Last updated: November 2019.
Many people are beginning to see the benefits of using resistance bands in their workouts, but picking the right band can be confusing.
In this guide, we’re going to outline the two different resistance bands available, detail our recommendations for the best resistance band in each category, and help answer your most commonly asked questions on resistance bands.
Table of Contents
Overview of The Best Resistance Bands
The table below provides an overview of the different resistance bands we reviewed, ranked best to worst. Click on any title to check its current price.
|#1 Iron Core Fitness Resistance Bands||5|
|#2 Rubberbanditz Resistance Bands||4.8|
|#3 Valkyrie Calisthenics Resistance Bands||4.1|
|#6 Protone Resistance Bands||3.6|
|#7 Physix Gear Sport Resistance Bands||2|
The Two Different Types of Resistance Bands
If you have already tried shopping for a set of resistance bands, then you may have noticed there are two distinct types of bands available.
These are the flat loop resistance band and the tube resistance band style which are explained in more detail in the infographic below.
Flat loop resistance bands form a continuous loop and are (primarily) designed to assist you in making an exercise easier. These are the best resistance to buy if you are trying to achieve your first pull-up and are most commonly used with pulling-type bodyweight exercises and static holds, as their ability to support varying amounts of your body weight makes them perfect for working on easier progressions of these exercises.
Tube resistance bands are a single length and have handles at the end of each band. They also often have other attachment types which you can swap on the ends to allow you to attach them to structures like a doorframe. These bands are designed to act as a resistance to replace the need for weights or make an exercise harder. Wide rows by The Live Fit Girl is a good video example of using tube bands as resistance.
But which type of band will be best for you?
To answer this, you need to think about your goals and workout.
Flat resistance bands are best for those who are training calisthenics and bodyweight exercises. These types of bands come in different resistances so a lighter resistance band can be used to give you that little extra help or a heavier resistance band can be used to help you learn advanced bodyweight exercises that would seem impossible without a band.
Check out 10 Calisthenics Exercises with Resistance Bands to see some of the more advanced exercises that this band can help with (images included!).
Tube resistance bands are ideal for those looking to start out with more straightforward exercises at home, where the bands can be used instead of dumbbells or kettlebells to perform basic full-body workouts.
Note: You may also find a very small and thin version of the flat resistance bands which are much cheaper than any other type of band. These are often used in yoga or rehabilitation, but offer very little resistance and are therefore useless for any resistance type workouts.
Now that you know which type of band is best for your workout have a look at some of the most popular resistance bands below to find the best resistance bands set for you.
The Best Flat Loop Resistance Bands
When it comes to buying flat loop resistance bands, the most common buyer complaints aren’t issues with the quality of the bands themselves but instead frustration at purchasing a band which doesn’t match the resistance the user needed.
The easiest way around this problem is to buy a set of resistance bands (each brand usually has a standard set of two or three bands). This is recommended anyway as you will often need more than one resistance size if you are using them for various exercise types.
#1 Iron Core Fitness Resistance Bands (Best Overall Flat-Loop Bands)
Apart from the irritating fact that they appear to have been on a ’48 hour sale’ for the last 12 months, the Iron Core Fitness resistance bands are a popular choice with users and are our top recommendation for those looking for a flat loop resistance band.
The Iron Core Fitness bands are the best value on the market with prices ranging between £4.95 and £26.95, and free delivery within the UK.
They offer seven different bands with resistances between 2kg and 100kg, but if you are looking for the best resistance bands for pull-ups, then Iron Core Fitness offers a special “Assisted Pull Up Bands Set” which includes three resistance bands (Black 30-50lbs, Purple 40-80lbs and Green 50-120lbs). This is ideal for training for your first pull-up as you can move from the heaviest band to the lightest band as your pull-up strength improves. You can also combine the bands to give you even more scaling options.
#2. Rubberbanditz Crossfit / Calisthenics Bands (Best Quality Flat-Loop Bands)
The Rubberbanditz resistance bands are my personal favourites and the ones I use in my regular workouts. You can see that the ‘Light’ and ‘Robust’ variations of the bands are used in the 10 Calisthenics Exercises with Resistance Bands post I mentioned earlier.
The reason these bands are ranked number 2 on the list is that they aren’t the best value. Rubberbanditz resistance bands are sold in the USA, and therefore the prices are inflated due to the additional worldwide postage costs, which makes other options more attractive.
Distribution aside, these bands are of the highest quality of those reviews and Rubberbanditz also offer the largest variety of resistances with a total of 9 different bands available. I would recommend purchasing one of their combo bundles if you are looking for a mixture of resistances suitable for all exercises, or if you are looking to buy your first resistance bands and are unsure of which band is best for you.
Top tip: their Medium and Heavy resistance band varieties are most suited for your average Calisthenics exercises.
Their website is also one of the better ones out there for resistance band suppliers, with some great videos, photos and tutorials to help you get going.
#3. Valkyrie Calisthenics Resistance Bands
These bands aren’t as great in quality in my opinion compared to other bands reviewed, and there have been reviews online of the occasional band snapping.
