Aspen Magazine," "HerSports," "32 Degrees," "Pregnancy Magazine" and "Wired." Mercer has a Bachelor of Arts in psychology from the City College of New York.