Resistance Bands vs Recovery Bands – Qualities, Examples, Potential

I have seen on several forums that members find it hard to differentiate between the resistance bands and recovery bands. Often, the band lovers associate resistance bands and recovery bands with wrong types of resistance bands.


So, I decided to unfold the actual relevance of resistance bands and recovery bands when it comes to personal fitness goals of an individual.

I shall explain the potential of resistance & recovery bands and the realistic fitness goals we can accomplish from both.


So, how do we differentiate between the resistance bands and recovery bands? The resistance bands are workout bands which are molded into a more practical shape and may include attachable accessories for the ease of doing resistance exercises. In contrast, the recovery bands are usually a simple long and wide rubber sheets with much lesser resistance. The resistance bands can be used for strength training and sport-specific improvements in the body. In contrast, the recovery bands are meant only for warm-up, toning, and intense stretching routines.

But, how do we choose a recovery band and what are its types. What are the qualities I should be looking for in recovery bands and resistance bands? Aren’t resistance bands and recovery bands the same thing?

I have provided answers to all the above questions in the rest of this article.


❝ Hi, I am Ravi, your companion, and a passionate fitness athlete, cyclist, runner, gym enthusiast who just loves the concept of resistance bands for their extreme flexibility. I have been using resistance bands as one of my primary fitness equipment for the last many years ❞


Let’s begin –


How do we define a resistance band and recovery band to a colleague?

Let us come back to the basics.

What, a band means? A band can be a rubber band that can be stretched to a certain length without losing its elasticity. 

Every stretchable band tries to return to its original shape. If we prevent the band from coming back to the original form, it resists our action.

That means the resistance band and recovery bands can be classified as subcategories under the term “BAND.”

 The recovery bands are itself a resistance band, and the resistance band can be a recovery band. In simple terms, we can conclude that the resistance bands can be of several types and recovery band is one such type.


How resistance bands differentiate from recovery bands in terms of resistance?

People often consider recovery band entirely different from a resistance band. Even if we assume them to be different classes of bands, what is the basis for differentiating them?

The recovery bands are the elastic bands that we use for warming up just before a hard workout session and in a stretching session after finishing a high strength workout.

The resistance band can be a stretching band which steps in after recovery band has been used for warming up the body and steps out just before a stretching session with a recovery band.

When it comes to differentiating them based on the exact range of resistance they provide, there is no hard and fast rule. Confused!

YES, the same exercise band can be a recovery band for athletes who have 2 to 3 years of fitness experience under the hood and a beginner’s resistance band.

That means a yellow color tube resistance band  (with the lowest resistance) may be more than enough for a guy who is doing a biceps for the first time. However, the same color band may only be a recovery band for an experienced athlete.

 If I must differentiate between the two, the recovery band provides resistance up to 5kg. And any workout band providing resistance higher than 5 kg can be considered as a resistance band for an average person.


What should be the qualities of an ideal recovery band?

Not every resistance band of lower resistance can be considered as a recovery band. Here are some of the ideal qualities that a recovery band should have in possession.


a) It should be of reasonably lower resistance –

The resistance of a recovery band should be such that we can easily do 15 to 20 repetitions in one go at a faster pace. For an effective warm-up, engaging the right muscles in a way that there is an increased flow of blood through focussed parts is critical.

 Here, choosing a resistance level that is significantly lower than the average resistance we train during the main workout is extremely important.


b) The recovery band should be at least 4 feet long-

The recovery band is the one that can be used for biceps, shoulder press, bent over row, squats, and even lower body movements such as plank jacks, mountain climbers, squat walks, clamshells to heat up the muscle groups we need to train during the main workout session.

A mini loop band or a booty band of even the lowest resistance can’t serve this purpose as it shall only be limited to lower body workouts.

A higher length resistance band is useful for doing deep hamstring stretches, quad stretch, triceps stretch, oblique stretch, etc.


c) The recovery band needs to be flat and smooth –

We can’t stretch with an exercise band that irritates the skin and causes discomfort. A flat and wide resistance band that is easy to wear around the thighs, arms, legs without using accessories is a must. 


