Resistance bands are perhaps the most underrated category of fitness equipment. They have several advantages that make them a must-have for nearly everyone.
First, they’re cheap. While a good set of weights will cost you hundreds of dollars, a good set of resistance bands will almost always be under a hundred.
Second, they’re both compact and lightweight. This makes them easy to take to the gym, store at home, or even travel with. In fact, they’re the best thing to take if you’re going to be traveling somewhere that you won’t have access to a gym.
Third, they’re extremely flexible. Unlike some more specialized equipment, resistance bands can be used for dozens of different exercises, targeting nearly every muscle in the body.
Finally, bands offer a different resistance curve than weights do. Because the resistance goes up as bands are stretched, they provide increasing resistance over the range of motion of an exercise. This makes them a better option than weights for some exercises, but a worse option for others– more on that later.
In this article, we’ll do a head to head comparison of several resistance band products by two of the leading brands: WODFitters and Rogue.
Both companies appear to largely be targeting the Crossfit market–Rogue actually makes this explicit by sponsoring Crossfit games and having an “Equipment for Crossfit” section in their store. WODFitters is less explicit about this, but the name is a giveaway: WOD is a Crossfit acronym for “Workout Of the Day.” Neither company, however, is directly associated with Crossfit, Inc.
What To Buy Resistance Bands For
There are several distinct types of resistance bands, the three most common of which we’ll focus on here.
First there are fit loop bands– these look like giant rubber bands, several feet long. They are used for a variety of purposes, but the two best-known are band-assisted pull-ups, and accommodating resistance training– that is, the use of bands to modify barbell exercises such as squats and bench presses. There are also some stretches that fit loop bands can be used for.
The second type is mini-loop bands. These are like fit loop bands except much shorter– around a foot long– and thicker. They’re used strictly for standalone exercises.
Finally there are tube bands, or compact resistance bands. These have handles on the ends, and are used to perform standalone exercises, in a manner similar to dumbbells or cable machines.
The Best Resistance Bands For Assisting Pull-Ups
If you’re not familiar with band-assisted pull-ups, this video shows how to perform them. Note that the woman in the video is only putting one foot in the band– putting both feet into it may sound easier, but it actually makes balance more difficult.
Now, here are the contenders:
WODFitters Resistance Bands vs. Rogue Echo Resistance Bands
The winner: WODfitters
WODFitters wins here, though not strictly on product quality. The two band sets are highly similar in quality, but differentiated on information and usability.
WODFitters provides an awesome chart (it’s one of the images on the product page) that shows you exactly which band to use based on your weight and how many unassisted pull-ups you can do. Rogue just says how much resistance each band provides, which doesn’t tell you which one will be best for you.
The Best Resistance Bands For Modifying Barbell Exercises
Why add resistance bands to barbell exercises? With many typical barbell exercises such as the squat, bench press and deadlift, the bottom of the movement is harder than the top or middle, creating a sticking point. Because bands provide more resistance as you stretch them out, they negate this sticking point, allowing you to lift more weight while still squeezing out an extra rep or two.
For this purpose, you’ll always need two identical bands– one attached to either end of the barbell. This video shows how to set up the bands for the bench press, squat and deadlift. However, I advise against attaching the bands to the top of the squat rack for squats, as this would mean that if the bands break (which I’ve never seen, but it can happen), the barbell becomes heavier rather than lighter. Stick to attaching them from below.
The contenders here are the same as before:
WODFitters Pull-up Resistance Bands VS. Rogue Echo Resistance Bands
The winner: WODFitters
WODFitters wins again, and for similar reasons: they provide better information. Rogue provides one resistance number per band, i.e. 15 pounds. WODFitters provides a range, like 15-35 pounds, which is how bands actually work since resistance goes up as you stretch them. This gives you a more accurate idea of how much weight you’re pushing at any given level of stretch, and makes it easier to pick the right bands.
This is extremely important when it comes to accommodating resistance training. You’ll want to replace about 20-40% of the barbell weight with band resistance, based on however much resistance you expect them to apply near the midpoint of your range of motion.
