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The best resistance bands for workouts

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Best resistance bands
(Image credit: TJ Fink/Tom's Guide)

The best resistance bands can give you a serious workout, without even having to go near the weight room in the gym. These slender, seemingly simple sleeves of elastic can help you build lean muscle and increase overall mobility. They look unassuming, but they sit amongst the best home gym equipment you can get.

Don't believe us? Let's look at the science - a study in the Journal of Sports Science & Medicine found that just five weeks of resistance band training significantly improved hamstring and inner thigh flexibility. For those recovering from injury, or looking for a lower-impact workout, resistance bands are also way easier on the joints than dumbbells or kettlebells. 

Resistance bands come in a variety of lengths, strengths, and sizes, allowing you to customize your workout. They’re light and portable, so you can easily toss them into a backpack while traveling to and from the gym, plus, they also take up less space than other bulky gym gear, which is perfect if you live in an apartment (particularly a higher floor).

What are the best resistance bands? 

Our top choice among the best resistance bands we tested is the Bodylastics Resistance Bands kit, which comes with five tubes made extra-tough by reinforced stitching and an internal cord. A suite of attachments, including a door anchor and carrying bag, round out the versatility and flexibility of this all-in-one set. The stackable, anti-snappable bands are built to last, and the grippy handles will keep your next arm day from getting...err, out of hand. 

If you need joint-friendly resistance bands for physical therapy of any kind, TheraBand has been trusted by medical professionals for years, and for good reason. They’re also latex-free, which is good news for anyone with that particular allergy. 

For the whole kit and kaboodle, look no further than the BodyBoss 2.0 portable gym package. The tension levels of these bands are on the lower side, but the sheer diversity of what you can do with BodyBoss 2.0 (and the accompanying website) makes it worth the investment. For jetsetting fitness enthusiasts, it’s a great way to keep active when you’re on the go. 

The best resistance bands right now

Best resistance bands: Bodylastics

(Image credit: TJ Fink/Tom's Guide)

1. Bodylastics Resistance Bands

Best resistance band overall

Specifications
Number of bands: 5-14
Other accessories: handles (2 to 6), ankle straps (2 to 6), door anchor (1 to 2), carrying bag
Tension range: 3-19 pounds (96 pounds total) to 3-30 pounds (404 pounds total)
Material: Latex
Reasons to buy
+Comes with a variety of attachments +Internal cord to prevent breakage +Wide range of resistance 
Reasons to avoid
-Exercises in booklet supplied are limited 

The best resistance bands for full-body fitness are the Bodylastics resistance bands. This kit has it all: in addition to the exercise bands themselves, it comes with a variety of useful attachments, including handles, ankle straps and a door anchor. The durable, anti-snap latex bands range in resistance from 3 to 30 pounds, and can be used together for a total resistance of 404 pounds, depending on which kit you buy. Each latex tube features an internal cord to guard against breakage, which should bring some peace of mind for unexpected (and painful!) snapping. 

Everything comes in a tidy carrying pouch; the whole package weighs less than 5 pounds total, and it’s easy to toss the kit in a backpack, lickety-split. Inside, you’ll find the anti-snap resistance bands (ranging from 3 to 30 pounds of resistance each), clippable handles, ankle straps, a door anchor, an “anywhere anchor,” and a surprisingly robust instructional book. In addition to the Max Tension kit we tested, Bodylastics sells three other versions of these bands. The entry-level kit can only simulate 96 total pounds of resistance, whereas the “Mega” version nets you a massive 404 pounds of resistance; it also comes with four extra handles and ankle straps, making it ideal for group workouts.  

The handles are well-sized and perfectly grippy; it was easy to hang on to them throughout every exercise, even when my hands were a little sweaty. The unique O-Ring design for each carabiner clip doesn’t get caught in the nylon webbing, which is a welcome change from cheaper bands I’ve used in the past. The best thing about these bands, in my opinion, is the patented anti-snap technology, designed to prevent overstretching and snapping during those more intense workouts; in the case of any nasty snaps, the internal cord prevents that dreaded “whipping” effect across your body or face. (You can literally put an eye out with cheaper brands if you’re not careful.) In my testing, each band felt strong as hell, and I never felt unsafe while stacking up the resistance levels. The ankle straps are comfortably padded, too.

