Types Of Resistance Bands And Their Uses – An Exhaustive Guide

A little knowledge is a dangerous thing”  A famous quote by Sir Albert Einstein perfectly fits in here.

If you are the one just casually exploring the market, JUST STOP AND READ HERE before making your buying decision.

To be fair, there are twenty plus types of resistance bands and their uses vary depending upon your targeted body parts and goals. You may feel surprised for a while as some of you might be under impression that there are hardly 2 to 3 varieties and nothing else.

NOTE – I can’t cover all the twenty plus varieties of elastic resistance bands in this article as this shall make this article way too lengthy. So I have covered famous designs of resistance bands along with some very innovative variations, you won’t believe they existed.

I have covered in-depth the pro and cons of each resistance band type along with their individual design features, pricing details & much more…

Here is the brief index about what you are going to learn (Jump straight to your relevant parts from here if you are short of time)

1. THERAPY STYLE RESISTANCE BANDS
2. FLAT LOOP RESISTANCE BANDS
a. Mini Loop Resistance Bands
b. Power Loop Resistance Bands
3. TUBE RESISTANCE BANDS
a. Clip Type Tube Resistance Bands
b. Fit Tube Resistance Bands
c. Figure 8 Tube Resistance Bands
d.Mini Loop Tube Resistance Bands
4 BUNGEE STYLE RESISTANCE BANDS
5. OTHER INNOVATIVE VARIATIONS OF BANDS
a. Walk And Jump Training Bands
b. Chest Expander
c. Abs Roller Bungee Style Bands
d. Resistance Tube Pedal Expander
e. Thigh Resistance Tube Trainer
f. Booty Resistance Trainer
6. MY OPINION


Here is the elaborated video explaining the most common resistance bands found in the market with pro and cons fo each type –


1. THERAPY STYLE RESISTANCE BANDS – 

These are the flat, extra wide and thin resistance bands made out of rubber with open ends. By open ends, i mean that you can’t attach any plastic foam handles on both sides.

You have to grip the ends of therapy bands by folding the loose ends in your hands as shown in the picture below…

SPECIFICATION –

Design Flat and Wide rubber sheets

Dimensions

Typical length – 5 feet to 8 feet, Typical width –   5 inches on average

Material

Latex (Natural rubber) or Non-Latex (Artificial rubber)

Resistance Offered – Average 3 to 10 pounds

Pricing –  Extremely low

Main Design highlight

The rubber sheet has been made extra wide, flat and long length making it extremely flexible.

Extra-wide rubber sheet equally distributes the tension of band over larger area of feet, legs where you have anchored the band.

This benefit lets you perform exercises that other bands types make it too uncomfortable as shown in the picture…

Uses of Therapy style resistance bands – 

As the name suggests, the main use of therapy style stretch resistance bands is in Yoga, Pilates, and Stretching.

That doesn’t mean you can’t use them for shoulders, back, chest, biceps/triceps, etc.. They can also tone your upper body parts as well as lower body parts as shown in the picture below

Limitations –

The main drawback of these stretching bands is the lower resistance offered up to 10 pounds which restricts their use to toning of muscles only. You can’t set the goals of muscle building.

Further, exercises such as biceps, triceps, rowing etc feel a bit awkward due to the absence of handles.

 2. FLAT LOOP RESISTANCE BANDS –

The close relative of therapy style resistance bands are the elastic rubber sheets joined at the ends to make a loop.

So, there are no loose ends here to anchor to the door or any hook as shown in the picture below

SPECIFICATION –

Design

Flat rubber sheets in form of closed-loop

Dimensions

Dimensions vary depending upon the kind of variation of loop resistance band being used which I have explained below…

There are two variations of loop resistance bands available in the market, both of which have different kinds of applications.

A.  Mini Loop Resistance Band –

These are also made of rubber sheets which are more thicker and less wide than therapy style resistance bands. As the name suggests, it makes the closed-loop but of smaller diameter as shown in the picture below

These mini loop resistance bands due to their lesser diameter have their own field of dedicated exercises which are comparatively difficult to perform with other workout bands types.

