The best resistance bands are a space-saving and affordable fitness essential that can help level up your home workouts and up your strength training program.
Sure, resistance training is great at the gym on weights machines or at home with a set of free weights or the best adjustable dumbbells (opens in new tab), but they have a big footprint and are expensive to buy.
Besides, most exercises you can do with dumbbells and barbells you can do with resistance bands, but for a fraction of the cost and taking up way less space, says personal trainer Josh Peters.
What the expert says
“The beauty of resistance bands is that they can be purchased in a variety of different strengths – this means that not only can you slowly add more challenge to rehab movements over time, but the movements can be performed in the gym, home or at an outdoor venue,” says Josh Peters, Personal Trainer at SIX3NINE (opens in new tab) gym
Plus they are incredibly lightweight and portable too, meaning you can throw them in your suitcase when you go on vacation or even for a weekend away with friends.
Peters says another benefit of resistance bands is that you can adjust your training to target your muscles in the most effective way.
He says: “As the length of the band increases, so does the amount of resistance – so you can alter the ‘strength curve’ of certain movements. This means our muscles are being challenged at different parts of the exercise.”
Choosing the best resistance bands can be a little overwhelming when there are so many on the market, so we’ve done the hard work for you and picked our edit to suit all needs and budgets. And if you’re building up your home gym, then don’t miss our other deal guides too, including our one about the best rowing machines (opens in new tab).
Best resistance bands
These latex bands are a bright and colorful way to make your workout more challenging.
The short loops are perfect for arm and glute movements and the five different tension ranges are great for the whole family, or to use for different workout moves. The bands are clearly marked with which tension they are, so you’ll never exercise with the wrong one, plus they also come with a small booklet for different exercises that you can perform with them.
Some latex bands can pinch the skin and feel flimsy, but this smooth design means that you shouldn’t be able to feel them as you exercise. The bands come in a small black bag, which should make them great for packing away when you’ve finished using them, or if you want to take on holiday with you. Their budget price also means you won’t be spending a fortune when adding to your home gym.
These small loop resistance bands are designed to be lightweight but durable.
This should make them a great choice for leg and glute workouts as well as small arm exercises. They’re available in four different sizes – yellow is light resistance, green is medium resistance, blue is heavy resistance and black is extra-heavy resistance.
You also have a choice on how you can buy them – either as a single band, as a set of 4 with the different resistances or as a set of 10, where they’re all the same resistance. In the mid range of affordability, some users have stated that the bands don’t feel very durable, especially when performing intense moves. Meanwhile, they can also apparently unravel on the skin, which would make them uncomfortable to use for some exercises.
These non loop resistance bands are available in three different colors and tensions – starting at 3lbs and going up to 4.6lbs.
This makes them perfect for beginners or for those who want to add a small amount of tension to their exercises. The 150cm long bands come as a set, helping you gradually increase the weight as you get fitter. Perfect for toning and stretching they can also be used in pilates or as part of a yoga class.
Theraband are a well respected brand in the fitness world, so you can expect durable bands that will last for years. Made from a natural rubber latex, the smoothness of the bands means that they shouldn’t rub on skin as you use them to workout. At just over $20 for three bands, these bands are not only lightweight and easy to store, they’re also affordable too.
If you want to buy numerous resistance bands in a bundle this set could be just the thing.
It’s made up of five longer bands with varying resistance, five smaller looped bands and accessories such as ankle straps, handles and door anchors. In fact, this bundle has everything you need for a full-body workout. Light and durable, these resistance bands can also be packed away in the black case that comes with them.
The colored longer resistance bands start with a 10lb yellow band and go up to a 50lbs red band. Meanwhile, the smaller loop bands also differ in weight – ranging from light to XX heavy. The longer bands attach to the non-slip handle and ankle straps and can be paired together to create more resistance. At just over $25 they are a very affordable way to add to your home gym.
If you’ve had enough of small flimsy bands breaking on you, then these heavy duty bands could be exactly what you’re looking for.
Made with high quality latex, the thick bands are durable and shouldn’t snap easily. The long loops are great for overhead arm exercises and for making leg and glute exercises such as overhead squats harder.
The five bands are both sold separately and as part of a set, with the resistance starting at just 2lbs and going up to 200lbs. This would make them perfect for anyone who wants to increase the weight they’re working with over time. The 41″ bands are color–coded for their different resistance, helping you know exactly which one to pick up when performing a varied workout. For a set of four the bands cost just over $30, so they’re also an affordable option.
As the name suggests, this isn’t just a resistance band, but bands that attach to a bow and give you a full body workout.
The four resistance bands, which have different resistances and colors to indicate their weights, easily clip on to the bow and can be used for arm, leg and glute exercises. The bow, which comes in 2 different weights, can also be used on its own as a weightlifting bar.
The two bars come in original or lite and they also have travel versions. They’re designed to be easy to dismantle and small enough to be popped in a suitcase, along with the bands. From 10lbs to 100lbs the 11 bands have a great variety in resistance, which should make them perfect for weightlifters and gym newbies. Meanwhile, up to four bands can be used together to create more resistance for particular moves.
These longer bands come with handles, ankle straps and even door anchors, which means that you can adapt them for different exercises.
The anti-snap bands come in packs of five, six or seven, dependent on the weight. With loops on the end they can easily attach the accessories by clipping them on. With the handles attached you can perform full body exercises, while the ankle straps allow you to adapt the bands for glute moves.
