Ask the Trainer: Fitness bands

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Gym memberships can be pricey, but even if you have one, sometimes squeezing in a workout routine is tough, especially if you’re out of town.

But, fitness/resistance bands can help. They’re cheap and you can buy them just about anywhere. They’re compact so they can easily fit in a suitcase or drawer.

“The tubes are probably the number one thing as far as functionality,” said Doug Quinlivan, the owner of Ascent Fitness. “Those can take the place of pretty much anything.” Using your own body weight and adjusting your footing to change the resistance can quickly work biceps, triceps, chest, back and shoulders.

Start with bicep curls. Stand on the band with both feet. The wider your feet are apart, the tougher the workout. Then curl up, anchoring your elbows to your sides. Aim for 15 reps, 3 times.

Then, turn it around for a tricep extension. “Pull your elbows up to right behind your back and then straighten the arms out, while keeping your elbows in the same spot,” Quinlivan said. “The straighter you get that arm, the more you’re going to contract that tricep.” Again, aim for 15 reps, three sets.

Next, still standing on the band, stretch it up above your head. “This is working pure shoulders.” You may even need to take one foot off to decrease the resistance a bit.

Now it’s time for chest and back. Find a place to connect the bands to something stationary. “You can anchor those on doors, on poles, under your couch,” Quinlivan said.

“You’re just going to stand right here, knees slightly bent, hands about the same height as your elbows and you’re going to pull back and squeeze those shoulder blades together.” He added, “Imagine you’re trying to pinch my fingers between your shoulder blades when you pull back.” Hold each contraction for about a second, 15 times, 3 sets.

Then, turn it around to replicate a bench press. “So stretch back and again on this one you’re going to stretch open your shoulders and your pecks and get a good stretch, then pull them all the way together and squeeze,” Quinlivan explained.

Voila! “All of those different muscle groups with some simple exercises.”

If you have a question for the trainer, email