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Resistance bands are an underrated addition to any home gym. When most of us go to stock up on fitness equipment, we prioritize weights, yoga mats—maybe even a cardio machine. Forgotten in this sea of obvious must-haves is the resistance band, a piece of equipment that is space-efficient, versatile, and extremely useful.
“Resistance bands are a perfect addition to your workouts if you’re traveling or whenever weights aren’t available,” Liz Chestang, an instructor at Obé Fitness, says. Bree Branker Koegel, a certified personal trainer for the FitOn App, agrees. “Bands are such an underrated workout tool,” Koegel says. “Their most obvious benefit is their versatility.” Koegel says she loves to use resistance bands to supplement her strength training and check her form—especially when she’s working out at home.
Read on for the best resistance bands available now.
Best Overall: Obé Resistance Loops
You can’t go wrong with Obé’s Resistance Loops. The bands are versatile enough to be used during any kind of workout—legs, glutes, arm, back, you name it. And because the set includes a Level I and Level II resistance band, it’s easy to make sure your workouts stay challenging as you get stronger. “Not only do I use the Obé Fitness resistance loops very often, but I love the durability and strength variation of them,” Chestang says. “Highly recommend.” Byrdie associate editor Holly Rhue agrees: "These resistance bands stay perfectly in place every time—even during jump squats,” she says.
Best Budget: Fit Simplify Resistance Bands
If you’re shopping resistance bands on a budget, Fit Simplify’s Resistance Bands are a dream come true. For less than $12, you can score five resistance bands—all of which are crafted from durable, natural latex. Each band boasts a different resistance level—ranging from extra-light to extra-heavy—so you can easily customize your workouts based on how much you want to be challenged. They’re also conveniently color-coordinated, so you never have to worry about mixing them up.
Best Set: Chareada Resistance Bands Set
Chareada’s Resistance Bands Set is basically a gym you can carry with you. The set comes with a whopping 23 pieces: five resistance loops, five resistance tubes, two handles, two ankle straps, two wrist wraps, two core sliders, one door anchor, two carrying bags, one jump rope, and one cooling towel for good measure. This may sound like a lot, but since all the pieces are so small, you won’t have to worry about them hogging a ton of space in your home. Plus, you’ll have everything you could possibly need to tackle a killer workout.
Best for Hips: Peach Bands Resistance Bands Set
Peach Bands are a best-in-class addition to any lower-body exercise. And because they’re so cute, you might actually look for excuses to work out with them. Each set comes with four resistance bands, which are color-coded based on their resistance level. The lightest band is the most beginner-friendly, and the darkest one is the most challenging. Toss them in your bag and carry them to the gym, on trips, or anywhere else you’re planning to work up a sweat.
Best for Glutes: Tone It Up Booty Bands
Byrdie senior editor Lindsey Metrus loves Tone It Up’s Booty Bands—and she’s not the only one. The lightweight loops make an awesome addition to any lower-body workout. Use the blue band for general strengthening and the pink band for more precise toning. And slip the bands on any time you need an added challenge.
Best Fabric: Peach Bands Fabric Resistance Bands
Standard latex bands are usually really durable. Chestang says she’s never had any problems with them, especially when she’s kept them cool, clean, and dry. But if you’re looking for a different option—or if you just don’t like the way latex feels—fabric bands, like Peach Bands’ Fabric Resistance Bands, are an amazing alternative. Use the bands the same way you’d use any others. And don’t worry about them slipping mid-workout—the insides of the bands are lined with no-slip grippers.
Best Thick: Recredo Non-Slip Bands
Many resistance bands are 2 inches wide. So at 3.15 inches wide, Recredo’s Non-Slip Bands are particularly thick. According to Recredo, this makes the bands even more durable, even more challenging, and even less likely to slip during workouts. So if you’re searching for an alternative to the classic latex loop, Recredo’s thicker, fabric bands may be just what you’re looking for.
Best Pull-Up Bands: INTEY Pull up Assist Resistance Bands
Looking to improve your pull-ups? There’s a resistance band for that. This set from INTEY comes with four resistance bands, all of which are designed to help you master pull-ups. Start with the thickest band, and work your way down to the thinnest one. Though the thicker bands offer more resistance, they’ll also give you more support as you attempt your pull-ups.
Best Ankle Band: SPRI Xercuff Leg Exercise Cord
The SPRI Xercuff Exercise Cord is like a Pilates ring that’s easy to wear. Simply slide your ankles into the adjustable ankle straps, and go about your favorite lower-body exercises. The attached resistance cord —which is available in resistance levels between very light and heavy—will add just enough of a challenge to keep things interesting.
Best Figure-8 Band: iRibit Fitness Figure 8 Resistance Tube Set of 3
The iRibit Figure 8 Resistance Tube is like a resistance tube, a resistance loop, and a pilates ring in one. Its two-handle design makes it easy to use as a resistance tube. No, you probably can’t attach it to your door, but the built-in handles are comfortable enough to loop around your hands and ankles. Its figure-8 shape makes it easy to slide around your legs like a pilates ring. And if you ever find yourself craving a resistance loop, you can remove the tube’s middle piece—and voilà, you’ve got one.
What to Look For in Resistance Bands
If you're just starting out with resistance bands, opt for a very stretchy option, then work your way up to the thicker bands. The stretchier, more elastic bands offer light resistance, whereas the thicker bands create more tension for a more challenging workout.
Tube vs. Flat Bands
Tube bands are made from a hard, dense rubber, and are usually equipped with handles for better grip. Some tube bands also have attachments for certain accessories, like ankle cuffs, allowing for countless versatile ways to work with them. Flat bands are more lightweight and lie flat (as the name suggests) against your body, making them ideal for exercises where the band needs to be in direct contact with your arms or legs.
Loop vs. Sheet Shape
Loop bands are cut in a circular, loop shape not unlike a giant rubber band. You've likely seen them in exercises that target the glutes or thighs, as they're perfect for adding resistance to yoga-based movements while engaging muscles. Sheet bands are a long strip of latex or rubber that can be wrapped around your hands, feet, or another anchor point. These bands are typically used for flexibility or mobility exercises.
What do resistance bands do?
Resistance bands help to create increased tension in your muscles, and will cause them to contract. This helps to tone your muscles, while also working to build strength.
What kinds of exercises are best with resistance bands?
The possibilities are pretty endless. Resistance bands pair well with yoga, flexibility, and strength training exercises, but you can also use them for cardio, mobility, and any routine that would normally use weights.
How often should I use resistance bands in my workout?
As often or as little as you want! While you can choose to use resistance bands every time you work out for maximum strengthening benefits, they're not a requirement.