All the bands have the brand’s Snap Guard inner safety cord, making them safe if they do snap when you’re exercising. The variety in resistance means you can easily and quickly increase the resistance to match your exercise. Meanwhile, the three options mean that they’re suitable for anyone from beginners to those who are more experienced. Starting at just under $50 and going up to just over $80, these bands are more expensive than your traditional resistance band. However, they’re a worthy investment if you’re going to use them as part of your new home gym.
Some bands can pinch on the skin, but these bands are made from Thermoplastic rubber, a non latex material that’s designed to be super soft on the skin.
The band either comes in the traditional loop form or in 25 or 50 yard rolls, so you cut off different lengths for different exercises. The bands also come in different tension ranges from extra light for beginners to extra extra heavy for more experienced weight lifters.
Designed to be incredibly light, these rolls or looks should be able to be stored easily. To use the rolls, you simply snip your desired length off and pack it in a case for exercise on the go. The rolls are also great for physiotherapists who might want to show different patients the right exercises for rehabilitation. These bands are relatively cheap and can be bought as singles or as a set of four.
These resistance bands are longer and thicker and framed in a loop design, which should make them great for more robust movements and hanging from other pieces of equipment.
Available in five different tensions, represented by their colors, the bands get thicker the heavier they are. All bought separately, the lightest one is set at an affordable price, but the heavier the band, the more expensive they get – so it could get costly if you were looking for different tensions for multiple exercises.
Made with a durable thick rubber material, these bands shouldn’t snap easily, but they could dig or rub into your hands and legs after repetitive use. Perfect for multiple exercises – including leg stretches to weight training – they’re an alternative to traditional weights, which could take up more room. These bands can be tucked away in a drawer or cupboard and even be taken away with you – for a workout on the go.
• Read our full TRX Strength Bands review (opens in new tab)
How to choose the best resistance band for you
There are so many resistance bands available now, and they come in a variety of price points, stretchiness and composition, which can be a bit confusing. As well as packing down to almost nothing, the best resistance bands usually come with a travel bag so that you can keep them tidy when you’re on the move. It’s also worth knowing that there are several styles of bands, and that the different styles have slightly different uses, being more suited to certain types of exercise.
Small looped bands, also known as mini bands, are good for exercises with a short range of movement, or exercises where you are not extending your joints significantly, such as crab walks. You can also use them to make static holds harder, for example, by placing one around your ankles and resisting against it while holding a plank, or positioning the band above your knees during single leg lifts.
Long bands come in several different types. They may be a flat piece of thin rubber that looks almost like a ribbon, or they may be looped and thick or thin. The thinner bands, looped or not, are ideal for arm exercises, such as tricep curls or pulldowns (if looped from an overhead bar). You can also use them to add resistance to exercises like deadlifts (opens in new tab), by looping them over the barbell and anchoring them to the floor by standing on them.
The thicker, long-looped bands are particularly helpful if you are trying to achieve exercises like pull-ups or chin-ups, as you can loop them over the overhead bar and then stand in the loop, which takes some of your bodyweight and makes the exercise easier. As you get stronger you can use thinner and thinner bands until eventually you won’t need them at all.
Your resistance bands can either be used to create a workout on their own or to add extra resistance or assistance to your exercise routine. If you’re not sure what you need, then our guide to the latest deals should allow you to make the right decision for your needs.
Also, keep in mind this advice from personal trainer Josh Peters who told Live Science that “When choosing a strength of the band, it is always sensible to buy a variety of bands ranging from easy to hard. When you first introduce a band to your workout, make sure you start with the easiest one and look to progress over time. Adding a band to an exercise can sometimes make it feel unusual and it may take a few sessions to get used to how it feels.”
The benefits of using the best resistance bands
Using resistance bands instead of traditional weights can save you money and space, and allow you to work out from home, cutting out the cost of a gym membership. If you’re not sure where to start, why not try these simple resistance bands leg workout ideas or learn more about the benefits of resistance bands.
One of the great things about resistance bands is that they challenge you through the entire range of movement of an exercise. Peters explained, “By adding a band to a traditional movement, you can alter how hard your muscles are being challenged in certain positions. For example, in a traditional push-up — after you pass halfway up the movement starts to become easier. By adding a band, you can make the exercise harder as you pass halfway altering the traditional strength curve.”
You can also use resistance bands to help you stretch after a workout, which can prevent stiffness and discomfort. Static stretching (where you hold stretches for 30 seconds or more) can reduce the efficiency of your muscles when exercising and may make you more prone to injury if done before a workout, as this 2014 Current Sports Medicine (opens in new tab) study found; so save any long stretches for your cool down.
If you are new to working out, or have had a long break, you could book a personal trainer to show you how to use resistance bands effectively. However, the best resistance bands should come with an instruction booklet to help you carry out the movements in each exercise with correct form.
In the long-term, resistance bands should save you money, as they are cheaper to buy than bulkier equipment like dumbbells and barbells. A set of bands is likely to cost something like $10 to $30, compared to sets of dumbbells, or barbells and weight plates, which can cost hundreds, if not thousands of dollars to get high quality versions. Using resistance bands to stretch and workout effectively, with the correct form, can also help prevent injury, thus avoiding expensive medical bills too!
This article was updated on March 24, 2022, by Live Science contributor Rosee Woodland.
This article is for informational purposes only, and is not meant to offer medical advice.
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