Sometimes in a workout, your bodyweight is too much or it isn’t enough.
Whether it’s pull-ups, dips, or some other form of calisthenics, there are times when you need to build up to moving your own weight and other times when you need to add a degree of difficulty.
Enter resistance bands.
Best Resistance Bands Quick List
- Serious Steel Bands
- Fit Simplify Resistance Loop Exercise Bands
- INTEY Resistance Bands
- Liveup SPORTS Resistance Bands
- Fitness Insanity Resistance Band Set
Resistance bands are like escalators for your personal development and strength progressions.
You can go from assisted movements to bodyweight movements to additional resistance in no time at all!
With just your body and resistance bands–along with a handful of bars–your physique can reach new levels and you can look like an absolute beast.
In this article, we’ll be going over everything resistance band, from what they are to various types to the benefits to considerations before buying.
After that, we’ll dive into how to choose a level that’s right for you, give you a sample workout based on resistance bands, and review the top bands available in the market.
Let’s talk about some bands! (Resistance bands, of course…)
What Are Resistance Bands?
Simply put, they are bands that either provide resistance or assistance.
Also known as “exercise bands,” resistance bands are normally used in physical therapy to recover strength.
They’re made out of a natural rubber latex (which may cause allergic reactions). (Interesting aside: Back in the twentieth century, resistance bands were actually made out of surgical tubing and were solely used for rehabilitation.)
Usually, resistance bands are par for the course for most gyms. No doubt you’ve seen some before.
They’re typically color-coordinated to convey the amount of resistance you’ll be getting with a particular band. For example, a red band could provide five pounds’ worth of resistance, while a black band could offer 20 pounds.
Each band brand (say that five times’ fast) has its own order of things, so make sure to pay attention to what you’re purchasing if you’re in the market for resistance bands.
Types of Resistance Bands
It might not seem like a complicated piece of equipment (and, truthfully, it isn’t). But that doesn’t mean there can’t be different kinds of resistance bands.
Here are the various types:
- Therapy band: These are bands without handles; mainly used for rehab.
- Compact resistance band: These have plastic handles attached to the ends of the band; used for both upper and lower body training.
- Fit loop band: A continuous flat loop band (looks like a circle); utilized for lower body assistance and resistance.
- Figure-8 band: Short bands in the shape of a figure 8, equipped with two handles; this one is for upper body training.
- Ring resistance band: Circular band with two soft handles; also used for lower body training.
- Lateral resistance band: Bands with two Velcro ankle cuffs; once again, mainly for lower body.
There are also some well-known brands that have a form of resistance band. For example, there’s TRX suspension training, which uses bands that suspend you in the air.
While these aren’t technically “resistance bands,” they’re still bands used to promote fitness and health.
They also come in different sizes, in both length and width. Most are around a half inch to an inch in width and a foot (and some change) in length.
Of course, there’s variation in everything, and resistance bands aren’t an exception.
Benefits of Resistance Bands
These bad boys do more than just rehabilitate you from an injury. In fact, they can help you from getting injured.
Here are the main advantages of using resistance bands in your fitness routine:
- They’re cost-effective: Perfectly situated between “cheap” and “moderate,” these practical bands are solid purchases for people with tight budgets. Even if you don’t, the cost of resistance bands doesn’t come even close to what you get out of them. They usually go for somewhere in the five to twenty dollar range.
- Allows for any and all fitness levels: The resistance bands’ claim to fame; whether you can’t do a pull-up, you can, or you need an extra challenge, these bands can loop any which way to accomplish your exercise goals. They can relieve some of the load if you need assistance or provide resistance when you’ve mastered the bodyweight version.
- You can modify regular exercises: All of your favorites are in play when using resistance bands, calisthenics specifically. Push-ups, pull-ups, squats, dips, chest press, bodyweight rows…resistance bands can modify and even enhance your experience with these bodyweight movements.
- You get a full body workout: Those exercises I listed in the previous point? Yep, that looks like a full body workout to us. You can tackle any muscle group you desire with simply your body and resistance bands. (Keep reading for our bonus resistance band workout, which is a full body workout.)
- Exercise anywhere, anytime: Just like straight-up calisthenics, using resistance bands allows for you to workout whenever and wherever you damn well please. On travel, sick at home, after midnight, out in the park. The opportunities are endless (and the excuses are gone).
