Resistance bands can give you a better, safer workout than free weights. Bands don't inflict the impact or stress on your joints and tendons that free weights do, and unlike free weights, bands put your support and stabilizer muscles to work by generating resistance from several directions. Rubber and latex products that are formally packaged and sold as resistance bands are easy to find, and fashioning your own homemade resistance bands allows you to customize your equipment to your personal level of strength, often at a lower price.
There are plenty of options you can use to make homemade resistance bands. There are giant rubber bands that come in various thicknesses, for example. The thicker they are, the more resistance they provide. Parachute and bungee cords can be used as well. They provide resistance but don't have as much variety in thickness. Surgical tubing is another option that is handy to use for resistance training and offers more choices in thickness. For those on a budget, a pair of pantyhose can be used for most resistance band exercises.
Supplies are easy to find for making your own resistance bands. Hardware stores and fitness shops carry large rubber bands. Camping and outfitter shops typically carry bungee and parachute cord. If you want to make resistance bands from surgical tubing, your best bet is the nearest medical supply shop. You can also try an urgent-care clinic or hospital.
Many oversize rubber bands come in circular form, just like office supply rubber bands. These can be used as is, without having to modify them or attach handles. Parachute cord, bungee cord, surgical tubing and some oversize rubber bands come as straight cords, tubes and bands. With these, you can either tie the ends together to create a circular band or you can attach handles to either end. To attach handles, run 10 to 12 inches of nylon cord through 4-inch lengths of PVC pipe and then securely tie the ends of the cord to the ends of the band.
You can add optional pieces to your basic resistance bands to increase the number of ways you use them. For example, you can use carabiners to attach bands together or to lengthen single bands if you are tall and want to do squats. Small, heavy-duty, office-supply rubber bands can be used to lengthen resistance bands as well. Additionally, you can hang a coat hook over the top of a door to attach your resistance bands so that you can do lat pull-downs and triceps push-downs.
- Matt Siaperas, personal trainer, gym owner; Hardbodies Gym; Blackfoot, Idaho
- Army Times: Do-It-Yourself Gym
- Stack: The Many Benefits of Resistance Band Training