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Resistance bands are one of the simplest fitness products you can buy — so why are there so many of them to choose from? Does it really matter which one you buy?
While we’re not going to tell you that buying the wrong resistance band can ruin your life, there is definitely a noticeable difference between a high-quality band and a piece of junk. Trust us on that — we looked at 34 different resistance bands to make this list, and there was a lot of junk mixed in there. Luckily, we also found some great options, including our favorite, the Fit Simplify.
If you want to improve your workouts at home or on the road, resistance bands are a versatile, inexpensive way to do it — assuming you get a good one, that is. You could take your chances with buying the first one you come across, or you could look at our top picks below and get yourself one of the best.
1. Fit Simplify Resistance Loop Exercise Bands — Best Exercise Band for Women
This set is versatile without being complicated, and it’s well-made enough to last for years
You get 5 different bands in this set from Fit Simplify, each of which is 12” x 2”. They each offer a different amount of resistance, and the bands are helpfully labeled accordingly (they range from “X-Light” to “X-Heavy”).
The manufacturers clearly realize that, while many women will use these at home, plenty of others will be taking them to the gym or an exercise class. As a result, they include a helpful carrying bag that allows you to tote them along easily without losing any along the way.
Each band is made of heavy-duty rubber, and even the ones offering lighter resistance are plenty durable. They can certainly stand up to some abuse during a workout, and if you manage to snap one, you can safely stop training (then again, if you snap one of these babies, you should probably look in the mirror to make sure you haven’t turned into a green, jorts-wearing giant).
If you’ve heard that resistance bands are a great way to exercise but you’re not sure what to actually do with them, don’t worry — they come with a helpful instruction booklet. This booklet doesn’t contain any top-secret muscle building strategies (and you can probably find better information on the internet), but it’s a nice starting-off point for newbies.
There are three different color palettes to choose from, and they lean heavily into pink hues, just in case you forgot that they were marketed towards women. This won’t help your workout at all, of course, but at least it gives you some options.
The biggest issue we found with these bands is that they occasionally roll in on themselves, especially during a high-intensity workout. This isn’t a safety issue, nor will it impact the quality of your workout, but it does make the bands uncomfortable to wear until you can roll them up again. That’s mostly an issue if they’re on bare skin, though, so if you put them over your clothes you should be fine.
You should also be aware that the bands contain latex, so if you have an allergy, you should look for an alternative.
What I Liked
- Extremely strong and durable
- Good variety of resistance levels
- Includes carrying bag
- Different colors to choose from
- Comes with instruction booklet to help you get started
What I Didn’t Like
- Bands have a tendency to roll up in the middle of high-intensity exercises
- Not suitable for users with a latex allergy
2. TheFitLife Exercise Resistance Bands with Handles — Best Travel Resistance Bands
This easy-to-pack system is like having your own personal gym with you on the road
This set from TheFitLife isn’t just a collection of random bands — it’s an entire resistance training system.
The bands are thin yet durable, and that allows you to stack them if you really want to challenge yourself. You can supposedly get up to 150 pounds of resistance by using all of them together, but you can also mix and match them to reach a variety of other resistance levels as well.
Even at the highest setting, though, the bands feel a little lighter than the resistance would indicate. As a result, they’re great for toning up, but don’t expect to add a lot of strength.
The handles are a true godsend. They’re large enough to accommodate just about any hand size (including male hands, if you plan on sharing the set), and the padded grip is easy on your mitts.
Working out your legs is as easy as training your upper body, as the set includes ankle straps for exercises like kickbacks. You can adjust those ankle straps to fit your legs perfectly, ensuring that they won’t ride up or down your legs, causing irritation along the way. It also comes with a door anchor, which gives you even more options in terms of exercises.
All of this makes the set perfect for anyone who spends lots of time on the road. The bands are small and easy to pack, but they allow you to get in a serious workout from a motel room (without breaking anything along the way).
Unlike many resistance bands, this set is perfect for larger users. The fabric has been cross-stitched for added durability, and the included carabiner can support up to 260 pounds, which is better than most of the competition.
For some reason, though, these things have a very powerful odor that takes some time to go away. It can spread to your hands as well, and it will take quite a bit of scrubbing to get it off.
