In this review feature, we take a look at the best resistance bands for muscle and aerobic training. Resistance bands are an excellent, economical alternative to traditional weight sets such as dumbbells. Workout bands have grown in popularity due to home workout products such as P90X. Additionally, more people have taken to putting together their own home gym training space, instead of paying expensive gym membership fees.
The Benefits of Incorporating Strength Bands into a Workout Routine
There isn’t any reason to stretch the truth when it comes to resistance bands—there are many benefits to adding bands to your stash of home workout equipment. The great thing about resistance bands is that they are adaptable for multiple fitness levels. Whether you are a beginner or an expert, they can quickly be incorporated to add variety to your workout routines.
Top 10 Benefits of Adding Resistance Bands to Your Workouts:
- Economical. Resistance bands are very cost effective. Some smaller sets can be purchased for around $10 dollars. Even the premium kits can be found for about $40 and these include all sorts of extras. For example, some larger kits include DVDs and additional exercise equipment.
- Add Variety. Veteran bodybuilders and exercise enthusiasts know that one of the keys to overcoming plateaus is to continually shock the muscles with new workouts. Resistance bands add variety to your workouts that will challenge your muscles in new ways. Bands can be rotated with free weights, exercise machines , and other training such as plyometrics.
- Versatile. Another top benefit of resistance bands is that you can purchase a variety of resistances. Light, medium, heavy, and extra heavy (signaled by various colors) for example. Furthermore, with each resistance band type, you can increase or reduce slack to make it even harder or easier. You control the tension by shortening or lengthening the band. These enables you to have granular control over your workout routine. You can slowly progress from lighter resistances to heavier, building muscle and toning safely. You can even try using multiple bands at once for an extra challenge.
- Space Efficient. Workout bands have a very small footprint. They can easily be stored when they are not in use. Simply stash them in the closet or a drawer until your next workout session.
- Travel Ready. This goes hand in hand with our previous point. Strength bands are very portable and can be stowed in a suitcase. This allows you to stick to your workout plan even when traveling. You can get a quick 30 minute or so work out right in your hotel room.
- Safe. It is nearly impossible to “overdo it” with resistance bands. Whereas when using heavy free weights you need to have a spotter, workout bands can be safely used on your own, at home or on the go. Moreover, bands are easy on joints and allowing muscles to move fluidly through each range of motion.
- Adaptable. Resistance bands can quickly be adjusted to a lighter or heavier weight. If your on your last few reps and want to eek out a few more you can increase the slack to make it a little easier. If you enjoy workout videos exercise bands allow you to switch weight much faster during short breaks, unlike dumbbells which may necessitate pausing the video to make weight adjustments instead of doing it on the fly.
- Range of Motion. The best resistance bands will allow you to go through a full range of motion. Unlike some machines, you won’t be limited to how far you can go and hit a “buffer” each repetition. This feature is great for increasing your flexibility which is an integral part of holistic body health.
- Full Body Workout. There are a handful of go-to exercises that resistance bands are great for such as bicep and tricep training. However, there are dozens of exercises if you are willing to get creative and/or do a little research online. You will be able to hit all the major muscle groups with training bands. Chest flys, front and side shoulder raises, and bent over rows are just a few examples of the exercises that can be executed with bands.
- Constant Tension. By wrapping a band around a chair, pole, foot, ankle, or any other stable object and performing an exercise, you are getting constant tension on that targeted muscle. That means it is impossible to cheat with resistance bands. Combine this fact with the ability to do a full range of motion exercise and you can see why they are a valuable way to mix it up and keep your muscles guessing.
Resistance Bands vs Weights: How to Exercise Bands Compare to Free Weights?
The are some major differences between using elastic resistance (bands) vs. free weight resistance such as barbell or dumbbell training. Do resistance bands build muscle? Yes, just like any type of resistance training, whether you’re using weight plates, your body weight, or something else, resistance band training builds muscle. Neither one of them are the wrong way to train, both should be used to consistently see gains from a training program.
Using a variety of exercises and lifts is the best way to avoid hitting a plateau. That means varying your workout type (video program, classes at the gym, yoga, cardiovascular, weight training) as well as your workout tools (dumbbells, stability balls, resistance bands, barbells) is the best way to keep your body from adapting. The human body is smart, it adapts quickly and if you do the same exercises over and over, it comes to expect these and becomes efficient. When this happens, you will no longer see fast gains.
One notable benefit of resistance band training is that you can mimic movements that you do in real life. This is great for athletes. For example, if you want to improve a tennis swing, you can perform sets of that exact motion against resistance. No machine can do that. Bands can also be used in combination with other equipment such as stability balls, wall mounts, and steps.
