Looking to get toned? There's a band for that.
How the heck does something as unassuming as a resistance band—essentially oversized elastic—make our muscles work so hard?
"Resistance bands can be deceiving," says Health senior fitness editor Rozalynn S. Frazier. "They may not look like much, but they offer a ton of benefits." To name just a few, resistance bands can be used for overall body strengthening as well as mobility enhancement, and they're low-impact and joint-friendly, she adds. "Consider it your all-in-one gym."
Convenient to keep in your home gym for those times when you want to fit in a serious strength workout but can't make it to a workout class, resistance bands allow you to sweat it out at home. Plus, they're affordable, travel-friendly, and extremely versatile. What's not to love?
We’d argue exercise bands are the underrated piece of equipment you should have in your fitness arsenal. Scroll for the eight best resistance bands that will tone your arms, legs, abs, and booty.
Best for beginners: Fit Simplify Resistance Loop Exercise Bands
If you're a newbie when it comes to working out with resistance bands, these 100% natural latex (read: they won't snap) bands are perfect. Each band represents a level—extra light, light, medium, heavy, and extra-heavy—so start with the loosest and work your way up to the medium and heavier ones, which are targeted for more intermediate and advanced strength training. These bands also happen to be Amazon's bestselling resistance bands and can be used by all fitness levels. Bonus: They're versatile enough to be used for physical therapy and rehabilitation.
Best for travel: Gymbandit Mini Resistance Band Set
While they may be some of the prettiest exercise bands on the market, these minis by Gymbandit are still incredibly durable. Made of 100% ethically sourced, natural latex, they hold up to 100 pounds of resistance and are one of the thicker mini bands you'll find. Use them on their own or incorporate into workout circuits to amp up your strength training. Plus, the mini size makes them super easy to toss in your suitcase or purse, so you have them with you whenever you want to squeeze in a sweat sesh.
Best for multitasking: TheraBand Non-Latex CLX Consecutive Loop Bands
Looking for a band you can use on land and in the water? These resistance bands are pool-friendly for all your aquatic workouts and hydrotherapy exercises. Frazier loves them because there are loops within the bands, which make it easier to do a variety of moves and allows you to train with dumbbells simultaneously. "It also means you don’t have to wrap or tie the bands around your hands or feet—just stick ’em in the loops and voilà," she says. These are also latex-free, a good choice for anyone with allergies (or just those who hate the smell of latex).
Best for nailing pull-ups: Intey Assisted Pull-Up Band
Our New Year's resolution? Conquering the pull-up, or at least successfully doing one on our own without our gym buddy's help. These bands make it easy to choose one based on the amount of assistance you need during your repetitions from 15 to 125 pounds. Remember that when you use them for pull-up assistance, you can secure it beneath your feet or under your knee for different levels of support.
Best for your booty: BootyCo Authentic Booty Building Band
This-booty blasting exercise band strengthens and builds all three glute muscles—maximus, medius, and minimus—to help you get a Kim Kardashian-like butt in a month. Follow the online workout videos and nutrition guide, and use the booty band to target your glutes for five minutes a day over 30 days to get a firm, lifted bum. Prefer a more traditional resistance band? We also love these cheeky (pun intended) Perfect Peach Resistance Bands ($20; amazon.com) to work your booty at 5 different intensity levels.
Best for upper body: Valeo Resistance Tubes
With comfortable foam handles (see ya, blisters) and 3 resistance levels, this exercise band is perfect for arms. It’s not only long enough for shoulder presses, but heavy-duty enough to stand up to your most elaborate arm routines, too. Beginners can opt for the lightest resistance band available (green) and slowly work their way up to an advanced weight (gray), while regular gym-goers can layer all the bands together for the ultimate challenge.
Best for lower body: Slingshot Hip Circle Resistance Band
Frazier also likes this resistance band because there's nothing she hates more than having to straighten out a band in the middle of a move—ugh! The Sling Shot from Mark Bell doesn't flip up or get all twisted the way that latex or rubber sometimes do, she says. This band activates and strengthens the hips and glutes; just slip it around your knees and walk with long strides to warm up, then keep it on for your squats (it'll teach you to push your knees out).
Best full band set: Whatafit 11-Piece Resistance Band Kit
This affordable kit from Whatafit includes all the equipment you’ll need to conquer a full-body workout. The set includes 5 bands (with resistance levels ranging from 10-50 pounds) that you can stack for a combined 150 pounds, if you're looking to really challenge yourself. It also features a metal clipping system to attach bands to soft-grip handles, a door anchor, ankle strap, and exercise chart. Plus, there's a nifty complimentary gym bag so you can keep them organized at home or take them with you when you travel.