If you purchase an independently reviewed product or service through a link on our website, SPY.com may receive an affiliate commission.
Looking for a way to burn off a few extra calories from anywhere? Consider a set of the best resistance bands, which add a little oomph to a variety of exercises.
Resistance bands are basically stretchy pieces of latex designed to create a low-level force resistance, typically a few pounds, when you pull on them. They used to be a therapy tool, but have become a mainstream workout essential because they’re effective, easy to transport and easy to store.
Not only are they lightweight and transport easily, but resistance bands also work your muscles while significantly reducing the amount of harmful joint stress that you might get from free weights or exercise machines. That makes them great for seniors, people rehabbing injuries or just anyone looking for lightweight stress on their muscles.
Another huge benefit of resistance bands is their versatility. They can be used pretty much everywhere and, with resistance bands alone, you perform exercises for all the major muscle groups. That means you can get a full-body workout in or you can easily target one or two muscle groups.
Lastly, resistance bands are relatively cheap as far as home exercise equipment goes, and they frequently come in sets, with each band rated for a specific amount of resistance. So even if you don’t use them often or only for travel, they’re still a worthwhile purchase.
That’s why we’ve rounded up the best resistance bands, as well as our favorite resistance band exercises, below. You’d be surprised at just how simple it is to kickstart your exercise journey with these top-rated resistance bands.
1. Fit Simplify Resistance Loop Exercise Bands
These highly-rated resistance loop exercise bands from Fit Simplify are high-quality, made of 100% natural latex and come in five different resistance levels. These bands can be seamlessly integrated into any workout including yoga, pilates and strength training and come with their own carrying case for easy transport. They’re easy on skin and completely free of TPE or thermoplastic elastomers which can cause irritation. Use them to strengthen muscles and tendons as well as rehabilitate after an injury. This kit also comes with a 41-page instruction manual to show you how to use them and the most effective exercises available.
2. Limm Resistance Bands
These budget-friendly resistance bands will save you major bucks when compared to other expensive strength training equipment. They’re affordable and made with 100% natural latex that’s TPE free, odor-free, durable and will maintain their flat shape even with extensive use. They range in resistance from four pounds all the way to 40 pounds, and won’t pinch your skin, snap or leave marks on your clothes.
3. TheraBand Resistance Band Set
BEST FOR BEGINNERS
If you’re new to resistance bands, check out this beginner set from TheraBand. It comes with low-resistance bands that are perfect for learning new workouts, physical therapy or light pilates. They’re also reasonably priced at just $13, so if you want to upgrade quickly (or realize that resistance band training isn’t for you) you won’t be out for much of a loss.
4. Draper’s Strength Heavy Duty Pull Up Assist
BEST FOR PULL-UPS
Some resistance bands are offered in ultra-heavyweight to help with pull-ups. They’re ideal if you’ve been struggling to learn pull-ups, but even if you can bust out 15+, these will still up your game and allow for more sets. Just remember: the heavier the resistance, the easier the pull-up. So if you can’t get your chin above the bar, select the big orange band.
5. TAIMASI 19PCS Resistance Bands Set
BEST COMPLETE SET
Want a complete resistance band home gym? Go for this 19-piece set from Taimasi. It comes with five stackable bands, five loop bands, a door anchor, handles and two ankle straps. Plus, Taimasi has thrown in some nifty gym essentials as well, including a phone armband, a workout towel and an extensive guide to using resistance bands. Shockingly, all this clocks in at an extremely reasonable $26.
6. Aylio Premium Exercise Bands
BEST FLAT BAND
Flat resistance bands are slightly more difficult to get used to than bands with handles or loops, but the payoff is worth it. Flat bands force you to activate more grip strength during workouts, building a nice set of forearms in addition to whatever else you’re training. We recommend this high-quality set from Aylio because they have a wide range of tension from three to 35 pounds and more durability than lower-priced options.
7. SKL Resistance Bands Set
Almost all resistance bands are latex-based or pure latex, which is a problem if you’re allergic. If that’s the case, don’t lose hope: we found this non-latex set from SKL. The four included bands are made of odor-free thermoplastic elastomer that provides the same stretchiness without any latex.
8. Te-Rich Resistance Bands
BEST FABRIC OPTION
Not a plastic fan in general? You can still use fabric resistance bands to get the same result without all the snapping, twisting and rubber rubbing. These fabric workout bands function similarly and are made using the highest quality cotton and latex for great results without the worry of snapping or pinching. They’re fabric on the outside and have a latex grip on the inside that sticks to your clothing, making it easy to get the results you want without the bands sliding or rolling up. They come in three different resistance levels and you can choose between different colors sets depending on your workout mood.
