Best Exercise Bands of 2020
Most exercise resistance bands have particular exercises they can be used for. The Whatafit Resistance Band Set, on the other hand, is an excellent choice if you are looking to get a full-body strength training workout on, without breaking the bank or fussing with weights. The handles, ankle straps, and door anchor make this one of the more versatile sets, not to mention the countless ways you can combine the bands to vary your load options. The set comes with five different bands with the following resistances; 10lbs, 20lbs, 30lbs, 40lbs, and 50lbs, adding up to a whopping 150lbs. The steel clips and natural latex make for a durable product, and considering the versatility of the bands, we think this set is worth the extra few bucks. The handles are very comfortable for your hands, and the ankle straps fit a wide range of ankle sizes.
This exercise band set is a little pricier than some of the more simple setups, but for a good reason. It is also a little bulkier than most of the rest of the sets in this review, so if you are looking for something very small to take with you while traveling, it may not be the right pick. Overall, however, we love this set. It is lightweight, versatile, durable, and works great for both upper and lower body workouts.
The SUNPOW Pull-Up Assistance Bands are a great way to train pull-ups, but that is not the only exercise they are useful for. With such a high resistance range and number of bands, this set can be a great tool for adding resistance to lower body exercises, like squats, or even upper body strength training, like overhead pressing. The durable latex rubber showed no signs of wear during our test period. They may feel a little stiff when you first use them, but it's not long into the first use that they begin to feel more stretchy. The rubber is comfortable on the skin and in hand, and fully capable of providing a great full-body strength training workout.
These bands are advertised towards improving your pull-up game, and while they are great for that, keep in mind that you do need more than just the bands to do so — you will need an actual pull-up bar as well. With a bar, we love the way the two tools work together to help you hone in on perfect form. Compared to smaller resistance bands, the SUNPOW set is a bit pricer, but that cost is worth it when you consider the durability, versatility, and resistance range you get. These bands are great for anyone looking to work on their pull-ups at home or the gym and are often used in pilates, powerlifting, and physical therapy.
The LetsFit Band Set is a versatile system that comes complete with five stackable resistance bands, two handles, two ankle straps, a door anchor, and a carrying case. The five bands provide the following resistances; 10lbs, 20lbs, 30lbs, 40lbs, and 50lbs and can be stacked in any combination or all together, giving this set a resistance range of 10 to 150lbs. The foam handles are comfortable to hold, and the ankle strap fits a wide variety of ankle sizes. The door anchor is very easy to install and uninstall between workouts, and the set fits neatly back in its carrying case for storage. The set can be used without a door as well, which we appreciate. The straps can be placed under your feet or around a pole or tree outside. However, we recommend that if you wrap the latex straps around something like a rough tree, that you place a soft barrier like a towel between the tree and the straps to avoid tears. While this stackable model is not unique in its design, it is one of the less expensive versions we found, which makes it a great option for those on a budget.
Since this product is less expensive than its competitors, we paid special attention to its durability. While we did not see any tearing or stiffening of the bands during our time with them, we did come across some reviews discussing the lack of longevity of this particular product, so that's something to keep in mind. The whole set is very easy to use, however, the straps which hold the metal carabiners to the stretchy bands seem to be a little ill-fitting, causing the carabiner to spin around a bit. This isn't much of an issue when the bands are in use, but this may cause unnecessary wear on the straps, shortening the overall lifespan. Bottom line, this set is a great choice for someone looking to target specific muscle groups on a budget.
The Letsfit Resistance Loop Bands are a great compact set, complete with a mesh carrying bag and a small booklet that outlines its uses. The five band resistances are as listed; extra light, light, medium, heavy, and extra heavy. The difference between each band is substantial, so scalability with this set is quite high. When we first unpacked them, we were a little worried that the bands were overly rigid and might snap, but after a few minutes, they softened up and became very elastic. Most rehab bands like these come in primary colors, but with Letsfit, you can choose between blues, pinks, or the traditional primary color scheme. While this does not add to its functional value, we appreciate the option. At first, we didn't think that the bands would feel comfortable on bare skin, but once they were on our arms and legs, we found them quite comfortable. The bands do not roll up, even when placed on the thighs. They do tend to slip down to the most narrow part of your body, so be sure to place them at your wrists, upper forearm or elbow, ankles, and just behind or just above the knee to help mitigate slippage.
Although there are five different resistance options which provide a decently wide range, the two easiest — very light and light — are in fact very light. They may be good for rehabilitation, but they are not quite heavy enough to gain strength. If all you want is to add a little extra resistance to your workout, these are great, but if you are a powerlifter, they probably won't do you much good without a set of weights. That being said, everyone is at a different level, and if you find yourself nursing an injury, they might really come in handy. Like most stretchy bands, these are a little stinky when they first come out of the package, but the smell goes away quickly. The Letsfit bands are great for anyone who is currently rehabbing or prehabbing, and they are especially good for those who are traveling as they take next to no space up in a suitcase.
