When choosing resistance bands, you’ll need to consider a couple of factors if you want to get the right bands for your training style and fitness goals. James Grage, band expert and creator of Undersun Fitness, explains the top five things you need to know when selecting bands.
1. Understand the Resistance Levels
When first starting off with resistance bands, most people assume they can get just one band. The problem is that this approach limits you to only one resistance level. According to Grage, this is a very common beginner mistake.
“It’s like going into the gym and trying to work out with just one dumbbell,” he says. “You do need different levels of resistance for different exercises.”
Some exercises such as presses, flyes, and push-ups require smaller bands, while others such as deadlifts, split squats, and rows need bigger bands. Grage recommends getting several bands with varying degrees of resistance.
2. Know Your Band Types
There are two basic types of resistance bands, tube-style and loop-style. Tube-style bands are round and look like surgical tubing and often have handles and attachments. Loop-style bands are usually flat and connected in a single continuous loop.
While both types of bands are available in similar resistance levels, the difference between the two comes down to portability and versatility.
“I’ve actually used tube bands quite a bit, and with the attachments, they end up being quite bulky and heavy,” explains Grage. “I like to have everything lightweight and compact, which is why I moved over to loop-style bands.”
With the loop style, there’s a lot more flexibility since there are no fixed handles. You can increase or decrease the resistance simply by adjusting foot and hand placement or doubling up on the band. This variable resistance is the reason Grage prefers loop-style bands and why he chose that design for Undersun.
3. Consider Band Materials
While you’ve probably never thought about throwing away barbells and dumbbells, lightweight and portable fitness equipment such as bands do find their way into landfills. If minimizing your impact on the environment is important to you, you’ll want to consider what your fitness equipment is made of.
Most resistance bands are latex, which can be either natural latex or artificial latex.
“The thing I like about natural latex is that it is a renewable resource and it’s biodegradable, which is something that is personally very important to me,” says Grage.
While it won’t impact your workout, choosing a natural latex band is more eco-friendly in the long run.
4. Bands Need Proper Care
Like any other piece of equipment, bands suffer from wear and tear and can even weaken and break if not properly cared for.
“If you anchor your band to something sharp or on a rough surface, it’s easy to get a little nick in the band,” Grage notes. “Those are the things that can cause weaknesses in a band and ultimately cause it to fail.”
Having a band break during a workout is never good. Once you purchase a set of bands—and even if you’re using bands in the gym—you always want to check for any kind of damage such as small nicks or tears that may cause the band to break when you use it. You also want to make sure you keep your bands out of direct sunlight and inside as the elements will cause wear and tear, as well. If you want your bands to last a long time, you need to take care of them.
5. What Accessories Do You Need?
Even if you’ve never used exercise gloves before, Grage recommends using gloves with bands.
“I went my entire weight training career without ever using gloves,” he explains. “But the texture of the bands can cause a little bit of wear and tear on your hands.”
You can purchase padded gloves to cushion your hands while you use the band.
Grage also recommends purchasing a door anchor, which allows you to anchor the band to any door. This will increase the number of exercises you can do with your bands and improve your ability to work every muscle group.
“You can anchor the band to the top, the middle, or down low to turn any door into your gym,” says Grage. “Any exercise that you want to do, you can do right there.”
There are many bands to choose from, but, naturally, Grage is partial to the Undersun Bands, which come in five levels of resistance. If you’re ready to take your workouts out of the gym and anywhere you want, get your own set of Undersun bands right here on Bodybuilding.com.