In terms of how they feel, they are most similar to the Iron Core Fitness bands previously mentioned.
What I do like about the Valkyrie bands is that the brand is great at keeping their range of 8 different resistances bands constantly stocked online, especially to UK buyers. Many of the other resistance band retailers such as Rubberbanditz are American retailers, whereas Valkyrie keeps Amazon EU stocked much more regularly than their American competitors.
The Best Tube Resistance Bands
#1. Bodylastics Resistance Bands Set (Best Quality Tube Bands)
The Bodylastics Resistance Bands Mega Set includes a whopping 31 pieces with 14 different resistance bands that can be stacked to provide a huge range of resistance.
The Bodylastics Clip Bands enable you to add or subtract resistance to create a resistance that’s suitable for any muscle group, with a resistance range from 3lbs all the way up to 404 lbs.
#2. Black Mountain Products Resistance Bands
Black Mountain resistance bands are highly rated due to their versatility. The kit includes a range of pieces allowing you to use the bands with handles, with an ankle strap, or even anchored to a door, allowing you to mix and match the five bands as you choose. They also include a lifetime warranty, and as an added bonus you even get a branded bag to keep them in!
Due to how streamline these are, you can even stack them together to benefit from the combined resistance of multiple bands. If you’re looking for quality tube resistance bands, then these are the right choice for you.
#3. Protone Resistance Bands (Best Value Tube Bands)
Similar to Black Mountain resistance bands, the Protone resistance bands come as a kit of 5 bands with handles, ankle straps, and a door anchor, but the set of 5 bands offer lighter resistance compared to the equivalent Black Mountain band set, and they don’t appear to live up to the same quality.
When it comes to Protone, the advantage is certainly the price. At only £15.99 these bands are a steal for first-time buyers and those who are intrigued to find out what all the resistance band hype is about. Beware though that the cost will match the quality, and with lighter resistances, these bands may prove to not hold up expectations, especially to those of you really putting them to the test and using them for higher resistances.
Frequently Asked Questions
In this section, we’re going to break down some of the more commonly asked questions about resistance bands and how they can benefit your workout.
What Length Resistance Band Do I Need?
With resistance bands, it is not about length, but the level of resistance that the band offers. Resistance bands of the same brand will often be the same length, but the width of the band will differ for each resistance. A wider band has a higher resistance meaning it is harder to stretch and will support more of your weight. A thinner band has a lower resistance meaning it will be much easier to stretch and will not support as much of your weight.
How is The Resistance of Each Resistance Band Measured?
The level of resistance each band offers is measured in a weight range. Like an elastic band, each resistance band stretches to a limit and offers different resistances between those limits. The weight range value represents the weight the band is designed to support up to the max weight as it is stretched.
What Do The Different Resistance Band Colours Represent?
Can I Build Muscle Using Resistance Bands?
Because a resistance band can act like a weight, it is a great alternative to standard gym weights for building muscle. Using resistance bands with bodyweight exercises will build muscle, but how effective this will be compared to weight training depends on your workout.
What Are The Benefits of Using Resistance Bands?
There are many benefits to using resistance bands; they offer much more variety to your workout, they are fantastic for using to train progressions, and they are easy to put in your bag and take to the gym with you.
What Are The Benefits of Using Resistance Bands?
Resistance bands are often neglected equipment at the gym when it comes to serious training. They’re usually reserved for warming up, cooling down, or improving your flexibility. If you look around, barely anybody uses them as a staple of their working sets. However, resistance bands can actually be extremely useful for building strength, power, and size, too.
Below are seven ways that resistance bands might be able to help you with your goals, and some of the benefits they hold.
1. Variety of Exercises
Resistance bands are similar to kettlebells in that their design is so simple and so versatile, you can complete almost any exercise with them. Squats, presses, rows, crunches, and basically any exercise you can do with a normal weight, you can do with a resistance band. This is extremely useful for the next point.
2. Improve Your Mobility
Bands are the perfect solution for spicing up your flexibility and mobility routine to prevent yourself from injuries and get more out of your exercises.
Usually, stretching can be quite uninteresting and demotivating as the effectiveness of your session will depend on how flexible you already are.
Many of the best stretches depend on some form of external resistance, such as a training partner, to push the muscle past the point where you can. Yet, not many of us have the luxury of a training partner. Thankfully, by wrapping the bands below and around your limbs, you can pull the muscle into a deeper stretch to lengthen it further and allow you to progress quicker. For instance, a standard lying hamstring stretch can be difficult for some, but by wrapping the band underneath your foot and elevating it overhead, you can pull the muscles of the upper and lower leg further into the stretch.
You can also use them for warming up or cooling down, moving your muscles throughout the entire range of motion and doing light strengthening exercises before your main working weight. This makes the bands essential for your training as an exclusive piece of equipment or as part of a larger routine.
3. Easy to Store and Travel With
Staying fit and healthy whilst on the move can be extremely difficult as you don’t always have access to the best food, a good gym or enough time to train. Thankfully, resistance bands are extremely lightweight and can be easily stored to carry with you wherever you go, and thanks to their versatility, you can always be confident that you’ll get in a good workout.
