Gear Guide: An Ultra-Portable Strength Workout
By Su Reid-St. John
I always have the greatest exercise intentions when I go on vacation. I toss a resistance band in my suitcase and vow to stick to my usual strength-training schedule. But when I pull the band out, my dumbbell-accustomed brain suddenly goes blank regarding what to do with it. The result? I end up tossing it back in my bag, doing a few push-ups, and calling it a day.
This Christmas vacation, though, that won’t be a problem. Here’s why: I recently came across a resistance band that actually has a workout printed right on it. Brilliant! Don’t let the stiff-sounding name—the Medstac Original Med’s Band—scare you off. This is a really handy little invention. (Last minute stocking stuffer, anyone?)
Along the length of the band—which comes in either light or medium resistance (heavy and extra-heavy versions are in the works)—there are four warm-up, eight strength, and four cool-down moves demonstrated via outline figure drawings. The simple drawings are generally quite easy to follow. Assuming a couple minutes each to warm up and cool down (the band doesn’t say how long to do those particular moves) and the recommended one set of 15 reps for each strength move, the whole workout could be knocked out in about 10 or 12 minutes—not a bad thing when I'm visiting family in Vermont and itching to get out and play in the snow.
The moves themselves are solid, but the mix isn’t ideal—that’s the one fly in this particular ointment. Out of the eight strength moves, only two involve lower body muscles, which seems odd. And none of the moves specifically targets the core (abs and lower back). It's a surprising oversight, given how important the core is for so many of the functional things—like lifting, twisting, and bending—that we all do every day. (Plus, it’s essential for a good-looking midsection!) It’s not a deal breaker—I’ll just add some bicycle crunches to my vacation routine—but perhaps something for the Medstac folks to consider if they decide to update the band at some point.
That glitch aside, this is one item that now has a permanent place on my packing list.
Product: Medstac Original Med’s Band
Pros: A truly portable way to bring your strength workout with you when you’re traveling. The moves are easy to follow and printed right there on the band.
Cons: The strength routine is short on lower body moves and doesn’t include any core-targeted exercises.
Cost: $13 (light resistance) and $14 (medium resistance) at www.Medstac.com
Extra tip: There are no form tips, so if you’re new to resistance bands, take a moment to visit the American Council on Exercise’s website for some basic move how-tos. (Click on “Resistance Bands/Cables” under “Exercise Library, Equipment Needed.")