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Which Resistance Bands Should you Choose?

Updated on April 5, 2015

Resistance Bands are Serious Business

Not all resistance bands are created equal. In fact, there was a time when resistance bands were not taken seriously, and the idea of wrestling with some rubber bands in place of a "real" workout with the iron was laughable.

Those days are gone. Today's resistance bands or flat bands are well-made (at least the ones I'll talk about here,) have solid, comfortable handles (or none at all) and conform to a variety of exercises that transfer well to sport performance, or just building muscle and strength. The best part? Resistance bands are inexpensive, weigh next to nothing, and yet can be oh so effective.

The amount of resistance available varies from less than 5 pounds to over 200. Bands like the extra light Versatube tubing with handles are great for rehabilitation work,

Made by Power Systems, the company also offers serious resistance up to 200 lbs. with their 4 inch wide flat bands. Whether you are a powerlifter, a retiree who wants to work with light resistance, or someone who simply needs a portable tool that works, a variety of resistance bands can provide a complete exercise routine or add new dimensions to your workout.

Portable Gym

Which type of tool you choose depends on what you will use it for and individual strength. Is this intended to be a complete gym substitute for home or travel?

Choose resistance bands with handles, which makes it easier to perform traditional exercises. Be sure the handles are hard plastic wrapped in foam or rubber; hollow rubber handles will quickly split from the pressure of the bands. Models with tough and comfortable handles are available in a wide variety of colors.

Resistance tubing is useful on its own for performing bicep curls, shoulder presses, tricep extensions, chest presses and rows, to name a few. It can also be used in combination with a Bosu Trainer or stability ball for a greater challenge.

All of this equipment tucks away in a drawer, under a bed or into a suitcase with ease. If you prefer to work out at home, consider a system like the Lifeline Train Station.

The Train Station attaches to any door with a nylon web ‘door anchor.’ The vertical attachment allows the user to perform pulldowns, rows, standing chest presses and a variety of other exercises.

In addition to the two handles and two cables, a Velcro ankle strap and waist cuff provides a full lower body workout and other creative options. For greater resistance, simply purchase thicker cables. Besides providing more variety for a workout, the system has a quick adjustment mechanism to make transitions fast and easy.

For a well-rounded workout anywhere, buy a set of cables which provides a challenge but allows the user to remove bands to reduce the ‘weight.’ Another option is to buy a lighter resistance, a moderate resistance and a heavier resistance, and purchase additional bands as needed.

Heavy Lifting

People looking for a more serious challenge should definitely look into the Strength Bands from Power Systems or flat bands like those from IronWoody Fitness.

These bands are widely used by power lifters and any athlete wanting to increase power output for a sport, and with good reason-they work. They are also accessible to the average person trying to stay in decent shape.

As with other resistance bands a full spectrum of ‘weight’ is available. The IronWoody Fitness bands are rated #1 (5-35 pounds,) #2 (10-50 pounds,) #3 (25-80 pounds,) #4 (50-120 pounds, ) #5(60-150 pounds,) and #6 (80-200 pounds.) Use these with a broom stick or something similar to perform a full workout anywhere.

Flat strength bands are closed loops with no handles which come in different thicknesses according to their level of difficulty. Used on their own, the heavier ones can present a formidable obstacle (not to mention portable.)

Used with kettlebells or barbells, they help lifters develop greater power output through the concentric and eccentric portions of the movement.

The smallest of these bands from Power Systems is perfect for rehabilitation or people with less muscle strength. For those who are ready, the heavy work starts with the 1 3/4" inch band delivering 65-80 lbs. to resist; the 2 1/2" is 80-100 lbs., and the "Monster" is 4" wide with a whopping 200lbs. of resistance to push and pull against.

Again, for an inexpensive and effective addition to the home gym, commercial gym or to take on a trip, these are hard to beat. The price ranges from $12 to $70 dollars, and they average a weight of 1-2 pounds.

They are effective when used properly, and believe it or not, they are a lot of fun too!


Did you know?

Resistance bands are widely used by serious power lifters, professional and collegiate athletes. At Westside Barbell, a gym known for turning out record breaking lift totals, flat bands are used for several lifts. Specifically, these thick bands get attached to the bars or the power rack for bench presses, military presses and squats; or to the floor for deadlifts.

This use of elastic resistance combined with free weights in this manner has been proven to enhance peak force and power output. In fact, a study done at the University of Wisconsin-Lacrosse confirmed this and concluded that the trainee derived the greatest benefits by using an 80% to 20% free weight to resistance band ratio.


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    • MosLadder profile image

      Chris Montgomery 7 years ago from Irvine, CA


    • jdavis88 profile image

      Joseph Davis 7 years ago from Florida

      Good hub! That was a lot of info. Good research.