SPECIFICATION –

Design

Flat rubber sheets in a closed loop of smaller diameter

Dimensions (On Average)

Typical length- 5cm, width – 5cm

Material – Latex (Natural rubber) or Non-Latex (Artificial rubber)

Resistance – 20 to 80 Pounds

Pricing –  Low

Main design highlight 

Due to a flat surface, as I mentioned also in the case of therapy style exercise bands, they also distribute the tension over a larger area of your body parts causing less irritation.

As such, you do not feel like using any handle to hold the band at the ends. Right!

That makes it suitable for certain types of exercises which you would find uncomfortable to perform with other band types.

Applications of mini loop resistance bands –

These mini-workout loop bands are famous for legs exercises such as lunges, squats, leg front raise, leg side raise, etc where you sandwich the mini loop band between the thigh or knees as shown in the picture below…

In nutshell, these rubber training bands target smaller muscle groups such as inner, outer thigh muscles, calve muscles which need lesser resistance to bring them under optimum tension.”

The above exercise possibilities make it popular among athletes such as runners, footballers where they can add additional resistance to their leg moments without altering their sports-specific movements.

NOTE – The above use of mini loop resistance bands doesn’t mean they can only be used for leg exercises.

You can also use them for stretching, yoga, rowing, biceps, abs, etc. The only point is that they are more famous for leg exercises due to their suitability to those exercises.

Limitation – Their limitation is similar to those of therapy style elastic bands which is lower resistance for advanced muscle building and inability to perform typical gym exercises such as biceps curl, triceps, deadlift, shoulder press, chest press in more precise and effective manner due to absence of handles and lesser diameter along with lower resistance.

IDEA  – Do your loop band slips from the original position where it was fastened?

I raised this question before you may actually realize it later and it is a common issue with these elastic training bands.

NO WORRIES… There is a solution to this.

Here come the mini loop resistance bands which are made from polyester (which is a cloth fabric) and natural latex rubber. Due to the presence of cloth fabric, these anti-slip loop resistance bands don’t slip between the thighs or ankles while doing squats, lunges, etc..

B. Power Loop Resistance Bands –

These resistance bands, as the name implies, are also the rubber sheets in a closed loop. However, the width of the rubber sheet is comparatively smaller than mini loop bands and therapy style resistance bands.

In order to add power to these loops, they have been made much thicker than mini loop resistance bands.

SPECIFICATION –

Design

Flat rubber sheet in the closed-loop of larger diameter

Dimension

Typical Length  – up to 7 feet,  width – up to 2.5 inches, Typical thickness – up to 10 mm

Material

Latex (Natural rubber) or Non-Latex (Artificial rubber)

Resistance – up to 230 pounds

Pricing – Medium to high

Main Design highlight of power loop bands

Owing to the fact, they have higher thickness and larger diameter in range to 3 to 4 feet, these power loop resistance bands can easily be used for targeting larger muscle groups such as chest, back, shoulder, quadriceps, hamstrings (leg muscles)  where your muscle needs higher resistance to keep them under tension for optimum stimulation of muscle fibers

Application of Power loop resistance bands –

As you must already be knowing,  if creators have made these loop strength bands, then there must be some unique exercises that either can’t be performed with other band types or are way too difficult to perform.

These specialized exercises are bodyweight exercises such as pull up, chin up, calisthenics etc where your bodyweight is acting as resistance for your body muscles.

However, as your muscles are not strong enough to bear entire bodyweight in the beginning, these power bands partially decreases the tension on muscles as shown in picture below

That’s why they are also famous as pull up assist resistance bands.

Further, you can also perform deadlifts, shoulder press, shoulder raise, rowing, chest press, biceps curl etc more effectively with these bands than as compared to mini loop and therapy style resistance bands as shown in picture below

LIMITATION –

These power assist bands due to their design parameters can’t be used for smaller muscle groups which you can do so easily with mini loop bands.

For example – For doing lunges or squats, you will have to fold the power loop band twice due to their extended length. Further, the resistance provided after double-fold also increases two times making those small muscles to over train.

3. TUBE RESISTANCE BANDS –

As you may have already guessed, these bands are made out of cylindrical rubber tubes which may be hollow or solid sometimes as shown in the picture below…

You might feel like why this design of bands was supposed to be invented. And always there is some reason behind every invention which I shall discuss in some time.

