Exercise bands are incredibly useful for physical therapy and strength training.
But what if your home doesn’t have good ways to attach them to something sturdy? In this post, I share some ways you can get creative and affix exercise bands to anchors that you’ve got around your house or apartment.
Types of exercise bands
There are four common types of exercise bands. From left to right in the photo below:
- Small bands, usually lightweight. They’re sold in sets and are usually color-coded by resistance level.
- As-long-as-you-need-them bands that come in rolls and can be cut to length. Usually you only see these in physical therapy offices since you need to purchase an entire roll at a time.
- Large, higher-resistance bands. These are often used to add resistance to bodyweight squats or push-ups, or to assist in doing pull-ups.
- Tube bands, which are color-coded by resistance level and have handles or carabiners at each end. These are often sold in sets with various accessories, such as ankle straps.
In my experience, the tube bands are the least versatile and along with the long-as-you-need-them bands they’re the quickest to wear out.
Most of the ways of affixing exercise bands to anchors will work for any of these bands. That said, stronger bands will need to be attached to stronger anchors.
A quick note on safety
Don’t do anything unsafe. If you aren’t sure whether you’ve attached a band securely, don’t rely on it.
There are a few ways you might get hurt if you attach a band insecurely or use a band that’s no longer fit for purpose:
- The anchor might suddenly shift or break. If it breaks, then you’ll have the other end of the band and whatever it’s still attached to flying at you faster than you can react. If the anchor shifts, then you risk falling or over-extending yourself.
- The band might break. In this case, you also risk falling or over-extending yourself in response to the sudden loss of resistance.
- The anchor might tip and fall on you. Never use bookcases, bureaus, stationary bikes (from the side), or other things that are tall, narrow and liable to fall.
Additionally, if you lose your balance while doing a band exercise, the band might pull you in an unexpected direction and make you fall.
Always test a band to make sure it’s secure before using it for exercise.
Ways to affix exercise bands at home: down low
Couch or table
One obvious anchor is the leg of a couch or table. You can simply wrap the band around the leg by looping the band around the leg and through itself (aka a cow hitch or lark’s hitch).
I do not recommend this method unless you have a very heavy piece of furniture or it’s on carpet. On laminate floor like I have, even a relatively heavy couch starts to slide when I pull on the band with moderate force.
Under a door
A more secure method is to close a door over the band with the band looped through something on the other side.
For example, here I’ve put the band around a chair leg and closed the door over the band. From the other side of the door I can pull on the band as hard as I want.
Make sure that you’re pulling in the direction the door closes, otherwise the door might suddenly swing open. You should not be able to see the hinges when you’re on the correct side of the door.
Using a broom in a doorway
If you can’t use the space on the side of the door without hinges, you can put a broom or other sturdy stick on the floor and hook your band around that. Just make sure the broom doesn’t slide around when you’re pulling on the band.
If you have a heavy-enough dumbbell (I’d say at least 25lbs) you can try attaching the band to the dumbbell and putting the dumbbell on a high-friction surface like a yoga mat or carpet.
Pull in the same direction the handle points, not perpendicular to the handle.
You might need to pull down on a band. In that case, a door or pull-up bar is your best option.
Over a doorframe
You’ll need something that you can hook the band on the back side of the door. I’ve used a piece of grosgrain ribbon, which is quite strong, with a knot or object tied onto the ribbon (I used a piece of rubber tube, but you could also tie a dish towel or old t-shirt in a knot). The pictures explain it better. Some band sets come with stoppers like this, so you won’t need to make your own: (1) large band option, (2) tube band + small band option.
You can attach the band directly to the ribbon, but I’ve found that a carabiner is helpful and lets you change bands more conveniently.
Doorway pull-up bar
You can also use a cheap doorway pull-up bar. You can find these on Craigslist or Facebook Marketplace for $20 or so. Or you can buy a new one for just a little more.
If you need the band at about waist height, a doorknob can work well, but you’ll need to brace the door so it doesn’t move.
You’ll need either two door stops to prevent the door from swinging in either direction or one of these door stops that slides under the edge of the door.
Alternately, you could use a closed door. If you close the door on the band, that causes the rubber to wear down faster. If you use some ribbon or cord around the door handle your exercise bands will last longer. Again, make sure you’re pulling only in the direction that the door closes (you shouldn’t be able to see the hinges).
Sometimes you need to position the band at another height, like knee-high, or you need to change its height. In this case the best solution I’ve found is to use a clamp on the door frame or an exposed piece of wood (e.g. in an unfinished garage or basement).
You’ll want to make sure that you don’t clamp down so hard that you dent the wood, but hard enough that pulling on the band won’t move the clamp. I’ve been able to safely use the heaviest bands I own with this arrangement.
Additionally, many clamps come with clamp pads that prevent them from denting the wood. These pads are essential, though you could make some with a couple scraps of thick cardboard. However, the pads will often leave a residue or stain, especially on white paint. My solution to this was to cover the pads in painter’s tape, which prevented the clamps from staining my door frames as long as I removed the clamps when I was done using them for the day.
Hopefully one of these tips will help you make the most of exercise bands in your home. Again, be careful and make sure that whatever you attach the bands to nothing will break and fly toward you or fall on you.
Any other suggestions? Let us know in the comments.