Whether you’re a casual athlete or hardcore Spartan competitor, these are the best resistance bands you can get today, and you won’t be disappointed with any of the kits Bodylastics has to offer. The included instruction booklet is an extra perk for beginners, since it shows you how to properly use the bands, ankle straps, and anchors; there are even 34 exercises included, and the step-by-step diagrams are pretty useful. Bonus: Bodylastics has a pretty robust YouTube station to complement its resistance band kits.

Best resistance bands: TheraBand

(Image credit: TJ Fink/Future)

2. TheraBand Professional Non-Latex Resistance Bands Set

Best non-latex resistance bands

Specifications
Number of bands: 3
Other accessories: None
Tension range: 3.7-6.7 pounds
Material: Synthetic rubber
Reasons to buy
+Non-latex design +4-inch bands comfortable against the skin+Slip-proof
Reasons to avoid
-No extra accessories 

Many of the best resistance bands are made of natural rubber latex, but some people have sensitivity to the material. TheraBand’s trio of synthetic rubber bands help those with allergies avoid hives or anaphylactic shock. The sturdy loops are ideal for physical therapy, strengthening and stretching, especially when rehabbing after an injury. 

Similar to many other resistance bands on this list, TheraBand doesn’t bundle its bands with any extra accessories, save for one paltry pamphlet, which at least includes a few sample exercises you can do with them. Unlike the other non-loop bands, however, there are no handles (or carabiner clips) on either end to grab on to; you can either wrap the resistance bands around your body as you grip them, or tie them off into customizable sizes. 

The beginner set we tested comes with three different bands (respectively rated at 4.3, 3.7, and 6.7 pounds of resistance each), but the advanced set ups the ante to 8.5, 10.2, and 15.3 pounds of resistance. Heck, it’d cost less than $50 to spring for both sets, which makes these resistance bands a damn good value, too. And while they look modest, TheraBands are the perfect addition to any home gym; they’re more versatile than you’d expect.   

At 4 inches wide, these bands were extremely comfortable to wrap around my limbs for various stretches and upper body exercises. (If you use them while doing yoga, you’ll feel like an aerial silk performer as you flow from one pose to the next. I did, anyway.) The latex-free rubber is grippy and soft, and it resisted slippage to a surprising degree as I rearranged my grip between sets. 

How good are the TheraBands? I’ve had a couple of knee surgeries, and can attest that without exception, every single physical therapist I’ve ever worked with (or been worked on by) had a pile of TheraBands on hand for my post-surgery sessions. 

Best resistance bands: Bodyboss

(Image credit: TJ Fink/Tom's Guide)

3. BodyBoss 2.0 Full Portable Home Gym Workout Package + Resistance Bands

Best all-in-one resistance band kit

Specifications
Number of bands: 2
Other accessories: 2 handles, 2 ankle straps, 2 wrist straps, 1 door anchor clip, 1 foreign anchor clip
Tension range: 5-28 pounds
Material: N/A
Reasons to buy
+Whole workout package+Comes with workout manual 
Reasons to avoid
-Range of resistance won't be for everyone

It’s time to kick things up a notch. As the name implies, the BodyBoss 2.0 isn’t technically a resistance band: it’s a whole workout package. Designed to simulate thousands of dollars worth of gym equipment within one (literally) portable platform, it’s touted as “the world’s first home gym you can take anywhere.” Whether you’re looking for an upper- or lower-body workout, this gym buddy can allegedly replace that whole set of bulky, expensive dumbbells that’s taking up space in your garage. Not to mention the accompanying rack you’d need to hold them.   

Of all the resistance band kits I’ve tested, this one is absolutely the most comprehensive, and the BodyBoss 2.0 starts living up to its name right out of the box. The whole package includes a foldable base (with retractable anchors for the resistance bands, which simulate 0 to 30 pounds each); two to four resistance bands (depending on which kit you purchase); two handles; two wrist/ankle straps (for cardio boxing); a door anchor; and a workout bar. The base is a matte black, but you can choose from a variety of accent colors when you purchase, such as blue, lime green, orange, purple, or red. 

But that’s not all. In addition to the necessary hardware — which feels rock-solid, by the way — BodyBoss bundles its kit with a training journal, setup guide, and surprisingly robust workout manual (complete with color photo diagrams for each exercise). 

