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Strength Training (cont.)

Exercise Tubing

Exercise tubing consists of elastic tubes with handles that can substitute for free weights or machines to help you build strength and tone. They come in various thicknesses to increase the tension (and are different colors to denote the tension). They have never been tested head-to-head against free weights or machines, but remember that resistance exercise is any activity that causes muscles to contract against external resistance. Tubing does just that.

What are the advantages of exercise tubing?

  • They are an inexpensive and versatile way to get started with resistance exercise.
  • You can do lots of exercises with them and even use them in a chair if you don't get around very well on your feet.
  • By using a door strap (a small strap that permits you to attach tubing to a door) you can do more exercises with tubing than you can with free weights or dumbbells.
  • You can start with a set of four for about $20. They come in colors to denote the tension.
  • They are portable and you can pack them in your bag for vacation or leave a set at your office for an occasional set of biceps curls when no one's looking!
  • They don't dent the floor if you drop them.
  • You can store them easily in a drawer, closet, or other convenient, out-of-the-way location.

What are the disadvantages of exercise tubing?

  • Over time, they may lose some of their elasticity and may need to be replaced.
  • If they rub up against a sharp object (a ring on your finger or if you wrap it around a table or sofa leg with sharp edges), they can snap.

Body Weight

You can use your own body weight for resistance exercise. Pushups, sit-ups, chin-ups, squat thrusts, lunges, and step-ups are just some of the exercises that you can do to strengthen your body. The advantage of these exercises is that you can do most of them anywhere, and even though you can't change your body weight to increase or decrease the resistance, there are some things you can do to increase the resistance. Here are some suggestions.

  • Pull-ups (to strengthen arms, back, and shoulders). Some people can't do even a single pull-up. What you can do to help is stand on a chair under a pull-up bar to lighten the load as you pull up (the chair supports some of your body weight). Outdoors on a tree limb you can ask a friend to support some of your weight by holding your feet!
  • Push-ups (to strengthen arms, chest, and shoulders). Don't worry if you can't do a traditional push-up. Here's a sequence that will get you there: wall push-up. Just like it sounds, lean against a wall about 2 feet from the wall with your back straight and push back and forth.
    • When wall pushes are easy, lean against a countertop.
    • When leaning against the counter gets easy, get on the floor on your knees and push against the edge of a sofa or your bed.
    • When the sofa gets easy, do a knee push-up on the floor. Like it sounds, you are on your knees with back straight and you lower yourself to the floor and then back up again. Most people, once they can do 20-25 knee push-ups on the floor, they can do one regular push-up (with knees off the floor).

Give the push-up progression a try!

No one method of resistance exercise is superior to the other. As long as your muscles are contracting against external resistance - whether it's dumbbells, machines, tubing, your own body weight, bottles of water, cinder blocks, (or even your 2-year-old!) - the exercises will work to build your strength and tone.

Last Reviewed 11/21/2017

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