Are you looking to work that gluteus to the maximus? The OMERIL Resistance Bands are a terrific and inexpensive way to get that booty burning. The bands are made of a fabric and elastic combo, complete with two comfortable grip strips to mitigate slippage. From pants to shorts and bridges to squats, all three bands stay put. They come in easy, medium, and hard resistances, and there is a considerable difference between each level, which makes them relatively scalable.
There is something to be said about using the right tool for the job. The best tool for the job is often the most specific, which can mean a lack of versatility. The OMERIL Bands really cater to the lower half of the body, but there are plenty of ways to use them within that target zone. If you are looking for something that will work equally for your upper body, you will probably want something else, as this set is best used by someone looking to add resistance to their lower body workout specifically. This set also packs away small, so it is great for travel.
The Potok Resistance Band Set is a great compact set of bands to take with you on the go. Whether you're a flight attendant looking to get a light burn on in your hotel room or you're a backcountry expeditioner with a torn rotator cuff, this three-band set is sure to do the trick without taking up much space. Overall, the resistance range is low, but the light, medium, and heavy bands are noticeably different and can be used together for a total 50lbs of resistance. The bands are 6 foot long straps and about as simplistic as they come. They are not circular, like many exercise resistance bands, and they do not offer handles, ankle straps, or door anchors like some of the pricier sets. This is a very simple style, and the price reflects that.
This band set alone will not get you jacked, but it will help you get a light exercise in on the go. All three bands made it through our rigorous workouts with no sign of wear or tear, but the bands' thinness leads us to believe that, under very heavy tension for an extended period of time, the durability may fail. That being said, the Potok bands are meant for a lighter, lower resistance, so if used correctly, they should hold up just fine. They are a great low price option for conditioning or rehabbing muscles as well as lower resistance full-body training.
The CANWAY Pull-Up Bands, despite their name, are multifunctional. They are longer, thicker, and can handle a higher resistance than most of the smaller thin loops you see on the market. These bands are specifically made to assist pull-ups by removing a little weight from your hands while you train. There are four bands, which offer a large range of assistance. If you are brand new, you can start with heavy assistance and slowly work your way up to not using a band at all. But have no fear, these bands are not rendered useless after you've mastered the pull-up — they can also be used to add resistance to calisthenic exercises like bodyweight squats. The set is a little bulky but is still easy to travel with, so you can ensure you are not losing all the progress you've made while on vacation or traveling for work. You can also opt to travel with one or two bands rather than the entire set of four if you are short on suitcase space.
Four bands are great, but five is better! Some of the other sets of this style that we researched come with five different resistances, which offers a little more of a sliding scale to work with. That being said, you can actually combine the bands in this set to create a few more weight options. It is worth noting that these are not meant to hold the entire body's weight, so do not use them in place of a suspension trainer. The CANWAY bands are best suited for safely training pull-ups and chin-ups, with the addition of a pull-up bar, but can also be used for legs, glutes, shoulders, arms, and physical therapy.
The Fit Simply Resistance Loop bands are a set of five bands and a small carrying bag. They are very compact, and the five different resistances offer a lot of options for various different body parts. Got hip flexor issues? Throw one around your ankles. How about shoulder issues? They sit nicely on the wrists as well. With latex loops like this, the number one worry is that they will roll up — we didn't have that issue with this set as long as we placed them properly on our body.
There isn't much to complain about with the functionality of these bands — they work how you want them to, and they last. That said, the carry bag is stiff and papery, which does not affect the bands' integrity at all, but probably won't be able to take much abuse and is rather unpleasant to the touch. Again, the bands work exactly how they are supposed to and are best used for a range of workouts from glute and hip activation to arms and shoulder workouts to rehab, and they are small enough to take with you anywhere.
An exercise band loop is a well-known tool for adding a little resistance to your workouts, but sometimes a little resistance is not enough. That's where the GYMBANDIT Heavy Set comes in — this 3 tier set comes with its very own carry bag and offers resistance up to one hundred pounds. It is great for anyone looking to take their core and lower body workouts to the next level. The bands do not roll up easily, and their thickness offers support and durability. Each band varies significantly in resistance, making this set a scalable one.
Generally speaking, the bands function how they are supposed to; however, they do lack versatility. The bands are so thick and offer such a high resistance that they are harder to get around larger upper legs. Pro tip: if you have larger thighs and need the kind of resistance these bands offer, be sure to slip on a pair of tight pants made from a more slick material, as it is much easier to slide them to the upper thigh this way than on skin or loose pants. Not only do the thick-thighed folk stand to struggle a little with this set, but the resistance is so high that they may not work very well for upper body workouts. Bottom line: the GYMBANDIT is best used for lower body exercises by those with strong lower halves, who need more resistance than the average loop set offers.
