If you're looking for a compact, lightweight and inexpensive solution for strength training, Tony Little's Easy Shaper offers the versatility of elastic resistance bands paired with a barbell. An elastic band fastens into a cleat on each end of the 1-pound bar; each band has a loop on its far end. Slip your feet through the loops to anchor them and lift the bar; for some exercises, you have the option of standing on the bar and using the loops as handles. You can easily adjust the bands to increase resistance.
Adjusting and Changing Resistance
Increase resistance by rotating the bar so the elastic bands wrap around its ends, shortening the bands. If you're standing on the bar and using the band loops as handles, wrap the bands around the bar beforehand to set the resistance.
Decrease resistance by rotating the bar, releasing the wraps of elastic band you had taken around the ends of the bar.
Change power cords by rotating the bar, then unwrapping it until the elastic bands dangle freely from the flexible cleats at each end of the bar. A small stopper on the end of each band keep you from drawing it straight through the cleats; pull the band sideways through the cleat's side opening instead. Slide the new band into place the same way, ensuring that its stopper is firmly seated in the cleat.
A Full-Body Workout
Work your glutes and thighs by doing squats: Place one foot in each elastic band's loop, shoulder the bar, and squat down as if you're sitting in a chair.
Exercise your back with bent-over rows: Place your feet in the loops, hinge forward from the waist with your back flat and knees slightly bent, and pull the bar up toward your chest.
Work your biceps with biceps curls: Stand with your feet in the loops, holding the bar in a palms-up grip. Curl the bar up to shoulder height, then lower it to the starting position.
Exercise your triceps with overhead triceps extensions: Stand in the loops, decrease the resistance to allow for extra stretch in the band, then hold it overhead. Bend your elbows, lowering the bar behind your head, then straighten them again.
Work your shoulders with upright rows: Stand in the loops, grip the bar near the middle with your thumbs touching or nearly so, then pull the bar straight up under your chin. Your elbows should wing up on either side of your head.
Put the Easy Shaper aside to do pushups, because your chest is the only muscle group it cannot work in isolation. Position yourself on your hands and toes, arms straight and body flat like a board, hands positioned slightly wider than your shoulders. Bend your arms, lowering your chest to elbow level, then straighten your arms to return to the starting position.