If you normally bench press 245 pounds for instance, you’d want to drop that to approximately 155 pounds, and then use two of the black (30-60 pound) bands to make up the difference. Remember to double- or triple-wrap the bands if you need to shorten them so they’re stretched taut even at the bottom of the movement.
The Best Mini Loop Resistance Bands
There are a lot of exercises you can do with mini loop bands. Most are leg exercises– this video shows a few.
WODFitters Mini Bands VS. Rogue Loop Bands
Winner: Rogue Loop Bands
Again, there’s not a clear difference in quality. Rogue wins, not on information in this case, but on variety. Rogue offers six levels of resistance compared to just four for WODFitters. WODFitters bands come on 10 or 12 inches of length, while Rogue offers either 9 or 12 inches– a wider spread, and helpful for shorter people. Finally, Rogue offers its bands either as full sets or as matched pairs, while WODFitters only offers the full set.
Rogue simply offers far more options here so it’s much easier to find exactly what you want.
The Best Tube Resistance Bands
These have handles on the ends and are mostly used kind of like dumbbells. They tend to come with a book of exercises. Good sets will have a door anchor to let you press or pull the bands horizontally or downward, as in this video. The use of a door anchor is crucial for maximizing the flexibility of tube bands.
The winner: Split decision
The WODFItters set comes with a door anchor and wrist and ankle straps. Rogue sells those separately, and massively overprices them– a door anchor, even from a premium brand, should not cost $30.
The Rogue set actually offers more resistance and one more band, which is great for stronger people, however you can attach multiple bands to the handles to get the same results with several lighter bands– albeit it gets a little unwieldy– so heavier resistance isn’t that big of a priority. The accessories massively increase the number of exercises you can do, which is way more important.
WODFitters is therefore the better option for most users. That said, for a few really strong people, the full set of WODFitters bands still won’t be enough for certain exercises such as squats–those people should go with Rogue.
The Best Resistance Band Exercises
Rather than attempt to write out exercises, step by step, it’s better to provide links to YouTube videos we think provide solid instructions for each of these exercises. Better to watch and imitate than read and interpret.
|Muscle group||Exercise name||Type of band||YouTube Video||Notes|
|Resistance Band Chest Exercises||Bench Press With Accommodating Resistance||WODfitters resistance bands (loop)||Barbell Bench Press With Resistance Bands||None|
|Resistance Band Chest Exercises||Door Anchored Chest Presses||WODfitters resistance bands set (tube)||Standing Decline Chest Press Using Resistance Bands||You can easily change this to a level or incline chest press by simply lowering the door anchor|
|Resistance Band Shoulder Exercises||Barbell Military Press With Bands||WODfitters resistance bands (loop)||Barbell Military Press With Resistance Bands||You can instead attach the bands to a pair of heavy dumbbells, if you don’t have a squat rack|
|Resistance Band Shoulder Exercises||Band Shoulder Press||WODfitters resistance bands set (tube)||Military Press With Resistance Bands||None|
|Resistance Band Tricep Exercises||Modified Bench Press||WODfitters resistance bands (loop)||Military Press With Resistance Bands||As above, but pause just below the top of the range of motion for a second on each rep|
|Resistance Band Tricep Exercises||Band Tricep Extension||WODfitters resistance bands set (tube)||Resistance Band Tricep Extensions||None|
|Resistance Band Upper And Lower Back Exercises||Lat Pulldowns||WODfitters resistance bands set (tube)||How To Do Straight Arm Lat Pulldown With Resistance Bands||None|
|Resistance Band Upper And Lower Back Exercises||Various||WODfitters resistance bands (loop)||8 Resistance Band Back Exercises||All the exercises in this video are good for back|
|Resistance Band Thigh And Glute Exercises||Barbell Squat With Bands||WODfitters resistance bands set (tube)||How To Set Up Bands For The Squat In Power Lifting||Shows both band setup and proper technique; note however that the man doing the squats does point his head down too much—try to keep yours level|
|Resistance Band Thigh And Glute Exercises||Various||WODfitters resistance bands (loop)||Mini Band Workout||This entire workout is good for legs|
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