9. Fitness Insanity Resistance Bands Set
With things like resistance bands, where snapping or breaking of bands is a genuine and dangerous fear, it never hurts to check out the versions reviewers are raving about. That led us to the Fitness Insanity Resistance Bands Set. They boast a 4.7-star rating, with 81% five-star reviews on more than 14,800 reviews. Reviewers mostly cited their safety features and ability to stack when praising the bands.
This set comes with five resistance bands, rated for 10, 20, 30, 40 and 50 pounds, a door anchor, two cushioned straps, two ankle straps, a workout guide and a workout poster showing various exercises you can perform.
10. Bodylastics Stackable MAX Tension Resistance Bands
Not all bands are explicitly designed to be stackable, but the Bodylastics Stackable MAX Tension Resistance Bands were designed to do just that. That means not only do you get the resistance of each individual band, but you can use multiple bands at once to hit all the weights in between, up to 404 pounds of resistance in this set. These bands also boast an excellent safety feature in the super-strong inner safety cord.
This set comes with six handles, six ankle straps, multiple kinds of anchors and seven pairs of bands, rated for 3, 5, 8, 13, 19, 23 and 30 pounds of resistance. The included carrying case ensures you won’t lose any gear either.
Our Favorite Resistance Bands Exercises
Now that you’ve hopefully found the best resistance bands for you, try out some of the following exercises, all of which can be completed with either just resistance bands or bands and an anchor. When positioning yourself for these exercises, the band should always have some tension at the starting point. Any slackness means you won’t get the resistance you’re looking for.
Check out the videos below to see exactly how to get started.
1. Chest Press
With the band anchored at about head level behind you and a shoulder-width stance with one foot forward, grip the bands at shoulder level. Stand far enough from the anchor that there’s tension. Push both hands forward, flexing your chest and extending your arms fully.
2. Chest Fly
With the band anchored around head-level behind you, extend your arms out to your sides at shoulder level, holding the bands with your thumbs facing the ceiling. Bring the bands together in front of you, like a big goofy clap, without bending your arms.
3. Standing Row
With the band anchored in front of you at roughly shoulder height, stand with the handles raised at arms-length. Pull the band back toward you as though you were trying to barely brush your knuckles against the side of your ribs while squeezing your shoulder blades together.
4. Bent-Over Row
Stand on top of the band and hold the handles in opposite hands. Bend over, keeping your legs bent and back slightly arched and perform a similar motion to the standing row by pulling your elbows back past your ribs and squeezing your shoulder blades.
5. Reverse Fly
Stand on top of the band and hold the handles. Bend over, in the same position as the bent-over row, and extend the handles outward making a 90-degree arc while keeping your arms straight, as though you were opening your arms for a big hug.
Stand on top of the band and hold the handles up near your shoulders. Lower your hips until your thighs are nearly parallel with the ground (or as close as you can get to that) and press your glutes and hips to stand back up.
7. Glute Kick
Start on all fours, hold the handles and hook the band around one foot. Kick the banded foot backward and upward, hold for a moment and return to the starting position.
8. Kneeling Crunch
With the band anchored high overhead, like over the top of a door, hold the handles and kneel facing away from the door. Holding the handles near your ears, crunch your body and squeeze your abs.
9. Overhead Press
Stand on top of the band with feet shoulder-width apart. Holding the handles around ear level, with your palms facing up, push directly toward the ceiling until your arms are fully extended.
10. Lateral Raise
Stand on top of the band with your hands at your sides. Perform a fly motion, raising your arms up and outward in a 90-degree arc, keeping your arms straight.
11. Front Raise
Assume the same position as a lateral raise, but instead of lifting your hands out to the sides, lift your hands in front of you, raising them to shoulder level.
Stand on the band, holding the bands with your arms down at your side. You may have to stand with a wide base to create sufficient tension here. Once you’re set, shrug your shoulders as though you were trying to lift your shoulders to your ears, keeping your arms and neck straight.
13. Bicep Curls
Stand on the band with your arms down at your sides holding the handles. With your palms facing up, curl your arms up and flex your biceps. You can go one arm at a time or both, whatever you prefer.
14. Tricep Extensions
Stand on top of the band with your knees bent and your back slightly bent over. Hold the handles to your sides at about mid-rib level with your elbows bent. Moving nothing else, extend your arms backward and flex your triceps.
Similar to bicep curls, you can exercise one arm at a time or both at once.
Hold onto the handles and sling the band around your back. Get into a push-up position and perform them as normal. The band might slip out of place at first, so try to get it a bit lower on your back.