For the sake of having 3-4 resistance bands, ranging from light to heavy, you can work pretty much any and every muscle in the body through its full range of motion. They are a great substitution for dumbbells and give you a great deal of accommodating resistance (they get harder through the range of motion). They are also often cheap at a few pounds per band, are incredibly lightweight, and are very portable, so you can keep them at home or store them in your luggage when you have to travel.
All in all, they are a fantastic option for resistance training.
How to make the most of your resistance bands
Resistance bands are amongst the best value for money, most accessible and most portable pieces of fitness equipment you can buy. However, there are some things that you need to bear in mind when using them, especially if you want to make the most out of your workouts.
First, they lend themselves equally well to isolation and compound/full-body movements. For isolation movements, like curls, flies or leg extensions, keep the resistance low and the reps high (anything above 10, up to around 20). For bigger movements, like squats or good mornings, go for a more moderate rep range (up to 12 works, though anything as low as 5 or 6 is fine) with greater resistance.
Don’t slack, either. You will likely be using resistance bands at home or on-the-go. However, you want to treat them as you would any gym or studio workout. Go into it with hard work on your mind. In this regard, HIIT workouts can be achieved really well with bands. Simply set up a circuit, using the same couple of bands for every exercise, set the clock and get sweating.
How to look for the best resistance band
As with pretty much all pieces of gym and exercise equipment, you will be able to find a great variable difference in quality, usability, durability and economy with different resistance bands. In the list that follows, we will be weighing all of these up to make sure you get eight options that give you the user experience you expect, that balance quality with price so that you don’t get ripped off, and that are built to last and give you a good range of training possibilities.
So, we’ve carefully considered the quality of each band, their adaptability, design and build quality, and their value for money. We have a few cheap options, a few mid-range options, and even a cheeky pricey option, so there should be something for everyone.
In addition, we’re looking at the styles of each band (though most resistance band types will give a similar user experience and can be used for most exercises, there are some crucial differences).
Our Best 8 Resistance Bands
The following 8 picks are fantastic pieces of equipment. Each style has its use and each weight range will be appropriate for something different.
COREZONE Resistance Loop Bands
COREZONE Resistance Loops represent a bit of a progression from Belus’ offering in terms of the experience level needed to begin with them. Where Belus’ bands start at 4lbs and go up to 12lb, COREZONE Resistance Loops come in a set of 6 that range from 10lbs all the way up to 40lbs. You will therefore need a decent baseline in strength to start and will have far more scope for progression as you continue onwards.
Having more bands in a set has its own advantages. Though you can change the resistance offered by an individual band to a small degree, by doubling it over or only taking one edge, or by changing hand position or anchor points, you will still find yourself somewhat limited. Smaller leaps in resistance over more bands will allow you to progress more smoothly and will offer more scope for training to methods like RPE (rate of perceived exertion – basically training to the point you feel able to on any given day, which takes some variability).
Loop bands also bring a lot to the table. Classically, it’s common to see them used for side steps and so forth to work the outer legs, though they have far more uses than this. They are particularly good for rehab post injury and physiotherapy to overcome any weak points, especially in the limbs. They can also be used as improvised SlingShots to aid with chest press power.
Again, this is a cheaper offering. For the price of a half month’s gym membership (and not a luxury spa – a back to basics council gym!) you can get everything you need to progress in your training.back to menu ↑
CoreSteady Resistance Bands
We’re getting a little pricey now. Where our first offering will generally give you change from a twenty, a full set of CoreSteady Resistance Bands will give you change from a couple of fifties. However, they’re worth the money.
The full set of five range from 15lbs to a whopping 175lbs! Beginners looking to use them as pure resistance bands will obviously do better to start at the lighter end of this range – or go for a different, lighter brand altogether. However, for stronger, more experienced, a top resistance 175lbs is incredible. Many mid-range athletes would struggle to bench press this much for any number of reps.
However, CoreSteady’s bands can also be used as pull-up bands. This means they can be looped around a captain’s chair or something similar, you can stand on them, and perform push ups with them taking some of the pressure off. High weight ranges start to make sense for beginners, here. If you weigh 200lbs and struggle to perform pull ups, take one of CoreSteady’s mid-range resistance bands and suddenly you can hit high reps.back to menu ↑
Starwood Sports Resistance Bands
Now we’re shooting for the middle ground – Starwood Sports Resistance Bands occupy the mid-point between CoreSteady and the likes of Belus and COREZONE pricewise. They don’t compromise on resistance, however. If you want the most resistance at the cheapest price, these are ones for you.