What I Liked
- Can get up to 150 pounds of resistance
- Handles are large and comfortable
- Good for lower-body workouts
- Heavy-duty set can accommodate larger users
- Easy to pack for workouts on the road
What I Didn’t Like
- Not ideal for adding strength
- Set has a strong odor
3. Renoj Booty Bands — Best Resistance Band for Glutes
If you want a drool-worthy posterior, this is the band to get — just don’t expect a total-body workout from it
Resistance bands are great for working out all your muscle groups — but, let’s face it, some groups are more important than others. The Renoj Booty Bands are perfect for working out the most, ahem, visible of all your muscles.
There are three bands in the set (for light, medium, and heavy resistance), and each is designed to slip over your legs and hips to challenge your glutes.
The material is non-slip, so they should stay in place even if you get drenched in sweat. The fabric doesn’t roll or scrape against your skin either, and it won’t slide around if you wear them over yoga pants. Each band is very wide to boot (to booty?), which really helps improve the comfort level by distributing the force over a larger area.
Not only are these things wide, but they’re thick as well. That extra fabric adds to the durability, and they shouldn’t stretch or snap, even if your butt reaches J. Lo levels. The fact that they’re made of fabric makes them suitable for users with sensitive skin, and while that also means they’ll soak up a lot of sweat and grime, the good news is that they can be washed.
These bands are extremely affordable, so you can build up your butt on the cheap. However, that low price is probably due in part to the fact that these things are only suitable for lower-body use. If you want to tone your arms, stomach, or chest, you’ll need to buy different bands.
You’ll get quite a bit of resistance from these things — so much so, in fact, that beginners might find them off-putting. It took several workouts before I was able to get a comfortable stretch from them, and if you don’t have a lot of muscle tone in your lower body, you might feel overmatched.
What I Liked
- Perfect for sculpting lower body
- Material won’t slide around or roll up on you
- Thick material adds durability
- Made of fabric, which makes them less likely to irritate skin
- Can be washed when they get dirty
What I Didn’t Like
- May be too difficult for beginners
- Can only be used on lower body
4. HPYGN Resistance Bands — Best Exercise Bands for Flexibility
The unique design on these resistance bands allows you to really improve your range of motion
The HPYGN Resistance Bands aren’t closed loops; rather, they’re more like resistance towels than anything. While this might seem strange at first, it can make for a much more comfortable exercising experience.
You don’t have to stuff your body parts inside an oversized rubber band, which makes it much less likely that you’ll experience skin irritation. They’re very long as well (each one is 5’ x 6”), allowing you to get excellent range of motion in every exercise.
This can help you build flexibility in addition to strength. For example, you can loop them around your foot to help with hamstring stretches or use them to get a deeper shoulder stretch. This makes them a wonderful addition to a yoga or Pilates practice.
Because there’s not a closed loop on the band, the resistance is endlessly customizable. If you want a harder workout, simply choke up on the band; if you need a break, all you have to do is let out a little slack. Each of the three bands does offer a different amount of resistance, but you can get quite a bit of variety from a single one.
However, if you’re really tall, you might not be able to get the same amount of customization that shorter people can get. Even at 5 feet long, you’ll run out of fabric eventually, especially if you’re doing complex routines like a barre workout.
They don’t have any latex inside, making them suitable for use by people with allergies, and they’re completely odor-free (well, they’re odor-free until you start working out with them, at least).
If you’re not experienced with resistance bands, having an open loop may make things more difficult at first. You may not know how much resistance to use, and certain exercises will be harder to pull off when you have to be concerned with your grip. Once you get the hang of them, though, you’ll likely find that they’re every bit as good as their more traditional counterparts.
What I Liked
- Open loop-design allows for endless customization
- Great for building flexibility
- Not likely to irritate skin
- Latex- and odor-free
- Perfect for yoga and Pilates routines
What I Didn’t Like
- Not ideal for taller users
- May have a bit of a learning curve
5. RitFit Single Resistance Exercise Band — Most Easy-to-Use Resistance Band
This band from RitFit isn’t as versatile as some of the other options on this list, a fact that works both for and against it
Every other option on this list contains multiple bands, and some are complex systems that come with several resistance levels, a variety of hardware, and require an advanced engineering degree to operate. The RitFit, on the other hand, is as simple as it gets, as it’s a single, 4-foot band with large handles.
This means that there’s only one resistance level to work with, so you’ll have to buy a few different bands if you want to switch up your workout. If you go that route, it will drive up the cost significantly, but it’s not necessary for many users.
The single band setup makes it extremely attractive to people who are using it for physical therapy. You can just get whichever resistance level you need and have it readily at hand, allowing you to pick it up whenever you want to gently strengthen your affected area. It has just enough give to it to improve flexibility as well.
