Stephanie Thielen by Stephanie Thielen

Resistance tubing—also known as exercise bands, resistance bands or stretch bands—is a staple piece of fitness equipment, which can be found in any gym or group fitness studio.

Easily one of the most portable pieces of exercise equipment, resistance tubing is unique in that it allows for “on-the-spot” adjustable resistance. This can be accomplished by adjusting the tension of the tube or by moving the body closer or farther away from the anchor point.

Tubing comes in lots of fun colors, but it’s the thickness of the tube you want to pay attention to—the thicker the tube, the greater the resistance; the thinner the tube, the lower the resistance.

Before you get started, here are a few tips to help you make the most out of exercising with resistance tubing.

  • Tension: Tubing offers up continuous tension throughout the entire exercise, which in turn forces the body to stabilize and activate more muscles at one time. Before beginning any exercise, create tension in the tube. You should see and feel the tube become activated.
  • Anchor point: By changing the anchor point, or where the tube is attached to, you can challenge muscles groups at different angles, speeds and body positions. This is what makes this piece of equipment fun and offers up creative ways to change up your traditional workout.
  • Holes: Tubing is vulnerable to wear and tear. Before any workout session examine the tube closely and discontinue use if you encounter a tear, no matter how small it may be.

Exercise: Squat


Anchor Point: Middle

Set-up: Secure one end of the tube around a sturdy object at chest height. Grab the other end of the tube and position the body so the right side is facing the anchor point. With the arms out in front at chest height, choke up on the tube to create tension. You should feel that the tube is pulling you toward the anchor point.

Execution: Keep the arms out in front and tension on the tube as you perform a traditional squat. This version challenges the body to resist shifting toward the anchor point and to stay centered during the squat.

Exercise: 3-Way Posterior Pull

3-Way Posterior Pull

Anchor Point: Middle

Set-up: Wrap the tube around a sturdy object at chest height. Cross the tube before grabbing each handle.

Execution: Open your arms and pull the tube back into three different positions, in the following order: center, right diagonal, left diagonal.


Exercise: Squat with Overhead Pull

Anchor Point: Low

Set-up: Secure one end of the tube around a sturdy object at ankle height. Grab the other end of the tube and position your body so that you are facing the anchor point and far enough back to feel tension in the tube.

Execution: Lower down into a squat. As you stand up, pull the tube to an overhead position while keeping the arms straight. Pause at the top before lowering back down into the squat.

Exercise: Arm Running

Arms Running

Anchor Point: Back anchor underneath one foot

Set-up: Step onto the tube with the left foot and step the right foot through; place the right foot in front and the left foot on the anchor point. Focus on keeping the left heel grounded to the floor so that the tube does not slide from underneath the foot.

Execution: With the elbows bent at 90 degrees, pump the arms as if you were running.

For more creative ways to break a sweat, check out this complete list of resistance tubing exercises.