These tube resistance bands always come with soft foam or hard plastic handles at both ends for the workout

SPECIFICATION –

Design

Hollow or solid cylindrical rubber tubes with foam or hard plastic handles at both ends

Dimension

Typical length – up to 3 feet, Typical thickness – varies depending upon the color code of resistance band.

Material

Latex (Natural rubber) or Non-Latex (Artificial rubber)

Resistance  –  8 to 60 Pounds

Pricing – Medium

Main Design Highlight –

This tube type design was invented for a special reason. What loop resistance bands and therapy style bands lacked was the lack of handles at both ends which makes them uncomfortable in gripping especially where you have to hold one end of workout band with hands such as in case of a biceps curl, chest fly, triceps curl.

Handles prove to be much comfortable in gripping especially when the resistance of bands has been increased considerably as you can well imagine by looking at the picture below…

These tube resistance bands can also mimic all the dumbbell exercises you perform in the gym.

Applications of tube resistance bands –

As I said earlier, due to comfort of holding the resistance bands with handles at both ends, you can easily replicate almost any dumbbell exercises such as shoulder raise, shoulder press, squats, leg raise, triceps extension, biceps curl as shown in the picture below

Limitation –

Every shining object has a dark shadow, and these tube exercise bands are no exception. Here are three major limitations you would get surprised to know…

  1. Not ideal for stretching, yoga, and pilates –

Though, some of you must have seen stretching, yoga exercises with tube resistance bands but still, their use is quite restricted in this field owing to the fact that it has a smaller surface than flat resistance bands.

These narrow rubber tubes when touches your body parts during any exercise, it causes lots of discomfort and irritation as shown in the picture below…

2. Unfit for lateral leg exercises –

When you replicate those same exercises of legs as you perform with mini loop resistance band like squats, lunges, inner thigh/outer thigh exercises, these tube bands cause noticeable pain on the skin and discomfort.

3. Increased risk for injury –

Just in case, due to the inferior quality of resistance band or improper elongation of tube resistance band beyond the defined limits, it may break similar to any other resistance band type.

However, the fact that its design is more narrow and presence of steel clips at both ends (in some designs), the ends when broken comes lightning fast towards your body and may injure you severely which is not the case with flat resistance bands where the level of injury is not so serious.

Increased risk for injury in case of tube resistance band due to sudden snapping of resistance band under tension

Is there any way to prevent injury from tube resistance bands?

You will feel relived a bit if I say ‘YES’.

There are tube resistance bands in the market which come with cloth/fabric covering. So, just in case, tube resistance bands break inside, fabric bungee style covering is here to prevent broken missile-like loose broken ends from hitting you.

A tube resistance band with cloth covering displayed

NOTE – Here are the numerous variations of tube resistance bands in the market which are good at some specific exercises. I shall not be touching all variations in complete details as it shall make this article way too long

A. Clip Type Tube Resistance Bands – 

These tube strength bands have stainless steel clips at both ends where you can attach various accessories such as handles, ankle cuffs, door attachments, waist belt among others.

They usually come in a complete kit of different color codes bands along with accessories as shown in the picture below. Check out the clip type tube resistance bands here.

Image showing clip type tube resistance band kit along with different accessories

SPECIFICATION –

Design

Hollow or solid cylindrical rubber tubes with stainless steel clips at both ends

Dimension – Typical length up to 3 feet

Material – Latex (Natural rubber) or Non-Latex (Artificial rubber)

Resistance  –10  to 50 lbs

Pricing – Medium

Main Design Highlight

The provision of clips at both ends makes them truly versatile in the sense that you can easily perform even those exercises which were are an inherent feature of mini loop bands like side leg raise, lunges, leg extension along with push/pull exercises using waist belt.

The possibilities are endless. Just attach the suitable attachment and you are good to go.

