How to use resistance bands for the workout you want

Fitness Equipment

Resistance bands can offer a safer, more effective workout than dumbbells with a lower risk of injury.

BestReviews is reader-supported and may earn an affiliate commission. Details.

Workouts you can do with resistance bands

Most people don’t realize that they can have an intense, effective and multifunctional exercise session with resistance bands. In today’s world, resistance bands are the number one go-to tool for strength and conditioning coaches, cardio addicts, bodybuilders and people who want to get ripped and toned for the beach. 

Resistance bands are a great alternative to the gym. What’s more, they can be used at home at a time of your convenience on almost any budget. However, the biggest hurdle for most people is learning how and when to use resistance bands for optimal results. 

What are resistance bands? 

Resistance bands are rugged elastic bands that can be adapted to mirror the function of any known strength exercises that you’d normally do with free weights or machines. As a rule, different manufacturers use different colors to classify the amount of resistance a band will offer.  However, when designing a workout, it’s more important to know how various types of resistance bands can be used.

Therapy bands 

Therapy resistance bands typically have no handles and are used primarily for injury rehab. They are often recommended by physiotherapists. 

Tube bands 

Tube bands often have plastic handles so they can be used for compound exercises to work the upper and lower body.

Fit loop bands 

These bands are designed as a continuous loop with no handles. They are most often used in lower body workouts as they can be wrapped around the legs and feet.

Figure 8 bands 

Figure 8 bands usually are very thick bands that provide high resistance. They are used for upper body workouts.

Ring resistance bands

These types of resistance bands come with circular handles. They’re most typically used for lower body workouts or full stretch exercises to work the whole body.

Lateral resistance bands

Lateral resistance bands have velcro cuffs that go around each ankle. The resistance provided by the band on each leg is then used for strength and conditioning exercises designed to work the lower body.

For more information on buying the right resistance bands for you, check out the full buying guide from BestReviews.

How to use resistance bands for strength and conditioning workouts 

Resistance bands are great for strength and conditioning (S&C) workouts. S&C workouts are high-intensity and aimed at improving overall strength and cardiovascular ability. What’s more, this style of exercise is used by world-class athletes across the globe to get in shape and maintain existing strength and conditioning.  

round timer

Resistance band strength and conditioning workouts are typically highly structured. This means that athletes select five to ten exercises that cover all the body’s major muscle groups. Next, using a round timer, athletes perform each exercise for a full round then rest before repeating. Beginners typically use compound exercises such as shoulder press, front squats, deadlifts, pull-ups and press-ups to get the whole body working. Tube bands generally are used to get optimal results. What’s more, athletes can add resistance bars to their bands to make the workout more challenging. 

Designing the workout can be tricky. For optimal strength and conditioning results, athletes typically perform rounds of ten seconds at first, followed by a five-minute break. More advanced users may opt to increase their time.

foam roller

As an added burnout, users typically use therapy bands to resist the hands and perform left-right boxing punches for a significant cardio HIIT workout. It’s also best to cool down with a foam roller to increase flexibility and decrease muscle soreness the next day.

How to use resistance bands for bodybuilding workouts 

dumbbells and barbells

Resistance bands are great for bodybuilding workouts, but they’re also ideal for toning and getting ripped too. However, the truth is that resistance bands may not offer the full range of resistance that dumbbells and barbells can. Resistance bands are still highly effective at building muscle and improving muscle tone and definition if used correctly.

Resistance band bodybuilding workouts are highly structured. However, as opposed to using rounds, athletes will typically follow a set and rep approach. This means that the athlete, depending on band resistance, will complete between 4-12 repetitions for three or four sets for each exercise. Beginners are generally advised to complete 10-12 repetitions (i.e., perform the exercise 10-12 times in one go) for three sets. 

While resistance bands may not offer all the range of motion that free weights or machines do, they are often used in a push and pull style to get optimal results. Push sessions will often focus on shoulder press, bench press, squats and even band resisted push-ups. For pull sessions, athletes can perform bent-over rows, deadlifts and high-pulls for optimal muscle strengthening. 

To achieve optimal results in terms of muscle tone, athletes typically select an exercise per muscle group using a light band and repeat an exercise until they can’t anymore. This results in a physical phenomenon known as the pump, where a lot of blood collects in the muscle tissue, giving it the appearance of being bigger, healthier and more toned than it would typically appear.

What you need to buy for resistance band workouts

LIVEPRO Exercise Resistance Bands Set

LIVEPRO Exercise Resistance Bands Set

This product is great for beginners who want all the benefits of strength and conditioning workouts combined with the toning benefits of bodybuilding. Not only is this set super affordable but it’s also versatile and comes in light to extra heavy options. 

Where to Buy: Available at Amazon

TheFitLife Exercise Resistance Bands

TheFitLife Exercise Resistance Bands

This five-level resistance band set is great for bodybuilders or users who want to get ripped from the comfort of their own homes. The sweat-proof handles and latex make this product ideal for safe, high-intensity use.

Where to Buy: Available at Amazon 

MhIL 5 Resistance Bands Set

MhIL 5 Resistance Bands Set

This set of bands is ideal for lower body workouts. The superior quality and ability to focus on major lower body muscle groups make this a must-have for athletes looking to shape their legs into works of art.

Where to Buy: Available at Amazon


Sign up here to receive the BestReviews weekly newsletter for useful advice on new products and noteworthy deals.

Lauren Farrell writes for BestReviews. BestReviews has helped millions of consumers simplify their purchasing decisions, saving them time and money.


Copyright 2021 BestReviews, a Nexstar company. All rights reserved.