- Provides Constant tension
- Prevents Cheating
- Easy to Store
- Very Portable
- Provides Variable Resistance
- Provides Resistance in Multiple Directions
- Change Resistance Level on the Fly
Advantages of Free Weights Training:
- Ideal for Low Rep, Heavy Weight
- Provides Means to Bulk Up
- Provides Invariable Resistance
- Easy to Measure Incremental Gains
- Determined Path of Movement
- Virtually No Weight Limit
Best Resistance Bands of 2016
This is our resistance bands reviews section. Here we take a look at the best resistance bands products and kits to help you get the most from your workouts (and wallet!).
If you want the best exercise bands, SPRI’s new Xertube Braided Resistance Bands are as good as they get. They are an upgrade on the original SPRI Xertube bands, incorporating the braided design. These are professional, gym quality resistance bands. SPRI sells these exercise cords in 5 different resistance levels, with a unique color for each band.
They are sold separately and are more expensive than most bands, but the braided design is built to last. The unique braided tubing mimics the time tested construction of high quality rope; weaving together four quality dipped tubes into a taut braided construction. This internal tubing shares the load across each of the four tubes for near perfect tension distribution during your exercises. This patented technology results in very resilient workout bands that will stand the test of even the most rigorous high intensity training.
You only need to buy the resistance levels you need for your training. If you’re a veteran workout machine, you don’t really need the level one band. If you’re just starting, no need to pick up level 5.. you get the picture. For those unsure, it isn’t a bad idea to get the level 3 band and see if you need one of the higher or lower levels after that. Remember, you can always increase or decrease slack to make it harder.
The SPRI original Xertube resistance bands are less expensive. They aren’t built to last as long as the braided bands, but they are constructed with a high-quality rubber material. These bands are also sold at 5 resistance levels (5 colors).
The Black Mountain set is a great, economical alternative to buying the SPRI bands individually. This is an ideal set to go along with a workout video like P90X. The downside is that each band does not have its own handle like you’d get from the SPRI bands. Two handles come packaged with this kit, so you swap the handles to the resistance level you want to use. This is done using a metal clipping system. It can kind of be a hassle to swap these between sets, but other than that, it is a great kit.
The kit includes 5 resistance levels which can produce a resistance weight equivalent to 75 pounds. This kit includes a user guide & exercise chart, carrying case, and a very helpful door anchor and ankle strap. The door anchor and ankle strap help you get the most out of the bands and enable to do a wider range of exercises. The handles are nicely cushioned with foam to prevent grip fatigue and increase comfort.
Black Mountain also sells standalone resistance bands. This is great if you want handles for each band and don’t want to be changing them during the heat of action. Each individual band comes with a door anchor and starter guide.
The advantage of these compared to the individual SPRI resistance bands is that instead of 5 resistance levels, you can purchase up to 8 resistance levels that Black Mountain offers. That gives you granular control over your resistance level. It starts at the yellow band which is about 2 to 4 pounds of resistance and goes all the way up to the “Atomic” band which is about 70-75 pounds of resistance—holy moly!
This is a set of 4 loop bands from Phantom Fit. These are slightly different from traditional resistance bands and are designed for specific exercises. These are good for physical therapy, stretching, lunges, side to side exercises, squats, and a variety of Yoga and Crossfit exercises. They are an excellent addition alongside regular exercise bands.
They are constructed from a durable latex material. Phantom Fit promises if one of the bands snap during an exercise, they will send you a new one free of charge. You can use one of the four bands alone, or use a combination of the bands for your desired resistance level for a total of about 20 resistance levels. The extras that come with the kit include a nylon carrying case to take them on the go, as well as free workout music that you can download as a mp3 file. Not bad for about $12 bucks!
The Fit Force Athletics kit comes with comes 5 resistance bands and a whole lot of extras. This is a great set to give as a gift as it comes with a gift box and 2 free gifts. It is at a higher price point than most other sets, but the extras compensate for the higher price tag. The two gifts are the helpful complete list of band exercises wall chart and two wrist bands.
Fit Force uses high quality latex tubes for their bands and the heavy duty clips are extremely thick and are made to last a long time. This kit also includes two ankle straps and one door anchor.
Other Good Options:
Resistance Bands Workouts for Men and Women
The P90x workout series is a great way to experiment with and utilize resistance bands. All of their exercises incorporate adjustable dumbbells as well as a variation with resistance bands.
Though some resistance bands kits come with exercise manuals or charts, it helps to know some of the more common exercise band workouts. Our friends at greatist.com have put together a great list of the top exercises for resistance band users.
There are additionally many exercise videos on YouTube with workout routines using resistance bands. GymRa has put together one of our favorite routines and you can watch the video at no charge. Below is an example video from the series that incorporates resistance bands.