And there’s more. If you go to www.clubbodyboss.com, you can create your own customized training program to complement your new gym gear. The free version of this club lets you access a variety of useful training videos, but for $4.99 per month, the Plus membership includes live broadcasts, interactive group sessions, and access to the BodyBoss team of personal trainers. 

I had a great time doing shrugs, bicep curls, squats, and more as I tried out my new fitness toy. In short, it works precisely as advertised. The BodyBoss 2.0 is a fantastic fitness tool to have at home; when utilized properly, the whole package really does represent a one-stop shop for personal fitness, and it truly allows you to hit up every single muscle group at will, simply by recalibrating the accompanying bar, straps, and handles. Transitioning from one exercise to the next is easy enough too, once you get the hang of it. 

The tension levels for these bands aren’t meant for powerlifters, but they’ll get the job done for most active adults. The BodyBoss 2.0 is also my new best friend for any running-based HIIT workouts; I love having it within sight of my treadmill, just in case extra motivation strikes. For casual athletes who are always on the move, there’s an awful lot to like about BodyBoss 2.0. The one catch is that the BodyBoss 2.0 costs $180, a lot more than most other resistance band kits.

Best resistance bands: FitSimplify

(Image credit: TJ Fink/Tom's Guide)

4. Fit Simplify Resistance Loop Exercise Bands

Best resistance bands for those on a budget

Specifications
Number of bands: 5
Other accessories: Carrying bag
Tension range: 2-30 pounds
Material: Latex
Reasons to buy
+Lightweight and extremely portable +Simple, easy to understand resistance rating 
Reasons to avoid
-They won't last forever - each band only rated for 9000 stretches -Not suitable for anyone with a latex allergy 

While most resistance bands are generally affordable, Fit Simplify’s best-selling set is almost shockingly inexpensive. The five loops range from “extra-light” to “extra-heavy” resistance and are made from heavy-duty, tear-free latex. Stash them in the accompanying bag for on-the-go strength-training exercises wherever your feet may take you.

Not everyone needs resistance bands for hardcore strength training, and the Fit Simplify Resistance Loop Exercise Bands are simply great for anyone looking to add a little more resistance to their HIIT routine. (They’re ideal for at-home physical therapy, too.) We appreciated the simplicity: each package consists of just five resistance bands (available in multicolor, berry, or pink) in a nylon pouch; a short “use and maintenance” pamphlet is also included. 

Be warned: these bands are built to (eventually) fail. According to the pamphlet, each band is rated for 9,000 individual stretches with normal use. That being said, they don’t feel particularly cheap. In our testing, each band was pleasantly stretchy as we used them for vertical and horizontal arm extensions; they remind us of cheaper resistance bands we’ve been given by physical therapists in the past.  

You get what you pay for, and that’s not a bad thing with these super-simple bands. They won’t last forever, but they'll get the job done on the cheap.

Best resistance bands: Perform Better

(Image credit: TJ Fink/Tom's Guide)

5. Perform Better Mini Band Resistance Loop Exercise Bands

Best mini resistance bands

Specifications
Number of bands: 4
Other accessories: None
Tension range: Unknown
Material: Latex
Reasons to buy
+Easy to understand loops +Comfortable to use 
Reasons to avoid
-Won't be large enough for all users -No carry pouch-Not suitable for anyone with a latex allergy 

Mini bands are often used for physical therapy, but can also be helpful if you’re traveling and don’t want to take up too much space. The Perform Better Mini Band set comes with four loops ranging from “light” to “extra heavy.” (The tension range isn’t listed, but is likely in the 3 to 30-pound range.) They measure just 9 inches in diameter, which ensures immediate tension, though larger-limbed people may find using them to be a bit intense.

Like the Fit Simplify bands above, the Perform Better Mini Band Resistance Loop Exercise Bands don’t have any standout features in the design department. You’ll get four light- to extra heavy-resistance 9 x 2-inch bands, a single-page exercise pamphlet, and that’s it. A carrying pouch of some kind would have been nice, since these bands are easy to mistake for errant socks if they get tossed around with any nearby laundry. 

The bands’ tighter diameter does indeed put you to work right away. If you need more range for lankier arms and legs, the Fit Simplify bands might be a better choice. (Otherwise, they feel pretty much the same during use, comfort-wise.) Nevertheless, we don’t really have much to complain about here. If your resistance band needs are modest, or you need them for physical therapy, these ones should fill the bill. Especially for shorter folks with smaller arms. 

