Many people are beginning to see the benefits of using resistance bands in their workouts, but picking the best resistance band can be confusing.
Not only are there hundreds to choose from, but there are also different types of resistance bands available, meaning the best resistance band for pull-ups will certainly NOT be the same as the best resistance band for yoga or pilates.
In this guide, we’ll give a brief outline of the different types of resistance bands available and what they’re best used for, and provide a list of the best resistance bands to buy, based on your needs.
We’ve also included a frequently asked questions section to help answer common queries about resistance bands.
For those looking for further guidance, we cover the different resistance bands in more detail later in the guide and list some alternative picks too.
Table of Contents
The Different Types of Resistance Bands
If you have already tried shopping for a set of resistance bands, then you may have noticed there are three distinct types of resistance bands available.
These are flat loop resistance bands, tube resistance bands, and a smaller and thinner version of a loop band which is used for yoga and pilates.
This video gives a great explanation of the different resistance bands, with further information below on each type:
Flat Loop Resistance Bands
These resistance bands form a continuous loop and are primarily designed to assist you in making an exercise easier. The most common use of this resistance band is people who are trying to achieve their first pull-up.
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
These 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.
They 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.
Here’s a great example of these resistance bands in use by The Live Fit Girl:
Mini bands are also flat loop bands, but they’re much smaller than the ones we have already described above. They are most commonly used in pilates and yoga.
MadFit gives a great example of using these bands in their ’10 Minute Booty Workout’ below:
Flat Loop Resistance Bands Vs Resistance Band Tubes
If you are still struggling to understand the key differences, then our infographic below should be useful.
Want to use this infographic on your own site? Copy and paste the HTML below to embed it in a way that attributes Calisthenics 101.
The Best Resistance Bands Available In The UK
#1. Iron Core Fitness Bands – Best Resistance Bands For Pull-Ups
Apart from the irritating fact that they appear to have been on a ’48 hour sale’ for as long as I can imagine, 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).
A set of resistance bands are 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 greater resistance.
#2. Rubberbanditz Resistance 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 I’ve used the ‘Light’ and ‘Robust’ variations of the bands in the 10 Calisthenics Exercises with Resistance Bands post I mentioned earlier.
Although these resistance bands are the best quality flat loop bands available, they are also one of the most expensive on the list, which is why they’re ranked at #2.
One of the primary reasons these bands cost more than others is due to their increased shipping cost. Rubberbanditz is based in America, and therefore UK buyers will have to pay additional worldwide postage costs.
Those willing to pay a little extra for these bands will be glad they did though. While some cheaper resistance bands have a ‘shiny and squeaky’ look and feel to them, Rubberbanditz resistance bands are made from Natural Latex which gives them a superior quality and feel to them.
Rubberbanditz also offers 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. PULLUP & DIP Resistance Bands
PULLUP & DIP are a German company who are known for their outdoor, mobile pull-up bar. Since finding success with their pull-up bar back in 2015, they have since increased their selection of calisthenics equipment, with their resistance bands being one of their top offerings.
PULLUP & DIP sent me a set of resistance bands to review at the same time as sending me a pair of their parallettes, and I’ve been really pleased with the quality of the resistance bands. They sent me a full set which includes 4 resistance bands, ranging from 4kg to 54kg resistance.
One benefit of these bands is that they come with a door anchor which you can loop the bands through, and PULLUP & DIP also have some free e-book resources which are great for getting the most out of your resistance bands.
I wouldn’t rate the bands as highly as Rubberbanditz, but they also aren’t as expensive. I prefer them to the Iron Core Fitness resistance bands, but they aren’t as cheap. Overall I’d say these bands are a solid mid-tier option for those looking for a set of flat loop resistance bands.
BONUS: For those of you who are interested in purchasing a pair yourself, I’ve bagged an exclusive 10% discount for users who purchase directly from PULLUP & DIP. Simply follow this link and use the coupon code calisthenics-101 at checkout to get 10% of your order!
#4. Bodylastics Resistance Bands Set – Best Quality Tube Bands
The Bodylastics Resistance Bands Mega Set is our top choice for those looking for tube-type resistance bands that can be used for full-body workouts at home.
The 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. Although flat loop bands can be combined for extra resistance, the stacking design used by the Bodylastics resistance band is much more elegant and simplistic.
Although this set may be quite pricey, it’s got everything you need, so you won’t have to worry about adding more resistance tubes to your selection at a later date.
#5. Black Mountain Products Resistance Bands
The Black Mountain resistance bands are a good 2nd choice to the Bodylastics set, for anybody looking to purchase a set of resistance tubes on a lower budget.
The kit includes several items which allow 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!
You can stack the bands together for extra resistance, but due to the design of the handles, this isn’t as ergonomic as the Bodylastic solution. I’d recommend this set to those who are working at lower resistances and just trying tube bands out for the first time, but more experienced users may want to opt for the Bodylastics set instead.
#6. Protone Resistance Bands – Best Value Resistance Tubes
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 may 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.
#7. Gritin Resistance Bands – Best Mini Bands For Pilates and Yoga
We haven’t talked much about mini-bands as they’re not usually suited to a calisthenics audience, but for pilates or yoga practitioners out there who have stumbled on this guide in search of a band, then these Gritin resistance bands are likely the ones for you.
The bands are made from premium quality, natural, latex material, which is comfortable on the skin. This can make a world of difference when wrapping the bands around your bare legs, as cheaper materials can easily catch on your hairs!
To all the bargain hunters out there, remember this; these are much cheaper than the flat loop bands recommended elsewhere in this article because they are much smaller and used for different exercises.
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?
Each colour band refers to a different level of resistance which the band offers, and each brand has its own colour coding system.
From experience, we have found that bands that offer little resistance are often coloured black or red, and bands that offer a higher resistance are often coloured green or purple.
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?
7 Reasons to Add Resistance Bands To Your Workout
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 www.calisthenics-101.co.uk. Training calisthenics since 2012.
Currently working on: 30 second one-arm handstand, muscle-up 360, straddle planche.