- Safety first: Seeing as they’re regularly used for physical therapy, it only makes sense that resistance bands are built for support and sustainability. If you get hurt using them, you must be trying really, really hard to get injured. As long as you use them appropriately, you should have a long, healthy lifting career.
Resistance bands are versatile pieces of equipment, with the benefit of making you a fit, healthy person with little risk. These benefits showcase this.
Considerations Before Buying
If you’re thinking of buying one resistance band–or a whole set of ‘em–there are some things you’ll want to check out and research before pulling the trigger.
You can get a great workout from resistance bands, but this is only possible if you get the right ones for your situation and fitness level.
Here are the qualities you’ll want to be on the lookout for:
The main thing about a resistance band’s material is the durability: What material will not break under extreme pressure?
It will have to be able to withstand your bodyweight, so you want sturdy rubber latex as your top choice. (If you’re allergic to latex, then an alternative rubber material will be your best bet.)
This is a tough one because you’ll want different lengths for different movements. The trick–if you’re just going to get one type of resistance band–is to go with a long band and fold it on itself for when you need it to be shorter.
In terms of actual numbers, regular bands used for strength training and physical therapy measure out to be 10 to 15 inches in length. This is a safe zone to select from. If you want to go longer, you can absolutely do that, but it isn’t necessary.
For resistance level, it depends on your fitness level and whether or not you’ll primarily use it for assistance or resistance.
Of course, you can get a pack of resistance bands, which will come in varying resistance levels (and will most likely be color coordinated).
However, if you aren’t down with buying an entire set, then it’s best to test out some resistance bands, either in your gym or if you know anybody who has a set.
You’ll be able to gauge your level and how much resistance you’ll want.
Here’s a rough chart that can help you identify which one you’re after (this will also help with the next section):
- Light: 5-25 pounds
- Medium: 10-35 pounds
- Heavy: 30-50 pounds
- Extra Heavy: 65-85 pounds
Also, as a rule of thumb, the lighter colors are generally the lighter resistance.
A resistance band that’s yellow or light green might be light or medium resistance, while a black or red or dark blue band might be heavy or extra heavy.
How To Choose Your Level
It might seem intuitive, but we’ll mention it anyways. Your level will be determined by your current physical abilities.
Let’s take pull-ups, for example. If you’re far from achieving your first unassisted pull-up–or, conversely, you knock ‘em out with ease and wish you had much more weight to pull up–go with extra heavy, or a band that supports/adds 65 to 85 pounds.
Then, when you are a little closer or aren’t that hard-core, heavy (30 to 50 pounds) is your best bet.
In truth, most humans are within the light-to-medium range of resistance bands (unless you’re an animal or going through PT).
Having five to 35 fewer pounds on a pull-up makes a world of difference; on the other hand, an extra five to 35 pounds on your pull-up will make you a world lifter.
Choosing your level of resistance is really a trial-and-error situation. Test them out and find your sweet spot.
Resistance Band Workout
Here’s our ultimate resistance band workout. It’s a full body routine, one that can be performed two to three times per week.
- Duck Walks: 3 sets x 30 reps (15 per leg)
- Resisted squats: 3 sets x 15 reps
- Assisted or resisted pull-ups: 3 sets x 10-15 reps
- Resisted push-ups (decline or regular): 3 sets x 10-15 reps
- Assisted or resisted triceps dips: 2 sets x failure
- Resistance band hip thrusts: 2 sets x 15-20 reps
- Resistance band knee raises: 2 sets x 10-15 reps
Notes: For the duck walks, place the resistance band around your ankles, get in athletic stance, and walk forward while keeping constant tension with the band.
(That means you’re stance will be stretching out the band to begin with.) Walk straight forward.
For the squats, place the band beneath your feet and wrap it around the top of your thighs, above the knee.
It might be best to do squat pulses at the bottom or putting it around your shoulders instead to get tension at the top of the movement.
For resisted pull-ups, attach the band to somewhere near or on the floor and drape the other end over your shoulders, around your neck.
This should provide a tougher pull to the top. For assisted, do the opposite: Secure the band above you, on the bar, step onto the other end of the band, and voila, you weigh less!
For resisted push-ups, put the band around your upper body so that it stretches across the top of your back.
Hold the other end with your hands and get into push-up position. Every time you push up, it should be more difficult at the top than a traditional push-up due to the resistance of the band.
For the dips, secure both ends around the dip bars. Get underneath it so that the expanse rests on your shoulders.
It should be taught at the top and more difficult than regular dips. If you need assistance, find a way to attach it as you did for your pull-ups.