Best resistance bands: Serious Steel

(Image credit: TJ Fink/Tom's Guide)

6. Serious Steel Heavy Duty Resistance Band Set

The best superbands are tough to beat

Specifications
Number of bands: 6
Other accessories: None
Tension range: 2-150 pounds
Material: Latex
Reasons to buy
+Feel extremely strong +Can buy in bundles
Reasons to avoid
-No accessories or instructions-Not suitable for anyone with a latex allergy 

Now we’re cooking with oil. Serious Steel’s Heavy Duty Resistance Bands come in six different varieties, and they’re made with fused latex sheets for dead-serious tensile strength. The strongest band can withstand 150 pounds of tension, adding some extra “oomph” to those pull-ups, squats, deadlifts and leg presses. (The lower-level bands are fantastic for warm-ups and stretches, too.)

One look at the Serious Steel Heavy Duty Resistance Band Set, and I knew this company was playing for keeps. I tested out their two-band set that includes one 5 to 25-pound band, and one 10 to 50-pound band. Serious Steel offers six different bands in total, and bundles them in packs of two, three, four, and six. You don’t get any extra accessories or instructions with these resistance bands, but that’s because they’re marketed to people who already know what to do with them. Personally, I appreciate all the customization here, because everyone has different fitness goals and needs. 

There’s a reason the company founders went with the name Serious Steel with these bands: they feel damn near indestructible. I used them on my power tower for a few sets of assisted pull-ups, and never once felt I was in danger of sudden snappage. The bands also added some challenging resistance to my pushup routine, and the more I used them, the more I wondered why I didn’t already own a full set. 

Best resistance bands: Black Mountain

(Image credit: TJ Fink/Tom's Guide)

7. Black Mountain Products Resistance Band Set

The best value for stackable bands

Specifications
Number of bands: 2
Other accessories: 2 handles, 2 ankle straps, 2 wrist straps, 1 door anchor clip, 1 foreign anchor clip
Tension range: 5-28 pounds
Material: Unknown
Reasons to buy
+Can stack different resistance bands for more tension+Comes with extras 
Reasons to avoid
-Clips catch on bands when changing handles 

Utilizing a proprietary blend of synthetic and natural rubber, Black Mountain Products features commercial-grade grommets on their resistance bands, combined with durable nylon and double stitching on all seams. The metal clipping system makes these stackable bands easy to swap out the handles, which are grippy and built for comfort. 

I was pleased to find that the whole kit comes with its own carrying pouch to house the included bands (five total, ranging between 2 and 30 pounds of resistance each), two handles, an ankle strap, a door anchor, and a handy starter guide, which outlines how to stack multiple bands on the handles for increased overall resistance. (For example, combining the red and black bands at once equates to roughly 40 to 50 pounds of total resistance.) All in all, that’s plenty of bang for your buck.

As of this writing, there were more than 11,000 Amazon reviews for these particular bands, adding up to an average rating of 4.6 stars. After using them for a few sets of bicep curls, chest presses, and lateral arm raises, I had no gripes about the handle grips or overall tensile strength for various band combinations. The carabiner clips do occasionally catch the nylon straps as you swap the bands out, though, which is annoying at worst. For a basic set of bands that won’t break the bank, these’ll do the trick.

Resistance bands: SPRI Braided Xertube

(Image credit: TJ Fink/Tom's Guide)

8. SPRI Braided Xertube Resistance Band Exercise Cords

The best premium resistance band (with a unique twist)

Specifications
Number of bands: 5
Other accessories: None
Tension range: 12.5-62.5 pounds
Material: Rubber
Reasons to buy
+Lightweight +Durable and strong +Padded handle is comfortable 
Reasons to avoid
-No extras or carry pouch

And now for something a little different. Unlike every other resistance band on this list, which are essentially designed like oversized rubber bands, each SPRI Braided Xertube is composed of four separate bands braided together like a rope. They’re lightweight, super durable, and easy to toss into a gym bag as you head out the door. The Tuff-Tube rubber is designed to take plenty of abuse, resisting abrasion and tears as you plow through your next arm day; according to the company, these are the toughest tubes on the market.

For nearly $30 per band, they darn well should be. While SPRI does offer a variety of resistance band kits, the Xertube design gets the premium treatment (i.e., they’re sold separately, one band at a time). That being said, SPRI does offer a plethora of other useful gym gear to complement its bands, and after test-driving the Xertubes, I’d be willing to bet their other equipment is worth the extra spend. 