Why You Should Trust Us
The person in charge of this review is Hayley Thomas from Denver, Colorado. She is a climber who has suffered a plethora of shoulder issues, which have made her very familiar with rehab and exercise resistance band usage. From warming up at the crag before attempting her hardest climb to date to rehabbing a torn labrum, stretchy bands have been a big part of Hayley's life for a long time.
While we would love to test every single resistance band known to humankind, we had to narrow down the options strategically. We took ample time to research the highest-rated options on the market, reading through user comments, and analyzing reviews until we landed on the best of the best for this review. We then purchased each set and had folks of varying body types with different needs rigorously test out each one. All the while, we assessed ergonomics, durability, ease of use, versatility, and scalability. We used each band for its recommended uses but also pushed the limits and got creative. Notably, we also tested a few more than what appears in this review but ultimately decided that they didn't belong among these top performers and gave them the boot.
Analysis and Test Results
To ensure we are offering the most accurate comparisons, we chose five different metrics to pay special attention to while testing out each exercise resistance band. Read on to learn about our findings for each metric.
In the case of this test suite, ergonomics refers to how efficiently and safely each product performs. We are essentially testing out oversized rubber bands here, and, as you can imagine, straight rubber on the skin — especially under tension — can potentially be quite uncomfortable, or worse. If a band were ever to snap it could cause some severe damage. We tested each product while wearing different clothing and during different exercises to ensure that booty bands do, in fact, work the booty, and pull-up sets really do help with the pull-up game.
The Whatafit is a favorite here. High-quality latex, comfortable ankle straps, and durable handles make for a very ergonomic and workout-friendly setup. The OMERIL set is also one that we really like. It's our top choice for glutes because the bands are a comfortable fabric with no-slip grips. Our two favorites for prehab and rehab, the Letsfit Loop Bands and Fit Simplify, are also high-scorers in this metric.
If you've ever come across a resistance band fail video on the internet, you know that you don't want to be on the receiving end of a snapping band. Be sure to always look your bands over for rips or tears before starting your workout and always ensure that you're using your bands correctly. For this metric, we repetitively pulled on each band the way it was intended, over and over again, checking between each stretch for signs of wear. In this case, the thicker the band and the less moving parts, the better.
There are two clear winners of this category: the CANWAY and SUNPOW pull-up bands. Both are made of thick natural latex rubber and showed zero signs of stress after loading them heavily. And, once again, the Whatafit and the OMERIL booty bands were also top performers here. You'll want to make sure to help preserve the longevity of your bands by keeping them away from excessive heat and sun.
Ease of Use
Not everything in life needs to be easy, but working out is hard enough, so you don't want to give yourself any extra reasons to skip the sweat and watch TV instead. By nature, exercise resistance bands are pretty simple, but just because the item itself is simple doesn't mean that figuring out how to use it is. Thankfully, most of the bands in this review come with a small instruction book, and, truthfully, they were all very easy to use. The Whatafit is, however, once again the clear winner in this category. This set comes with handles, a door anchor, and ankle straps, which may make the set as a whole more complicated, but it also ensures a little more direction. When you're using the handles, you know you're pulling with your hands, and when you use the ankle straps, you're meant to be moving your legs. This, in the end, provides a little additional guidance that we found helpful.
Having the right tool for the job is great, but having the right tool for many jobs is even better! We love a specialized tool, but having five different sets of stretchy bands isn't every fitness guru's dream. It is nice to know that the set you use for pull-ups can also be used for your lower body. You don't want to buy a set of bands that you can only use for 3 months while rehabbing a shoulder, just so they can inevitably end up in the trash, right? We took the time to test each band out for its intended uses as well as getting creative and pushing the limits a bit.
Both the Whatafit and Letsfit Set with Handles scored highest in our versatility category. The handles, ankle straps, door anchor, and general design of these straps allow for a plethora of different exercises. You can even use these bands to get a pre or post-workout stretch in.
Working out and physical therapy is all about progress. Lifting the same five-pound weight every day for the rest of your life may help you maintain strength, but we are continually looking forward and striving to be better, so five pounds this week might need to be ten pounds in a month.
We chose scalability as one of our metrics to showcase how long these band sets will prove to be an effective workout for the user over time.
We tested out the bands in each set from easiest to hardest, paying special attention to the difference in resistance between each tier. This helped us gather how long one may be able to use the set. There were three clear winners in this department; the Letsfit Set with Handles, SUNPOW Pull-Up Bands, and the Whatafit Bands.
Whether you're intimidated by the gym, on the go all the time, don't enjoy fussing with weights and complex machines, or you're in the middle of an intense rehab regimen, you can probably benefit from exercise resistance band work. Without trying all the bands out, it can be quite difficult to choose the right set, and searching the internet can only take you so far. This is why we did the research for you, focusing on key metrics to ensure that each product was properly tested. We hope that our hands-on testing has helped you in your search for the perfect exercise resistance band set. Now go get swole!
— Hayley Thomas