Applications of clip type tube resistance bands –

As already mentioned above, these clip type training bands lets you perform all dumbbell exercises along with numerous variations of same exercises in multiple planes movement as shown below

A woman doing back exrecises with clip type tube resistance band in standing position

B. Fit Tube Resistance Bands –

As the name suggests, these tube resistance bands come with pre-fitted plastic or foam handles on both sides and lets you perform all exercises as you would have been performing with clip tube resistance bands

An image showing fit tube resistance band in red color

SPECIFICATION –

Design

Hollow or solid cylindrical rubber tubes with pre-fitted handles at both ends

Dimension – same as for clip type tube resistance bands

Material – Latex (Natural rubber) or Non-Latex (Artificial rubber)

Resistance  – 5 to 75 lbs

Pricing – Medium

Main Design Highlight

Here you don’t need to switch between the different color-coded resistance tubes and handles frequently as you have to keep doing with clip type resistance tube bands and it saves the time which you would have been spending to set up the resistance bands.

Applications

The applications are quite similar to clip type tube resistance bands. You can use them for chest press, biceps curl, triceps, rowing and several other exercises.

These bands are good for people who are just the beginners or doing resistance training for shaping their body or elders without any long term fitness goals.

A woman doing different body parts exercises with fit tube resistance band

Limitations

When you have the luxury of pre-fitted handles, then there are also some drawbacks which needs to be told as under

1. It makes it a costly affair – These strength bands are way costlier than clip tube resistance bands as all fit tube bands have separate handles of their own.

For people looking for serious fitness, only one color-coded fit tube resistance band won’t suffice. You will have to purchase higher resistance fit tube bands as your stamina increases thereby increasing the cost further

2. Limited exercises – The fact that it has handles fitted at ends, means you can’t attach accessories such as ankle cuff for performing side/front leg raise, lunges.

Similarily, door attachments and waist belts can’t be attached making it restricted in its use.

C. Figure 8 Tube Resistance Bands –

These tube resistance bands have been designed in the shape of EIGHT ( no loose ends) with soft foam handles on both sides.

So it behaves quite similar to the fit tube resistance bands with the only difference that it has no open ends in radial form.

An image showing green color figure eight tube resistance band

SPECIFICATION –

Design

Hollow or solid cylindrical rubber tubes with soft foam handles at both ends

Dimension

same as for fit tube resistance bands.  However, the length is on the shorter side.

Material

Latex (Natural rubber) or Non-Latex (Artificial rubber)

Resistance – in range of 7 to 22 pounds

Pricing – Low

Applications –

Exercises that can be performed are similar to those of fit tube bands with the exception that you can also do a bit more stretching variations and squats variations such as side squats, lunges etc by putting them between the calves or thighs.

A woma doing different exercises with figure eight resistance band

Limitations –

These elastic loop bands are not as versatile as the clip tube resistance bands due to the inability to use attachments but it’s good for toning purpose or for elders without any specific long term fitness goals.

Check out the figure 8 resistance bands here…

D. Mini Loop Tube Resistance Bands –

As you must have guessed it correctly, in this case, tube resistance bands are molded to form a mini loop with soft foam handles provided at both sides on loop itself to reduce the discomfort due to higher irritation of tube bands over the skin.

An image displaying black color mini loop tube resistance band

SPECIFICATION –

Design

Mini loop made out of hollow or solid cylindrical rubber tubes with soft foam handles at both ends

Dimension

same as for fit tube resistance bands.  however, the length is similar to mini loop flat resistance bands. Typical length up to  2 feet with a width of 5cm

Material – Latex (Natural rubber) or Non-Latex (Artificial rubber)

Resistance –  20 pounds to 80 pounds

Pricing –   Low

Applications  –

As they are the carbon copy of mini flat loop resistance bands, their exercises are very much similar to mini flat loop resistance bands with specialization in leg exercises such as lunges, squats, leg raise etc…

A woman doing different body parts exercises using mini loop tube resistance band

Limitations –

Restricted use for leg muscles mainly due to the absence of handles at either end.

4. BUNGEE STYLE RESISTANCE BANDS –

These resistance bands produce the bungee effect similar to the bungee jumping and are extremely flexible, normally extends many folds as compared to other latex/non–latex resistance bands.

They are made up of braided rubber bungee and lengthier than other band types. These are extremely popular among professional athletes for cardio training involving push and pull exercises.