For the price of a couple of months’ membership at the aforementioned gym, you can get almost a complete set of these five bands (you will need to buy the thickest, orange band separately.)
Altogether… and brace yourself… CoreSteady’s bands range from 15lbs to a full 230lbs, including the heavy, orange band.
Good luck finding something to do with 230lbs of resistance band! It may be excessive for all but the strongest, most advanced athletes. However, the full range, at a decent price, means that you’ll never run out of room for progression. At a total of six bands, the jumps are actually quite reasonable, so this progression will also be pretty manageable.back to menu ↑
INTEY Resistance Bands
This is another middle priced offering. INTEY’s resistance bands also give you a good range of resistance at a decent price. For about the same as CoreSteady’s base range, you get 5 good quality resistance bands with a range of 10lbs to 175lbs, which is more than enough for most people, for most exercises.
This range also means that they are perfect for adding resistance themselves and for aiding pull up progression in beginners. This makes INTEY’s resistance bands ideal both for beginners and longer term trainees and athletes. Progression will be smooth and easy, all for a really very reasonably price.back to menu ↑
FitBeast Exercise Resistance Bands
Let’s go with one of the best styles of resistance tubes that money can buy – FitBeast’s resistance tubes are cheap and give a great degree of utility. They look fantastic, they’re versatile, and you can get five of them for next to nothing.
Their handles allow you to use them as something of a portable cable machine, if you manage to anchor them correctly – in a doorway, around a post, that kind of thing. They are also great for performing rows and can give a range of different pressures and directional forces during ab work. They are also phenomenally well reviewed by customers.
You get five resistance bands ranging from 10lbs to 50lbs, as well as soft cushion handles, ankle straps, door anchor and a small gym bag. They are far from the toughest product on this list, but they do their job well and you get a lot for your money.back to menu ↑
Belus Premium Resistance Bands
Belus Premium Resistance Bands are amongst the best value for money offerings on this list. They are really well designed and made and come in a very handy drawstring bag. As mentioned above, part of resistance bands’ appeal is their portability, so this added bonus is very welcome.
They come in three different strengths (not amazing, but decent enough for a lower budget brand). These are 4-8lbs (the light pink ones), 5-10lbs (the medium pink ones) and 6-12lbs (the purple one). You get all three in the set. This will be everything you need to get you started, all for less than twenty quid.
What really impressed us, however, was the 3 digital downloads that come with the Belus Premium Resistance Bands. Rather than just giving you a set of bands and letting you get on with it, Belus go the extra mile to make sure that you know what you’re doing. Downloads include the Loop Band Guide, Glutes Guide, and a 7-Minute ‘Booty’ Workout. The workouts are basic, but this is good – basic movement patterns are generally the most effective for eliciting a training effect, and more experienced trainees probably don’t need to rely on downloads anyway.
This is a perfect product for beginners. Though the resistance range isn’t spectacular, the quality and the downloads mean that you can hit the ground running in comfort. Even more experienced trainees will benefit from these bands – they offer a good workout and the guides will probably still teach you a thing or two (or at least remind you of what’s important!)back to menu ↑
Reebok Adjustable Resistance Tube
They are one of the biggest fitness equipment and apparel companies in the world, so it’s no surprise that Reebok have their own line of resistance bands. They are, also probably unsurprisingly, pretty decent – far from the best, but very good, very cheap, and with a few key quirks that earn them their place on this list.
The Reebok resistance band is adjustable. It is also available in three different resistance levels. This means that they are incredibly variable and you can use a single band for near enough an entire workout – though you will need to progress through to heavier resistances eventually if you want to maintain progressive overload.
The one downside is that they don’t specify the resistance that each of their bands delivers. This is pretty common, though these are the only ones on this list that do so. Instead, you get to choose between ‘light’, ‘medium’ and ‘heavy’.
This is a niggle, though. Customer reviews are stellar, the price is incredible, and a single band can be adjusted to deliver a very good workout. There is very little else you could ask for.back to menu ↑
Starktape Booty Building Band
This is our first figure of 8 band that we’ve reviewed, and the only one to make the list. Figure of 8 bands can be used in much the same way as circular bands, though with slightly greater utility in pulls and less utility in other movements.