Examples of recovery bands meeting the above qualities

Choosing the right type is a cakewalk once we understand the features to look for in a recovery band.

For your convenience, I have provided the two types of recovery bands I have been using for a long time. Just grab the idea and go for them accordingly.


a) Therapy style resistance bands –

These are the most common and popular type of recovery band used for decades by the coaches to help their students recover from injuries and to prevent injuries proactively.

These bands inherit all the qualities I just mentioned before. These are the extremely thin pieces of rubber sheets that are extra wide and lengthy. They can be tied to make a closed-loop for lower body exercises and used in upper body exercises in untied form. 

Further, their comfort level while doing pre and post-workout sessions is unmatchable.

We also provide one such high-quality Therapy style resistance band here. Check for your reference, please.


b) Yoga straps –

The yoga straps are yet another type of resistance band, which is a lot different from the therapy style resistance bands. The yoga straps are comparatively less wide and a bit thicker than a therapy style band.

Further, yoga straps are made from the mix of cotton and rubber, whereas therapy style bands are made from pure rubber.

Further, the yoga straps come with numerous mini loop segments made throughout the length of them. These tiny segments made within the elastic strap provides the virtual handles to hold the yoga strap with ease.


We can also anchor the yoga strap under the feet easily for doing deep stretches. Such a feature is missing in therapy style bands.

In my own experience, I found myself using yoga straps more often than therapy style bands for their features. I never feel like missing something when I only have a yoga strap but not a therapy style band during touring days.


Here is one such yoga strap I have been using personally for a long time now.


Examples of resistance bands –

The resistance bands come in numerous types and designs. All resistance band types are super comfortable for some specific exercises, while other exercises can also be performed with them, but they may not be as comfortable.

Apply diligence when purchasing resistance bands depending upon the individual goals and workout preferences.

Here are some examples of resistance bands –

  1. Figure-eight resistance bands
  2. Tube resistance bands
  3. Mini loop bands/hip circle bands
  4. Power loop bands
  5. Thigh training bands
  6. Swimming resistance bands
  7. Ankle training bands

To know more about the types of resistance bands available in the market and their workout potential, do visit this article I recently made – Types of resistance bands and their uses – An Exhaustive Guide.


The workout potential with resistance bands vs. recovery bands –

The recovery bands aren’t just meant for pre and post-workout sessions. They are also eligible for toning entire body parts due to their super flexible and simple design.

They can be used for the biceps curl, triceps curl, and overhead shoulder press by anchoring one end of long recovery band underfoot.

Chest press, bent over row, shoulder raise, squats can also be performed similarly. The only difference shall be the level of intensity, which may be useful for senior citizens, kids, and people looking for budget options to achieve general fitness.

The resistance bands can be used for general toning as well as for reaching a golden body shape through serious muscle building.

The resistance bands such as tube resistance bands, figure-eight bands, mini loop bands/booty bands can be useful for general to intermediate fitness goals. Whereas the flat resistance bands such as pull up bands or power loop bands can provide resistance of more than 100 kg, which can be more than enough for an aspiring athlete.

One thing is for sure that a resistance band can’t replicate the rehabilitation/recovery function provided by the recovery bands. Similarly, the recovery bands can’t achieve the usability, comfortability, and intensity of resistance training provided by the resistance bands.



My final opinion –

From the discussion I did with you, one fact can easily be drawn that resistance bands and recovery bands are not interchangeable. They have cemented their place in a fitness regime.

So, it is imperative that if you love to workout with resistance bands for their three-dimensional training and affordability, you must have a recovery band for warming up before a high-intensity resistance workout and deep stretches afterward.

I keep a set of therapy style extra-wide band and yoga straps along with a pair of power loop bands in my bag where ever I go. I love working out with recovery bands as much as with loop bands and tube bands.

Explore the Various resistance bands sold by Unique Addict here for immature and more serious athletes.




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