You don't need a set of free weights or a membership to the gym to strength train. With a simple item called a resistance tube, you can have all the necessary equipment in one length of rubber band. A resistance tube is just what its name implies -- a stretchy tube that gives resistance. You push against it or pull it during an exercise move to challenge muscles and build strength. It is small and lightweight, so it can be stashed and used anywhere when you have some spare time. You'll work a wide range of muscles without dropping a load of cash.
Choosing Your Resistance for Exercises
Different tubes will give you different amounts of resistance. The fitter you are, the higher your resistance level should be. Bands that are lighter in color provide less resistance while darker bands provide more resistance. Size matters, too. A band that is short will provide more resistance than a longer band.
For arm exercises with a resistance tube, you will need to choose a shorter tube than what you would use to exercise your legs. Some good exercises to do with tubing that target the arm areas are the biceps curl, triceps kickback, pull backs, internal and external rotations and triceps extension. To do these exercises, loop the tubing around the balls of one or both of your feet and hold the ends of the tubing in each hand. The best tubing for these exercises will have handles on each end of the tubing to make gripping easier. If your tube doesn't have handles, you may want to wrap the tubing around your hands for a better grip.
Hips and Leg Exercises
Squats, calf raises and lunges are good exercises for your legs, while standing hip abductions and hip abduction walks are a great way to use resistance tubing to build strength in your hip area. During squats, calf raises and lunges, the tubing is held under your feet with your hands gripping each end. To do a hip abduction exercise with tubing, thread one end of the tubing through the handle to create a loop. Put your ankle through the loop, stand on the other end of the tubing and pull the looped ankle away from your other ankle. Hip abduction walks uses a special type of tubing that has cuffs instead of handles on both ends. These cuffs velcro around your ankles. If you can't find these types of tubes, you can also tie loops at the each end of a short piece of tubing and loop the tubing over both your ankles.
Back, Abs, Shoulders and Chest Exercises
Back, abs and chest exercises can be done with tubing, too. Some examples are, weighted situps, good mornings, back flies, rows, shoulder presses, lateral raises, skull crushers, bench presses and cross overs. Many of these are done much like arm exercises. Some, though, require that instead of looping the band around your feet, you loop the band around a chair, pole or bench. Looping the band around these objects will hold it in place while you perform your exercise.
Since 1998 Alina McKee has written for dozens of traditional and online beauty, fashion, health and parenting publications including Pregnancy.org, Mama Health and Real Beauty. As a professional artist, her articles about these subjects have been used in magazines and websites around the globe. McKee has a diploma in fine art from Stratford Art School.