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Resistance bands offer a portable alternative to resistance and weight training. When you don’t have the time or easy access to the gym, a quality set of resistance bands can offer a great workout and a nice change of pace. Lots of people use resistance bands regularly as part of their exercise routine.
There is some variation between the types and styles of resistance bands that you’ll need to know before making a purchase. If you’re unsure of where to start, you’ve come to the right place.
At BestReviews, we provide you with the unbiased reviews you need to make an informed purchasing decision. We talk to experts and sift through consumer reviews so you don’t have to. Below, you’ll find a shopping guide to help you narrow down what kind of resistance bands would be right for you. When you’re done reading, don’t forget to check out our top five resistance band picks at the top of this page.
Perhaps you’re unsure if a new set of resistance bands would offer the types of benefits you desire. Here are just a few reasons why an exerciser might like to own a set of resistance bands.
Resistance bands require coordination to hold them steady. They access the small support muscles that are often neglected in traditional weight training.
Whether you use a lighter resistance band or change the position of the band, you can easily get a workout that is hard enough to challenge your muscles without damaging them.
As far as exercise equipment goes, resistance bands are an inexpensive option, and they don’t require much storage space. You can store them in a drawer or at the bottom of a closet.
They’re so lightweight and small that you can easily fit them in a carry on or travel bag. If you find yourself on the road and need a quick way to squeeze in some exercise, resistance bands are a great solution.
Unlike stationary weight machines that only have one or two exercise options, resistance bands can be used in countless ways. You can target hard-to-reach muscle groups and provide resistance in both directions, both on the push and release.
Resistance bands can reach almost any muscle group once you’ve figured out how to use them correctly.
Use your bands correctly. Excessive shortening for more resistance is not safe, nor is using resistance bands for pull-ups when they are not designed for that function. Incorrect usage can end in breakage of the band and/or injury to the user.
This type of resistance band works well for almost any exercise, including those that focus on the upper body, arms, and lower body. The latex tubes have built-in plastic handles, and some include webbing in the handle design. You can find them in different thicknesses that offer more or less resistance.
These tube bands have a plastic or metal clip that allows you to change out the handles. They come in different lengths and thicknesses. Clip tube resistance bands offer the most versatility as far as the kinds of exercises that can be performed.
Figure eight resistance bands, also called bow tie resistance bands, are shaped like an eight and have a handle on both loops with a third handle in the middle. They are usually 20 inches long and work best for upper-body and arm exercises.
To perform bicep curls, stand on a resistance band with both feet. (Use one foot if two feet is too hard.) Holding a handle in each hand, pull toward your biceps. Be sure to keep your elbows tucked close to your body.
As the name suggests, this type of resistance band is a circle with two handles across from each other. They measure one foot in diameter and are primarily used for the lower body.
Lateral resistance bands feature a tube band with an ankle cuff on either end. They are about one foot long and are used on the lower body.
These thick resistance bands are shaped in a loop and are long and strong enough to help hold your body weight while doing pull-ups. They are best used in a gym or with a pull-up bar apparatus that has built-in anchor points.
Flat resistance bands come in two subtypes: therapy bands and fit loop bands. Therapy bands are gripped with the hands, as there are no handles. They vary in length and are most commonly used for rehabilitation exercises. Fit loop bands form a long, continuous loop. Lower-body exercises featuring the legs, hips, and buttocks work best for this type of resistance band.
To prevent a resistance band from breaking, never stretch it more than two times its original length, and don’t store your resistance bands in extreme hot or cold temperatures.
Resistance bands can be bought singularly or as a set.
When you’re first beginning, it’s best to purchase a set of bands, as you won’t know how much resistance you’ll need, and you’ll be able to perform exercises that work for the whole body.
Once you’ve used your set for a while, you may find that you need a specialized resistance band like a figure eight. At that time, you could easily purchase a specialized band separately.
Wear shoes when you use resistance bands. Shoes prevent the bands from slipping and protect the feet from the stretch of the rubber.
A resistance band’s tension level depends on the thickness and length of the band. For the most effective workout, you should have bands at various levels.
Light tension bands are thin and provide about three pounds of resistance, though this will depend on the brand and model. They work best for rehabilitation and those with limited strength and flexibility. Beginners and those who are untrained may also want to utilize light tension bands.
Medium tension bands can vary from six to 13 pounds of resistance. Some beginners with good coordination will be fine starting at this level. Those of average fitness will feel comfortable here as well.
Heavy tension bands are thick bands that provide as much as 19 pounds of resistance. This may not sound like much, but resistance bands work differently than hand weights. Those who are already active and fit will probably be able to start at this level.
Very heavy tension bands provide the toughest level of resistance at around 23 pounds. You shouldn’t use this type of band unless you have some experience or have done weight training before.
Place anchors carefully. Resistance bands that come loose or escape anchors have been known to snap users. They can cause serious injury to the eyes or other vulnerable areas.
Having the right accessories can up the value of your resistance bands tremendously. They give you more ways to use your bands and target hard-to-access muscle groups.
These anchors have a loop through which you put the resistance band. At one end of the loop is a stopper that you shut on the opposite side of the door. You can then use the door as a focal point for your exercises. Be sure the door is securely shut (and preferably locked) to prevent accidents.
Ankle cuffs adhere to the ankles with Velcro, providing a clip point for clip tube bands.
You can wrap resistance bands around a pole or chair to perform some exercises. A door also provides a good anchor point from which to do exercises.
Handles come in different sizes, shapes, and hardnesses. You should check for comfort, as some are softer than others. The shape can determine the type of exercises you can do. For example, a bar handle lets you do lat pull-downs that can’t be performed with small, one-hand handles.
Wall mounts are a permanent attachment that must be screwed into the wall. They give you a fixed position at which you can attach your resistance bands.
One of the benefits of resistance bands is their ease of portability. A simple drawstring storage bag can be used to keep all your bands together and packs easily for travel.
When you first start using resistance bands, do exercises slowly until you become accustomed to the movement. You’ll save yourself from injury and unwanted muscle pain.
For around $25, you can find a set of flat resistance bands with a storage bag, some clip tube sets, and solo bands. Sets in this price range work well for beginners, as they don’t usually have a wide range of resistance options
For $25 to $75, you can buy clip tube resistance bands with several handle styles as well as fit loop bands that can be used for pull-up assistance. You’ll also see sets that include a wider variety of resistance levels in this price range.
For over $75, you’ll find professional-grade bands intended for heavy use with pull-up assistance and full-body workouts. Sets may come with as many as 30 accessories or more. They also come with an increasing number of anchors and handles for versatility.
Q. What are resistance bands made of?
A. Resistance bands are most often made of latex rubber. The rubber offers good resistance and easily maintains its shape. Some bands are made using a technique called latex bonding wherein the layers of rubber are heated, then glued together. This forms a strong bond that retains shape and flexibility.
Q. What do the different colors of resistance bands mean?
A. Different manufacturers may have different color-coding systems, but all bands of a certain resistance level within that manufacturer’s line will be the same color. Color is an easy way to know which band you need for different exercises.
Q. How do you use pull-up assist resistance bands?
A. These long loop bands must be anchored between two points under a pull-up bar. Once anchored, you place either your feet or knees on the band, and it lifts some of your body weight for you. Resistance bands provide a great solution for working your way up to doing full pull-ups.
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At BestReviews, we purchase every product we review with our own funds. We never accept anything from product manufacturers. Our goal is to be 100% objective in our analysis, and we do not want to run the risk of being swayed by products provided at no cost.