When you can’t make it to the gym, you don’t have to wait days (or, for some of us, weeks) before getting your sweat on. With the democratization of amazing gym equipment, everyone and anyone can find the right tools to help them get fit in the comfort of their own homes. That said, not all of us have room for an extensive home gym set-up, in which case you want to invest in versatile and compact pieces like resistance bands. These bands are a simple yet effective tool that you can use to exercise and build your muscles, as well as boost stamina and flexibility. It wouldn’t be a stretch (pun intended) to call them a “gym in a bag.”
Exercise bands come in all kinds of shapes, colors, and resistance levels. The kinds of exercises you’ll be doing will affect which one is right for you. To make it easier to find your perfect match, we’ve outlined the best resistance bands for every kind of workout. Whether you’re looking to tone certain muscle groups, increase your flexibility, or build strength over time, there’s a resistance band out there for you.
Best Complete Set
If you’re not yet sure what you’ll be using your resistance bands for but want to make sure all bases are covered, look for a high-quality, complete set like this one from Tribe. The set comes with five color-coded bands at various resistance levels, two cushioned soft-grip handles, two soft ankle straps, and a door-safe anchor. Not only is this a great on-the-go option thanks to its waterproof carry bag but you can also configure the many pieces to tone your chest, abs, biceps, legs, glutes, and more.
Best Affordable Set
On the other hand, you may just want to try out a set of exercise bands before investing in a larger set. If that’s the case, or you simply want a small set of equipment to complement your existing exercise routine, look at the Fit Simplify Resistance Loop Exercise Bands. Loop bands like these do not have handles or grips; instead, they’re made of made of 100-percent natural latex and form a complete 12-in-by-2-in loop. The simple design makes them an excellent tool during exercises like yoga or pilates when you want to elevate your workout. They’re also often used in physical therapy, especially by those suffering from leg, knee, and back injuries.
Best for Strength Training
If you’re investing in resistance bands because you want to build muscle, there are a few things to look for: stackable bands, versatile attachments, and comfortable grips. The Fitness Insanity set comes with five stackable exercise bands, a waterproof carry bag, legs/ankle straps, and an exercise guide e-book. It also includes a door anchor attachment which you can use to secure your band, letting you perform more complex and high-intensity resistance exercises. What we like about the Fitness Insanity test is that the bands are both long-lasting and stackable, letting you combine weight up to an equivalent of 150 pounds.
Best for Pull-Ups
One of the advantages of resistance bands is that they can even replace bulky gym equipment like chin-up bars. Serious Steel’s Assisted Pull-Up Bands are built to help you improve your pull-ups, though they can be used to stretch and tone, too. The bands come in six different resistance levels: 2 to 15 pounds, 5 to 35 pounds, 10 to 50 pounds, 25 to 80 pounds, 50 to 120 pounds, and 60 to 150 pounds. When choosing, think about the counterbalance you would usually use at the gym and pick an equivalent band. Serious Steel also has a pull-up guide on its site to help you decide. The 25 to 80 pound band covers most users and is on sale for $24 on Amazon.
Best for Curls and Pulling Exercises
Tube bands are popular because they come with a built-in grip and are usually less expensive than the complete resistance bands kits. However, you only get one band, so you want to make sure it’s what you want before buying. This piece from Liveup is 100-percent free of latex and is instead made with high-quality rubber and TPR Foam, both durable, comfortable and eco-friendly materials. For the resistance band beginner, this is an excellent alternative to loop bands. Liveup offers four resistance levels, ranging from 12 to 15 pounds up to 40 to 45 pounds, and each is four feet long.
Best for Hips
With these hip resistance bands from MAXFIT, you won’t complain when leg day comes around. Great for squats, lateral steps, deadlifts, and more, these resistance bands sit around your hips for added resistance during leg workouts. Designed to stay put (no slipping or rolling up), you can focus less on adjusting your bands and more on keeping your core tight and your legs stable. The set comes with three bands — small, medium and large — and an accompanying carry bag so you can take these on the go.