4. Can Make Normal Exercises Harder
As resistance bands can be wrapped around things and stretched, they can be used to increase the intensity of normal exercises. For instance, by placing the handles underneath your palms and putting the band behind your back, you can increase the resistance of your push-ups.
If you attach the bands to either side of a dumbbell, you can increase the resistance of the squat and bench press. This is a good way to help with the topmost portion of the lift as that will be where the band is stretched the most. So, if you have trouble locking out or want to take your exercises to the next level, then bands can do that.
5. Reduced Risk of Injury
Resistance bands can provide all the same benefits for your muscles when compared to barbells and dumbbells, but they carry a reduced risk of injury for your joints.
If you already have an existing joint injury, then this allows you a way to train your body to become bigger and stronger without worsening these injuries. Not to mention, bands can make for an excellent solution when rehabilitating yourself after an injury.
Due to their lack of stress upon the joints and the fact that you can purchase the right tension based upon your capabilities, you can use bands to slowly strengthen your muscles and joints no matter where you are.
6. Constant Tension
Interestingly, with some movements that use a barbell and dumbbell, there are parts of the exercise where the muscles aren’t being worked that hard. This is all because of the different effects of gravity throughout the range of motion. Yet, with a resistance band, there’s a constant amount of tension throughout the entire movement, leading to greater stimulation of the muscles and better results.
If you’re looking to purchase fitness equipment for your home, then resistance bands are an incredibly cheap yet effective option compared to dumbbells, kettlebells, and other equipment. Not to mention, as you can perform a variety of exercises with them, there’s no need to purchase a large range of equipment because the bands can do it all.
This saves you space, money, and time between starting and reaching your goal.
(Flat Loop) Resistance Band Sizing Guide
In this section, you can find out which resistance band size you need based on matching the resistance value to the exercise or training goal you wish to use the band for.
Although all brands of flat loop resistance bands should use the same sizing metrics, the sizes below are based on the Rubberbanditz resistance band selection.
All weights are listed in both imperial and metric.
Light – 2kg to 7kg (5lbs to 15lbs)
First up is the Light band which as you can see really doesn’t offer much resistance.
It offers no worthwhile strength training resistance, and at such a low resistance, it offers almost no assistance to bodyweight exercises.
This band is best used as a stretching and rehabilitation aid.
Medium – 9kgs to 16kgs (20lbs to 35lbs)
Let’s move on to this next band with some real figures for comparison.
If you were to weigh 75kgs (175lbs) then the resistance offered by this band is around 10-20% of your body weight.
If you’re a bodyweight training beginner and struggling to perform a pull-up, then a band which assists 10-20% of your body weight will be perfect for helping you achieve the pull-up without making the exercise too easy. If you’re a bit lighter than the example above, then you may even get more mileage from the band as you get stronger.
Heavy - 14kgs to 23kgs (30lbs to 50lbs)
This resistance range isn’t too different from the previous range.
It would suit somebody who is either heavier than my example or would like a higher range of resistance.
Even better, I’d recommend both bands as inevitably you’ll progress with your training and find that each band is suited to a different exercise depending on your progression.
Robust – 18kgs to 36kgs (40lbs to 80lbs)
This resistance range is my personal favourite. It supports around 25-50% of my body weight, which is perfect for someone like myself who uses the bands to support a portion of my body weight when doing more complex Calisthenics exercises.
If you’re struggling with those elusive exercises which require plenty of patience and training, such as Front/Back Levers, Human Flags and Muscle-ups, then this is the perfect resistance band range for you.
Power – 23kgs to 55kgs (50lbs to 120lbs)
At 23kgs (50lbs) I think these resistance bands really come into their own as a replacement (or addition) to weight training.
You can wrap the bands around a barbell and then anchor the bands to a fixed item on the floor, or even a couple of heavy kettlebells to keep them anchored.
From here you can perform the same types of exercises which you would usually do with a barbell or dumbbell, but the ‘weight’ provided by the resistance bands get heavier as you stretch them during the movement.
Don’t forget that you’ll need to buy two identical bands to use the bands for powerlifting exercises on a barbell such as squats, bench press and deadlifts.
Strong – 27kgs to 68kgs (60lbs to 150lbs)
I’m going to say the same as I said with the Heavy band resistance range here, in that it’s not awfully different to the previous resistance range, and therefore the resistance bands would complement each other well when bought as a pair.
The additional resistance here may also be useful for those training plyometric or explosive exercises where a stronger band is definitely needed.
Monster – 36kgs to 91kgs (80lbs to 200lbs)
There are resistance bands that offer greater resistance bands than this, but at this point, I’m going to group anything of this resistance and higher together.
The resistances at this range span higher than the weight of the average user themselves, so at this point, the bands should only be used in a resistive manner, most likely for strength training.
Founder of calisthenics-101.co.uk. Training calisthenics since 2012.
Currently working on: 30 second one-arm handstand, muscle-up 360, straddle planche.