That’s also nice for anyone who wants a simple workout without having to sort through multiple bands to find the desired resistance level. There’s less clutter to deal with as well. It’s not going to replace your home gym anytime soon, but if you’re just looking to build a little strength or improve your range of motion, it may be all you need.
Serious gym rats will likely need something a bit more involved (or they’ll need to buy several of these bands), however. Don’t expect to get rippling muscles or a six-pack from this thing, but you can definitely build some muscle tone or use it to limber up before working out in earnest.
It comes with a door attachment to give you the ability to add more exercises to your repertoire, and the attachment is covered in foam to keep it from marring the wood.
What I Liked
- Simple and easy to use
- Less clutter than more involved systems
- Excellent for physical therapy
- Includes foam-covered door attachment
What I Didn’t Like
- Not challenging enough for serious gym rats
- Expensive if you’re looking to buy multiple bands
What We Looked for in the Best Resistance Bands for Women
Anyone who’s spent a lot of time working out with resistance bands can tell you that they’re not all created equal — and if you’ve ever had one snap on you, then you know first-hand just how important it is to find a high-quality band.
When assembling our reviews, we looked at a few important considerations in order to separate the wheat from the chaff. There aren’t many features to compare in resistance bands, but to make the list, each model had to meet the following criteria:
-Durable enough to withstand regular use without snapping
-Reliable resistance levels that allow you to enjoy consistent workouts
-Comfortable design that won’t irritate skin
How to Choose the Right Resistance Bands for Women
Resistance bands aren’t very complex or expensive pieces of gear, but there are still a few things you should look for before you make a purchase. Our top pick, the Fit Simplify, excelled in each of these categories, but after doing your research you might find that another option is better for your needs.
The last thing you want is for your resistance band to tear or snap in the middle of an exercise. Not only will this reduce the bang you get for your buck, but it could possibly be dangerous.
As Isaac Newton learned when his resistance band snapped on him, for every action there’s an equal and opposite reaction — so if that band snaps, part of it could fly at your face at a very high speed. Many of these systems use steel attachments as well, so if one of those hits your eye, you could end up enjoying an unscheduled visit to the emergency room.
Look for a band that’s thick enough to withstand regular use, even if it’s designed to offer lightweight resistance. Also, if you notice lots of wear and tear on your band, replace it immediately (it’s cheaper than replacing an eye, after all).
If your mantra is “no pain, no gain,” then there are some resistance bands out there that you’ll absolutely love. Certain models will rub your skin raw, pull out hair, or simply ride up into places that they have no business being.
Not only is this painful and irritating, it can reduce your motivation to work out. A comfortable band, on the other hand, will allow you to get a good workout without having to suffer for it — and that will keep you coming back for more.
Variety isn’t a necessity, per se. You may find that all you need is a single band (like the RitFit) to accomplish all your fitness or physical therapy goals, and that’s totally fine.
For many people, though, having a variety of resistance levels is extremely important. Not all of your parts are equally strong, after all, and your glutes may need more of a challenge than your triceps.
Some bands also come with accessories like door attachments or ankle straps that allow you to do more exercises than you could with the bands alone.
Being able to change things up will also keep your workouts fresh and interesting. We can’t promise they’ll be fun, but at least you won’t be stuck doing the same-old same-old every time.
Gyms can be intimidating places, and you may not have the slightest clue what to do with some of the machines there. That’s one of the major appeals of resistance bands — they’re very simple and easy to use.
That doesn’t mean they’re all equally simple, though. One of the biggest differences in certain bands is how they demonstrate the various resistance levels. Some are color-coded, allowing you to find the band you need in seconds, while others merely write the resistance level in a subtle script that forces you to stop and put your reading glasses on.
Also, some of the resistance band systems require a bit of setup before you can get started. If you don’t want to deal with adding things to your door or strapping things to various body parts, then the simplest bands will allow you to get up and working out with as little fuss and muss as possible.
Picking out a resistance band isn’t likely to be the most momentous decision of your life. That doesn’t mean you shouldn’t put some thought into it. Look for one that’s durable, versatile, and simple — like our favorite, the Fit Simplify.
Your home gym won’t be truly complete without an excellent resistance band (or five), and the options on this list will all help you reach your fitness goals as soon as possible.
Best of all, though, these things are great for thwacking people with when they make you mad.