An image showing blue color bungee style resistance band

SPECIFICATION –

Design

Braided rubber bungee

Dimension

Length –   can  be stretched up to 8ft to 22ft

Material 

Latex (Natural rubber) or Non-Latex (Artificial rubber)

Resistance – 20 to 50lbs

Pricing – Medium to high

Main Design Highlight –

Given the fact that it extends many folds the original length, it provides enough space for including enough dynamic movements.

This means you can include these bands to your original sport-specific movements for providing functional resistance without altering movements inherent to your sports.

Applications –

These are ideal for athletes like footballers, runners, volleyball, basketball players looking for improving speed and agility to beat their competitors.

A woman doing shoulder raise with bungee style resistance band

Limitations –

If you are looking for bulking up muscles or toning muscles and also stretching, these bands are not for you.

TIRED READING! Now, you have just reached the end…

But REALLY! Not so buddy.. there are still some varieties left but believe me, you will feel surprised to know them as promised in the beginning…

I am just going to breeze over those lanes as you must have understood enough to easily guess the pro and cons of each workout band… though I only suppose… Do you agree!

5. OTHER INNOVATIVE VARIATIONS OF RESISTANCE BANDS

Here we go..

A. Walk And Jump Training Bands – 

These resistance bands are specifically meant to train leg muscles only for intensifying the cardio workouts.

An athlete doing high knees exercise using walk and jump training band

So why not to use mini loop bands instead of walk and jump training bands?

Yes, you are right. Mini loop rubber bands are more versatile. But the sort of comfort you get from the walk and jump specialized training bands can nowhere be beaten by loop bands.

Dedicated bands are the way to go if your strategy is razor-focused.

B. Chest Expander

As you might have understood, it is mainly focused on strengthening chest muscles and it is made out of multiple strings of detachable resistance tubes.

Though it is used for chest muscles, however, you can also perform a biceps curl, triceps curl, shoulder raise, and many other exercises

A gym goer doing chest fly exrecise using chest expander

NOTE –

Its main benefit lies in the ease of quickly adding or removing resistance tubes from the chest expander by simply pulling out the widened hook of resistance tubes from the brackets of chest expander.

The handles of chest expanders are larger in size than ordinary handles of tube resistance bands. As such, it provides better comfort and grip where other ordinary handles feel a bit tight in your hands or feet.

C. AB Roller Bungee Style Bands – 

Have a look at the picture and you would easily understand the unique advantage of their design, i suppose though!

An image showing ab roller bungee style resistance band

These bungee style bands have unique handles made out of fabric without foam or plastic, for easy non-slip grip over your feet.

D. Resistance Tube Pedal Expander –

This expander has some unique set up. It comes with two handles adjoining to each other where you can place your feet comfortably while on the other end it has handles like an air pump.

It gives you the super comfort in the exercises where you need to anchor the resistance bands inside the feet.

An image showing resistance tube pedal expander

E. Thigh Resistance Tube Trainer –

This resistance tube trainer has two Velcro thigh cuffs/attachments at the ends to increase the resistance between the thighs during running, walking, high knee stepping, lunges and various cardiovascular exercises for increasing speed, agility and activating fast-twitch fibers.

An image showing green color thigh resistance tube trainer

F. Booty Resistance Trainer –

This resistance trainer is also made from resistance tubes with a common waist belt at one end of 2 no. resistance loops and ankle straps at the other end. As the name suggests, it gives nice workout to glute muscles including abdominal muscles.

An image showing yellow color thigh resistance trainer

6. MY OPINION –

SAFETY COMES FIRST… Make it a habit to go through the safety manual first before using any product. Based on my experience, never ever hurry to use any gadget including resistance bands. IT IS ALWAYS BETTER TO BE LATE THAN SORRY.

I tried my best to cover all relevant safety instructions along with some innovative ideas to make your fitness journey much more safer based on my experience and research.

Do not forget to leave your views just in case, i left out anything. And  help the community  by sharing your experience. 

ADDITIONAL RESOURCES FOR EXTRA READING – 

1. Read the official care and safety instructions by TheraBands here

2. Go through detailed instructions of usage and storage titled as safety information by aboundcare.com.

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