The design of Starktape’s figure of 8 bands look amazing and give a great level of resistance for their price and type (figure of 8 bands rarely hit such impressive resistance figures as we have seen above).
As with Belus’ premium resistance bands, however, the greatness is in the detail (or, rather, the extras). They come with a Booty Nutrition eGuide, Online Workout Instruction Videos, an Abs, Waist, and Thighs workout, plus a small gym bag. This is pretty much everything a novice athlete needs to get started on their health and fitness journey.
This is all quite pricey, however. It sits roughly in between the mid and lower ranges of what we have so far reviewed, and you only get 1 band. Those free guides start to look a lot less free…
Nevertheless, if you’re just starting out and want some foundational instruction and a stylish piece of training equipment, BootyCo’s figure of 8 band will serve you very well.
Resistance Band Buying Guide Tips
Still not sure which bands to buy or what exactly what to look for? Take a look at some of our top tips below:
Different types of resistance bands
There are different types of resistance bands out there – bands with handles, big bands, those with small loops, physio bands, and so on.
The main things you want to consider when buying any piece of fitness equipment are the purpose you want to put it to, and the level you’re at. When looking for the best resistance band, as with any piece of fitness equipment, it’s important to keep your own goals and training habits in mind.
Shape and size, as well as colour and resistance level, are vital for getting the right bands for your needs.
Are you looking to rehab a muscle group or for something that will mimic a barbell? Are you looking for something that will aid your pull ups, taking the resistance down, or for something that will tire you out as you perform seated rows?
You can get looped bands, which are perfect for things like squats, push ups and good mornings, as well as straight bands with handles at either end, which are great for rows and pulls. Make sure you get both types, and make sure you use them correctly.
The band’s colour will generally signify its density, and hence its resistance level. Start off light and work your way up, always ensuring that you can finish each set with good form, but with fatigue setting in. Often, reds and greens will be at the lighter end, with blacks and blues being heavier. Each brand is different, however, so make sure you check first.
Generally, good-quality, big looped bands at different resistance levels will be best – they are by the far most useful, most variable type. However, for upper body control, try bands with handles or physio bands – they are great for isolation movements like lateral raises, pushdowns and curls.
For the legs, durable, good-quality big looped bands will be best. Resistance pants may be worth a shot, and smaller, slingshot style hip circles are good for targeting the outer legs. For most movements, however, the basics will always win out.
Choose a band that will give a full body workout
Most bands are good for a full body workout, if you know what you’re doing.
Experiment with angles. Barbells and dumbbells are good for lifting heavy weight, but bands are all about mind-muscle connection and spot targeting different stretches of muscle. Try a few different angles, adjusting fulcrum points in relation to anchor points, until you feel the ultimate stretch and resistance in any given muscle or muscle group. Realistically, once more, big looped bands or handles will work well for all of this, though the result can be achieved with most styles.
Try for maximum utility from your bands. Double or treble them up for drop sets, letting one go when you’re fatigued with each drop. Pick three bands, for example (they can be the same or different grades) and stand on them, taking the ends in each hand for curls. Curl to failure, then release one band. Curl to failure again, then release the second. Curl to failure at the lightest weight.
Use resistance bands to perfect technique in harder movements. For example, pull ups are one of the best exercises to include in a full body workout – they use the full torso alongside a great deal of core control. However, they are unattainable for many beginners. Use big looped resistance bands to lighten the load, giving you a supported pull up as you practice. Gradually bring down the resistance by using progressively thinner bands. Your back will be strong and densely muscled in no time.
Use them with your regular core exercises to add resistance and thus promote progressive overload. For example, perform you Russian twists with a looped band anchored to your feet, held in both hands, or perform 3D chest presses with a band anchored to a door or post, or perform leg raises with a looped band anchored to the floor and your ankles.
Staying safe with resistance bands
Always read the instructions and check the bands each time you use them – they can stretch and break over time. With this in mind, beware of over-stretching bands – if they aren’t long enough for a given exercise, buy a bigger size. This will help to stop them from snapping.
Make sure they’re anchored properly, to something stable such as an external door or a solid fixed point.
As with any form of exercise, pull back if something is hurting, make sure you’re using proper technique and don’t try to work through any injuries without taking medical advice.
Finally, don’t look at the bands as you’re using them – if they snap, or lose their anchoring, it will be like a giant rubber band flicking into your eyes. I hope I don’t need to say any more.