With a cord, a knot and a door, you can create a personalized gym designed to work on your weaknesses in ways a commercial gym just can't do.
Bungee cords, available by the foot in sporting goods stores, allow you to create sports-specific exercises, as well as movements to build up strength in weak ranges of motion that may be holding you back in your sport.
The cords can even allow you to run for miles while watching television in your living room, and bungee running is much more versatile than a treadmill.
First, decide which strength cord you need. For strengthening a weak range of motion, use a lightweight cord. For running, or for squats, choose a heavier cord. But don't go all macho and immediately pick the heaviest one.
Instead, unroll about a dozen feet of the stuff and simulate the movement of the exercise for which you intend to use it. If you can't stretch the cord beyond five reps, go to a lighter one. You will need at least 20 feet of cord.
To create the inexpensive, portable and private running machine, you will need a tennis ball, a leg from a pair of pantyhose and a strong belt. Tie each end of the cord into a loop about 10 inches long, using a double knot. Next, put the tennis ball into the toe of the pantyhose leg and make a knot above it to hold the ball in place. Make a loop in the other end of the leg about two inches long. Thread the bungee cord through that loop and hang the leg from the middle of the doubled cord. Open your front door and close it with the ball on the other side, making sure the door is securely latched. Next, thread the belt through both loops on the ends of the bungee cord, and fasten the belt around your waist.
Walk out until the cord is slightly stretched, and you feel tension in your mid-section. Begin to run. Stretching the cord out more will add resistance that works your core and lower body.
Stoop down and arrange the cord so you are holding the end loops and have a knee-high length under the middle of each foot. Slowly stand up. To increase resistance, pull more cord underfoot so the length you are holding is shortened. Lengthen the cord if you want to make it easier. Next, thread the loop of the stocking leg through the cord and put the ball in the top of the door. Hold each side of the cord at head height and stoop down. Hold the cord higher or lower to increase or decrease resistance. Do 10 reps of each exercise, with a goal of five sets.
Adductors and Abductors (muscles on the inside and outside of the thigh)
Put the ball in the bottom of the door. Place one foot inside one bungee loop, and hold the other side of the cord so that you have a 10-foot length between you and the door. Walk out until you are stretching the cord tight. Then turn sideways, and take a wide step with your free foot. Pull your looped foot out towards the free foot; working the inside of your thigh, that is one rep. Next, turn to face the other direction, and stretch the looped foot away from the door, working the outside of your thigh.
Arms, Shoulders and Upper Back
Put the ball in the top of the door, grab the cord and pull down, using one arm, both arms, or holding the loops against your stomach and bending over to work your abs. After some time, it becomes easy to figure out exercises that work the parts of your body that need it most.
The best thing about this portable gym is that it can be tucked into a little bag and taken anywhere; so you can get a workout while in a hotel room on a business trip or on vacation.