For the hip thrusts, place the resistance band either around your shins or around your thighs above your knees. Perform hip thrusts like you normally would, but move your knees outward at the top of the motion to feel the tension in the resistance band. This will externally rotate your inner thighs as you rise up.
Lastly, for resisted knee raises, secure the band to a low spot or the floor. Loop the band or the handles on your feet.
Every time you do a knee raise–either hanging or your arms are resting on pads and your body’s suspended–you should be getting resistance from the band.
Let us know how the workout works for you!
Top Resistance Bands Reviewed
Fit Simplify Resistance Loop Exercise Bands
First up on our list is actually a set of five resistance bands from the bros over at Fit Simplify.
These loop exercise bands are simply made and easy to implement into your workouts. They have five different levels, ranging from X-Light (light green) to X-Heavy (black).
It also includes an instruction guide, a carry bag, and e-book, and online workout videos to get you set up for fitness success.
The best part? Extremely affordable.
If you’re looking for a range of quality resistance bands, look no further than the Fit Simplify Resistance Loop Exercise Bands.
INTEY Pull-up Assist Band Exercise Resistance Bands
Next, we have resistance bands from the company INTEY. These heavy-duty bands can do just about anything and everything to improve your training experience.
For starters, they’re thick. The biggest band–1.7 inches in width–should be more than enough to help you reach that first unassisted pull-up.
Also, these loop bands come in a set of four, and they’re all made from 100 percent natural latex, which allows for long-range elasticity, anticorrosion, and anti-snap.
Add in a handy cinch bag and a user manual, and you’re ready for some serious resistance band strength training.
You can’t go wrong with the INTEY Pull-up Assist Exercise Resistance Bands.
Liveup SPORTS Resistance Bands
If you’re looking for something less run-of-the-mill, you can be done searching. The resistance bands from Liveup SPORTS have got you covered.
Liveup SPORTS provides a band that’s made out of latex tubing, not just strands. Not only that, they have two foam handles, instead of being a continuous loop, for solid gripping and comfort.
They come in four different levels of resistance and are all four feet in length. Or, you can opt for the 4-in-1 set, in which you get the resistance band, a foam hand grip, soft dumbbells, and a jump rope.
The resistance band also has a slider in the middle of it for separation; this means you can use the foam handles and pull the middle of the band in on itself, for solid placement on your shoulders or under your feet.
These bad boys are something else. For serious fitness freaks, we’d highly recommend the Liveup SPORTS resistance bands.
Serious Steel Assisted Pull-Up Band, Resistance & Stretch Band
Serious Steel Fitness is here to seriously set you up for a great workout and develop a tremendous physique.
You can achieve all of this with their pull-up, resistance, and stretch band.
These bands are more on the pricey side, and with good reason; the durability and quality of the materials allow for you to do more than just what we’ve mentioned.
You can also use them for banded barbell training, which lets you experience variable tension training. This set of four bands gives you both low assistance/resistance (5-35 pounds) to high assistance/resistance (50-120 pounds).
They range from a quarter of an inch to 1.75 inches in width, providing you with a wide array of resistance options.
Ideal for progressive training, Serious Steel Fitness’s resistance bands are a worthy purchase and will help you develop your body well into the future.
Fitness Insanity Resistance Band Set
To round out our list of top resistance band brands, we have a band set from Fitness Insanity.
While this article has given you more information on resistance bands than you’d ever need to know, these bands will give you more than you ever knew you needed.
This purchase has everything: Five 48-inch long stackable exercise bands; a waterproof carrying case; door anchor attachments (for those exercises we mentioned earlier, where the bands are secured to the floor); ankle straps; and an exercise guide e-book.
With a 100 percent lifetime guarantee, these bands have been well thought out; they have metal carabiners, reinforced links, and latex tubes to keep your workouts going strong and without a hitch.
For resistance bands that last a lifetime and will get you in shape in no time, go for the Fitness Insanity resistance band set.
By now you could be considered a quasi-expert on resistance bands. Whether you wanted to be or not is up to you, but here you are. You know of the benefits, the kinds, and how to choose your level. You know what to look for when purchasing your own and have inside knowledge on the top resistance bands out there. Pair this with our resistance band workout, and you’ve got it made.
Resistance bands are much more than a physical therapy tool; they can be your entire fitness routine if you so choose. Try them out for yourself and you’ll see why they aren’t simply something for people going through rehab–they can provide a killer workout, too!