Build Dynamic Strength With Our Guide to Resistance Bands
Resistance bands are small and portable, but they can still give you an awesome workout. You can use them for stretching or to add resistance to your strength training workouts, no matter your fitness level.
“Bands are used in every level of training from physical therapy to sports performance,” says Cody Braun, CPT, Assistant Manager of Fitness at Openfit. “They’re made from all kinds of materials from rubber to fabric, and they are typically available in flat or round shapes.”
Resistance bands are small and easy to store and transport, making them a good option for working out in small spaces, like an apartment, dorm, or hotel room.
“They are also not as intimidating as dumbbells” if you’re just getting started with exercise, says Theresa Marko, PT, DPT, a board-certified orthopedic clinical specialist in physical therapy.
Keep reading for more reasons resistance bands are irresistible, along with the best ones to buy.
Benefits of Resistance Bands
They’ll deliver big strength potential in a small package.
A 2010 study found that working out with resistance bands can give you just as good a workout as using machines or free weights. They’re also considered a variable resistance tool, says Siobhan Milner, MS, an exercise physiologist and personal trainer.
“Bands provide a very different kind of muscle stimulation than free weights,” she says. “This means that the initial part of the movement is the most difficult, and the more you stretch the band, the easier the movement gets.”
In other words, you can use resistance bands to help push you through “sticking points” in your strength training workouts to perform exercises better and get stronger.
Plus, resistance bands force you to keep constant tension on your muscles during a movement, meaning you’ll have to recruit more stabilizer muscles to stay balanced and steady.
They’re versatile and effective.
Think of any strength training exercise that uses weight. Chances are pretty good you can do that same movement with a resistance band. Check out these resistance band exercises to get started. You can even use resistance bands to get in an intense ab workout.
But keep these tips in mind: “Focus on using good form, a full range of motion, and controlled speed of the exercise to maximize the benefits and reduce any risk of injury,” says Alexander Rothstein, MS, a personal trainer and instructor at the New York Institute of Technology.
Which Type of Resistance Band Should I Buy?
You can find many levels of resistance bands to match your strength, fitness level, and goals. Don’t have a huge budget to spend on home gym equipment? You’re in luck. You can pick up a set of resistance bands for less than $50 — and often under $20.
While you can find resistance bands in stores, you’ll likely find the most variety and options if you buy online. This round-up of the best resistance bands can help you narrow your choices.
Also known as power resistance bands, loop bands are “the most versatile option,” says Johnson. “These loops allow you to work on pretty much anything, whether you want to improve your fitness condition, build muscles, or your coordination.”
They come in various lengths and resistance levels — typically, the thicker the band, the heavier the resistance.
One to try: LEEKEY Resistance Band Set. Made of heavy-duty rubber, this set of four bands offers up to 125 pounds of resistance and comes with a carrying bag for easy transport.
Tube Resistance Bands with Handles
Want to work on your upper body or arms? Tube bands with handles fitted on the ends are your best bet. These bands are typically longer, so you can either anchor them — like in a door — or step on them to create extra tension.
One to try: Tribe Resistance Bands Set. The soft-grip handles in this set allow you to stack bands to create the level of resistance to meet your needs, all the way up to 105 pounds. It also comes with ankle straps, a door anchor, and a carrying bag.
Also known as hip circles, these are typically smaller but wider bands used for glute exercises, according to Braun. They can also add extra resistance to traditional squat and deadlift exercises.
Flat fabric bands “are much easier to hold in place by keeping enough tension to remove any slack in the band,” says Braun.
One to try: Recredo Nonslip Booty Bands. These colorful fabric resistance bands come in three sizes: light, medium, and heavy.
Light Therapy Bands
Light therapy bands are thin, long bands that are often used for physical therapy. They’re also useful for low-impact workouts like yoga and Pilates or to aid in stretching.
One to try: DMoose Fitness Therapy Bands. Sold individually, these five bands are color-coded and provide advanced levels of resistance.
Figure 8 Bands
Figure 8 bands are typically tubed resistance bands outfitted with soft handles on both ends. They’re easy to stretch, making them a perfect choice for lateral lower-body exercises or arm exercises that use dumbbells, like bicep curls.
One to try: iRibit Fitness Figure 8 Band Set. This set of three figure 8 bands come in three resistance levels up to 20 pounds and a convenient travel bag.