When it comes to building a home gym, resistance bands give you the best bang for your buck more than any other exercise equipment. You can use bands for warming up, building muscle, and assisting with stretching and cooling down.
They’re a fraction of the price of a traditional set of weights and give you plenty of options, which can lead to confusion when it comes to determining which band to use for your workout of choice.
We’ll walk you through the most commonly used types of bands and levels of resistance so that you can choose the right band for the results you’re looking to achieve.
Types of Bands
There are quite a few styles of resistance bands available on the market. First, you’ll want to choose the band that will best suit the type of activity you’re looking to do.
- Booty bands/mini bands. These bands are small looped bands, primarily used to perform killer lower body exercises (think hips and glute activation), like squats, clamshells, and donkey kicks. They are also great for upper body exercises, warm-ups, and mobility exercises.
- Handled tube resistance bands. These bands have a handle on each end and mimic the grip used for dumbbell or barbell exercises. For that reason, they’re great for upper body exercises, like chest presses and curls. They are also commonly used for injury rehab.
- Pull-up assist bands. These are large, looped bands of varying resistances. They can be used to help support pull-up exercises, but they don’t stop there. These bands are great for working out the massive muscle groups down small muscle groups and mobility exercises, depending on the resistance level.
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Made for the lightest level of resistance, these bands offer slightly more resistance than bodyweight alone.
These bands are fantastic for toning smaller muscle groups, like stabilizers that help support your hips and shoulders. They’re used for jumping exercises, very light pull-up assistance, and adding a little extra resistance to barbell exercises, like presses and squats.
Stretching and mobility exercises can be assisted with a light band to allow for a deep body stretch.
Light resistance bands are used for rehabilitating injuries – they provide a little bit of resistance to go a long way toward strengthening an injured joint or muscle while being gentle enough to avoid further damage.
The medium resistance band is a nice, middle of the road band that you can use to perform most exercises. They can still help tone smaller muscle groups and medium-sized muscle groups, medium pull-up assistance, and adding medium extra resistance barbell exercises.
They can also assist stretches and mobility exercises.
A medium band is excellent for weight resistance moves like squats, lunges, curls, shoulder presses, and more! This band might not provide enough resistance for intermediate or advanced lifters, so it’s best for beginner lifters and smaller muscle groups like arms/shoulders.
You’ll see the heavy band most commonly used in most gyms for weightlifting exercise. They are great for full-body practices and lower body moves like squats.
They can be be used for assisted pull-ups, as they support a decent amount of bodyweight for beginners just starting to build up their pull-up strength.
For advanced lifters, you can also use these bands for small muscle group training.
These bands are the real deal – they’re super healthy and provide a ton of resistance. Unless you’re an advanced weightlifter with a heavy body type, we recommend staying away from these bands until you’ve had some practice and strength training with the lighter ones.
These bands are best left to broad muscle group training, as they are better able to take the stress and load of the extra-heavy band. Lower body exercises are a great option here.
They can assist pull-ups for beginners who don’t have much strength to support their bodies.
The best band will depend on the workout at hand.
For mobility, warm-up exercises, and muscle rehab, stick to a light resistance band.
A medium band is a terrific option for beginning lifters, medium-sized muscle groups, and more aggressive mobility work.
A heavy band is best for weight-bearing exercises for intermediate lifters, while extra-heavy bands are best for those advanced lifters looking to further strength gains and muscle progression.