Whether you’re a stay-at-home mom or a female executive, finding time to exercise can be a challenge. If you can’t get to the gym, don’t worry -- you can still get in a good workout with stretch cords or resistance tubing. Stretch cords can provide enough resistance to help you build muscle and tone your body. These inexpensive, versatile training aids can be taken with you while traveling, can easily fit in your desk drawer and are a must for the at-home exerciser. For a full-body workout, choose one or two exercises to work the major muscle groups in your upper body, core and lower body.
About Stretch Cords
Stretch cords or tubing are color-coded. Each color relates to a different level of resistance. In general, light-colored tubing offers the least amount of resistance and dark-colored tubing provides the most, according to MayoClinic.com. Shortening the length of the tubing can also increase the amount of resistance no matter the color. Adjustable handles and additional attachments, such as door anchors or ankle cuffs, are available. When choosing a cord or tubing, select one according to your strength level and use a resistance level appropriate to the exercise. Different muscle groups require different amounts of resistance, so you may want to buy a light, medium and heavy resistant cord.
Stretch-cord exercises such as shoulder shrugs, lateral raises, front raises and overhead presses work your upper back and shoulder muscles. To work the muscles at the front of your upper arms, try biceps curls, and for the muscles at the back of your upper arms, try triceps extensions. Wrist flexion and extensions are effective for strengthening your forearm muscles. Try the chest press or chest fly to work your pectoralis muscles.
To target your core, perform stretch-cord exercises that target your abdominal and oblique muscles. Your abdominal muscles are your six-pack muscles and run vertically at the front of your torso. Stretch-cord exercises such as the abdominal crunch, kneeling crunch or lower abdominal crunch effectively work your abs. The obliques run along the sides of your torso. Try trunk twists, side bends, oblique or diagonal chops to work these muscles.
To work your qlutes, quads and hamstrings, perform squats with resistance tubing, suggests the Mayo Clinic. Hamstring curls or lunges also target theses muscles. Try hip adduction and hip abduction exercises to target the muscles along your inner and outer thighs. An effective exercise for your calf muscles is calf raises and with tubing, the exercise is more intense.
Perform a 10-minute warmup before your workout. To help maintain muscular strength, work out a minimum of two times per week. Daily workouts are OK, but avoid working out the same muscle group two days in a row. For example, you can perform upper-body exercises on one day and work your lower body the next. The American Council on Exercise recommends that beginners do one set of 12 to 15 reps per exercise. Intermediate exercisers who have participated in strength training for at least three months can perform up to two sets, and advanced exercisers should perform two or three sets of 12 to 15 reps.
Some stretch cords contain latex, so if you are allergic to latex, use latex-free cords. With wear and tear, the cords can develop small tears and worn spots. Inspect the cords before using them. Avoid using the cords on rough surfaces, such as concrete, because this can damage the cords and cause them to break. Be sure you have a secure grip on the handle so it doesn't slip from your hand. With exercises where you stand on the cord, be sure the cord is secure underfoot. It's normal to feel soreness the first few days after your workout. However, if the soreness or pain lasts more than four days, contact your doctor.
- MayoClinic.com: How to Choose Resistance Tubing
- University of Arkansas Division of Agriculture: Strength Training with Stretch Tubes
- American Council on Exercise: Resistance Tubing Workout
- Strength Band Training; Phil Page and Todd Ellenbecker
- Brand X Pictures/Brand X Pictures/Getty Images