As advertised, the SPRI Xertube bands are supremely lightweight, but you can literally see how strong they are. The unique braided design is as functional as it is attractive, and as I shuffled the Xertube around with all the other bands on this list, I couldn’t help but notice how tangle-free it was in comparison to all the others. The padded handle is grippy and comfortable, and the handle moves along the nylon strap as you move. Rated for roughly 50 pounds of tension, my Level 4 band was ideal for anchored chest presses, bicep curls, and even assisted pull-ups (if you slip your feet through the handles, like boot straps). There’s a satisfying stretchiness to every rep, and no danger of snapping whatsoever.

Bottom line: They’re on the expensive side, but these resistance bands bring a unique brand of durability to the table. 

Best resistance bands: Hyfit Gear 1

(Image credit: Hyfit)

9. Hyfit Gear 1 Smart Home Gym System

Peloton, meet your resistance band cousin

Specifications
Number of bands: 2
Other accessories: 2 handles, 2 ankle straps, 2 wrist straps, 1 door anchor clip, 1 foreign anchor clip
Tension range: 5-28 pounds
Material: Unknown
Reasons to buy
+Inbuilt Bluetooth sensors connect to an app for interactive workouts +Easy to see progress 
Reasons to avoid
-App subscription starts at $15 per month

Wearables have become a hot commodity in recent years, and Hyfit Gear 1 purports to be the first-ever smart strength-training resistance band. It comes with built-in Bluetooth sensors that connect to an app (available on both iOS and Android) to track repetitions, duration, force and calories burned. The adjustable bands are built to last, while the included accessories allow for myriad workout variations. Anchor the bands to utilize your full bodyweight, or loop them around your ankles to add extra tension to your squats.

The Hyfit Gear 1 is fairly new to market, but it’s gaining traction in the fitness sector, and we’re always interested in proper synergy between fitness and tech. (Judging from the company website, the Hyfit Gear 1 looks like the Peloton of resistance bands, complete with a monthly subscription.) We’ll keep our eyes on this brand from afar. For now.

How to choose the best resistance bands for you

When deciding on which resistance bands you should get, price is usually a good place to start. Some hardcore resistance band kits cost upwards of $100, but you can get a decent set for less than $30. Personal fitness should never break the bank, especially when it comes to basic gym accessories at the beginner level. Nevertheless, you get what you pay for, and poor band construction is an eyeball injury waiting to happen; a crappy band is liable to snap when you least expect it, so consider this fair warning

As the name implies, these dead-simple gym accessories can add an extra challenge to various exercises; when leveraged properly, they can also provide assistance for more challenging exercises. (Such as pull-ups, for example; depending on your BMI and entirely subjective upper-body strength, this tried-and-true exercise can be brutal as hell for the uninitiated.)

Resistance bands come in several basic styles, such as individual tubes, heavy duty superbands, and mini bands; the best bands all depend on what you need them for. 

Superbands are just what they sound like: giant rubber bands that instantly up the ante for any upper-body circuit training. Mini bands, on the other hand, are much smaller, making them useful for physical therapy or just stretching out an achy limb. Tube-style bands have handles, and they’re super for bicep curls, shoulder presses, lateral arm raises, and much more; the best bands are often stackable, so you can use multiple bands to max out your total tension. In essence, your resistance band workout is only limited by your imagination.

One more thing: Most resistance bands are made out of latex or rubber, so keep an eye out for allergy-free materials if your skin is sensitive to the former. 

How we tested the best resistance bands

To see which are the best resistance bands, we performed a number of exercises, varying them based on the type of band we were testing. 

For the mini bands on this list (i.e., the ones without any handles), we used one medium-tension band from each brand to perform two sets (10 reps each) of lateral arm raises, in addition to one set (10 reps each) of lateral walks with a lower-tension band. 

For any tube-style bands (i.e., the ones with handles), we used them for two sets (10 reps each) of bicep curls and two sets (10 reps each) of chest presses

We put the superbands through the same paces as the tubes, in addition to one set (10 reps each) of assisted pull-ups and another of resisted standard push-ups.

The methodology for testing these bands is by no means an exact science, but every body has a different fitness journey, and these things are built for adaptability. At least, they should be. 


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