Best Exercise Bands of 2021
Most exercise resistance bands are best used for specific muscle groups. The Whatafit Resistance Band Set, on the other hand, is an excellent choice if you are looking to do a full-body strength training workout without breaking the bank or fussing with weights. The handles, ankle straps, and door anchor, not to mention the countless ways you can combine the bands to vary your load options, make this one of the more versatile sets. It comes with five different bands from 10 to 50 pounds, adding up to a whopping 150 pounds. 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 the hands, and the ankle straps fit a wide range of ankle sizes.
The Whatafit is a little pricier than some of the more simple setups, but for a good reason. It is also bulkier than the other options in this review, so if you are looking for something small to take with you while traveling, it may not be the right pick. That being said, we love this set. It is lightweight, versatile, durable, and works great for both upper and lower body workouts.
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: 10, 20, 30, 40, or 50 pounds — they can be stacked in any combination or all together, giving it a resistance range of 10 to 150 pounds. 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 or travel. The Letsfit 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, if you wrap the latex straps around something like a rough tree, we recommend that you place a soft barrier like a towel between the tree and the straps to avoid tears and protect the tree. While this stackable model is not unique in its design, it is one of the less expensive versions we found, making 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, though 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.
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 result in a lack of versatility. The OMERIL Bands cater to the lower half of the body, but there are plenty of ways to use them within that targeted zone. If you are looking for something that will work equally as well for your upper body and core, you may want to explore some of the full-body options in our test suite. The OMERIL set is easy to compact, so it is great for travel.
Pull-ups can be a difficult exercise to train, especially at the beginning of your journey. With six bands, ranging from 5 pounds of assistance to 150, the JDDZ Pull Up set allows for optimal scalability and safety while training. While these bands were made specifically to assist in pull-up training, they work just as well for a full-body workout. Add resistance to your lower body exercises like squats or even upper body strength training, like overhead pressing. The durable latex showed no signs of wear during our test period, but it is important not to load the bands with more weight resistance than they were designed to hold, or you might be at risk of snapping one. For example, do not try to use the 25-pound band in place of a suspension trainer, as you likely weigh more than 25 pounds.
If you are looking to use these bands to improve your pull-up game, you will need access to a pull-up bar. If you don't have one at home, don't worry because the zip-up travel bag makes them easy to take with you to the gym. However, unlike some of the smaller resistance loops, these bands are an investment. That said, the cost is, without a doubt, worth it when you consider the versatility, durability, and resistance range you get. These bands are great for anyone looking to work on their pull-ups at home or in the gym and are often used in pilates, powerlifting, and physical therapy.
The unique Pro-Tec Exercise Band is essentially a stretchy daisy chain. The multiple loops offer a small amount of scalability and versatility to this singular band. The rubber strip is comfortable and provides grip on bare skin and clothing. Unlike a static yoga strap, this dynamic band allows you to ease into your stretches and offers a small amount of resistance for exercises like squats. You can use it to stretch out your upper and lower body or for a light resistance rehab regimen. The singular band is small enough to travel with, simple to use, and is a great all-in-one option for a light warm-up and stretch before working out.
While the loops offer some scalability, this band is not meant for heavyweight strength training. Its scalability comes from the adjustment in length rather than resistance, like some of the other bands in our test suite. It does not offer enough resistance to hang from and won't replace your weight rack or your pull-up bands, but it will get you warmed up and stretched out before the heavy lifting begins.
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 of 50 pounds of resistance. The bands are 6 foot long straps and about as simplistic as they come. They are not loops, 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 light exercise 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-priced option for conditioning or rehabbing muscles as well as lower resistance full-body training.
The INTEY Pull-up Bands, despite their specific name, are rather versatile. These long, thick loops assist up to 135 pounds. This set comes with four bands of varying resistances, which offers decent scalability. Each thick band is very durable as long as it is not over-weighted. While they were designed for pull-ups, the INTEY is also a great option to add resistance to calisthenic exercises like squats in place of expensive exercise equipment like a leg press machine. They can also be used for yoga, pilates, and Crossfit. These bands are not small, but they travel nicely in their zip-up carry bag if coiled up properly.
The set of four offers decent scalability, though there are resistance band kits that come with more. In certain cases, like injury rehabilitation, 35 pounds of resistance may also be too high. Because the INTEY set does not offer an extra light band (in the 5 to 10-pound range), this set may be too heavy for rehab. It is important to note that each band is meant to offer a small range of assistance, and to exceed that weight may cause the band to snap or tear, so it is best not to use this set in place of a suspension trainer. The INTEY bands are best suited for safely training pull-ups and chin-ups but can be a great tool for a full-body workout as well.
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 many options for various 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 very scalable one.
Generally speaking, the bands function how they are supposed to, though they do lack versatility. They are also 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.
The Pro-Tec Resistance Bands come with a light, medium, and heavy band as well as a small carrying bag. They are great for warming up smaller muscle groups before heavy lifting and can be a vital tool for rehabbing various injuries. This compact set practically fits in your back pocket, making it the perfect on-the-go set for rehabbing a shoulder, elbow, hip flexor, and more. The number one issue with thin latex loops like the Pro-Tec is that they tend to roll up mid-exercise — but as long as we placed each band properly on our body, we didn't experience this issue.
Because there are only three different resistances, these bands will only take you so far in your strength training. This renders them less versatile than other bands in our test suite, but they are not designed for heavy lifting anyways. The Pro-Tec set is a great option for upper and lower body rehab and small enough to take anywhere.
The GoFit Resist-a-Cuff is a unique take on the resistance band. They are offered in light, medium and heavy resistances, but each is sold separately. We tested the medium resistance and were pleased with the level of resistance it offered. The loop has two padded ankle straps that are easy to use and very comfortable. The straps fit a wide variety of ankles and keep the band from slipping around on your legs. The velcro is strong and does not come undone, even under stress. You can also fasten one ankle strap to a fixed pole to widen your pool of exercises.
The GoFit scores rather low in our scalability metric because each resistance is sold separately. If you buy all three, the scalability is great but rather expensive. The circumference of the loop is large, so it works well for exercises where your legs are spread widely but doesn't do much for ones where your feet are closer together. Overall this band is a great option for those looking to spice up their lower body routine but isn't likely to be the only piece of equipment you'll need for a well-rounded workout.
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 Pro-Tec Stretch and Fit Simplify, are also high-scorers in this metric.
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 three 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 get creative and push the limits a bit.
Both the Whatafit and Letsfit sets scored highest in our versatility category. The handles, ankle straps, door anchors, 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, JDDZ Pull Up and Assist Bands, and the Whatafit Bands.
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 fewer moving parts, the better.
There are three winners of this category: the JDDZ, Whatafit, and OMERIL sets. While these bands are vastly different, they showed zero signs of stress after loading them heavily. You'll want to make sure to help preserve the longevity of your exercise resistance bands by keeping them away from excessive heat and sun.
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