Resistance bands are really easy and cheap way to start resistance training anywhere you are. But now you see there are actually quite a few different types and lengths of resistance bands. Which ones should you get?
The most versatile resistance bands that can be used stand alone for a full body workout are loop bands and tube bands. Loop bands have a total circumference of 80” to 82” while tube bands are generally 48” long from end to end without attachments.
Find out more about the differences between the types of resistance bands below.
Which lengths resistance bands are there?
There are different types of resistance bands and they
- Loop Band: The total circumference of a loop band is 80” to 82”. Measured from end to end the length is 40” to 42”
- Tube Band: In general tube bands are 48” long from end to end.
- Mini band: The total circumference of mini bands is 20” to 24”. Measured from end to end the length is 10” to 12”
- Therapy bands: From 5’ to 6’ total length for home use. However, can also be bought on rolls of 50’ long.
These sizes are generalizations since there are no standards for resistance bands. Manufacturers can produce whatever they want to but the vast majority of resistance bands of a certain type will fall into the lengths mentioned above.
Loop bands are the longest if you measure the whole circumference but since it’s a loop, you’ll only be able to use about half of that circumference for exercises. Tube bands are the longest type of resistance bands in the real world.
Which length resistance band do you need?
As you can see, the length of a resistance band largely depends on which type it is. There is some variability but the difference in lengths between bands of the same size isn’t that big.
So the better question is; which type of resistance band do I need?
That is pretty easy to figure out since most of these types are made to do a specific thing. So let’s see what the different types of resistance bands are good for.
Think of a big rubber band. That’s basically what a loop band is. Since it’s a loop, there is no end to it. That has a few benefits but also drawback. Find an example here on Amazon
First the drawbacks;
- Not very comfortable to hold: Because these bands are square and you can’t attach handles anywhere, they can be a bit uncomfortable to hold sometimes. Also, they are a little less comfortable to have against other parts of the skin than tube bands.
- Piece in between your hands gets in the way: For example; You’re doing face pulls. For this you grab the band about shoulder width apart and pull to your face. However, there is a piece of resistance bands between your hands that will get in your face if you pull far enough. This happens on quite a few exercises.
- Versatile: The biggest pro of loop bands is that you can integrate them into many different types of exercises. Of course you can use them by themselves for a full body resistance band workout but on top of that they are great to add to several barbell exercises and to make pull ups easier. This is the only type of resistance band that can do this.
- Heavy: These bands can offer the most resistance in a single band. There are bands that go up to over 200 lbs.. Tube bands don’t go that heavy but they can be stacked together more easily.
Overall, loop bands are the most versatile of all the bands but for most people that want to do a full body workout but not integrate the bands into other things like weightlifting, the next type is more suitable.
Tube resistance bands are a little more complicated than just a big rubber band. The band is actually a tube. So instead of a solid piece of rubber, it’s round and hollow in the middle. These are also not in loop form. It’s just a long piece of elastic tubing with two ends.
Those two ends are where tube bands are a bit different since you can attach things to them. Usually you’ll see D handles so you can grip the band just like a dumbbell. Of course to have resistance you’ll have to mount the middle of the band somewhere.
It’s still possible to just grab the tube itself without using the handles just like a loop band or anchoring it under your feet so you’re not missing out on any of that functionality compared to loop bands. The only drawback is that these bands are more difficult to integrate into things like weightlifting and pull ups. On the other hand, you don’t have to deal with the piece of band between your hands that can sometimes limit the range of motion.
Combine a set of tube bands with an anchor and you’ve got a very versatile stand-alone resistance band setup that can be used to train almost every muscle in your body.
Mini bands are loop bands but in a different form and they do something quite different. Mini bands are much thinner and flatter than normal loop bands. And of course they are a lot shorter. This is because mini bands are used for some specific exercises.
Mini bands are usually wrapped around two body parts instead of just grabbing one end and anchoring the other. Often those two body parts are the legs. For example, you can wrap a mini band to go around both knees while squatting. This will help you keep the knees pushed out during the movement since if you don’t push, your knees will cave in really quickly.
Because they are shorter, mini bands increase in resistance much faster than longer bands. That makes them good for exercises where the range of motion is shorter. As said, most mini band exercises involve wrapping them around your legs to train muscles that are otherwise hard to target like the outside of the glutes and thighs.
Mini bands are great to have in your arsenal if you want to focus on any of those things but it’s not the first thing to get. Loop bands or tube bands are much more versatile.
These bands have the most variability in length. In some cases it actually comes on a 50 feet roll and you can cut a piece that is exactly the length you need and disposable. The name Theraband is actually a brand name but you can find similar bands when searching under the same name.
It’s a very thin and wide band. In most cases they aren’t very durable and more suitable for a few uses although there are versions that are a bit more durable. These bands are mostly used for rehab purposes or very light aerobic exercises. For integration of light resistance into other workouts like aerobics, yoga or Pilatus this band works well. For a standalone workout other types of bands are more suitable.
What’s the best type and length of resistance bands for beginners?
Completely new to resistance bands or even to working out and are wondering what type is the best for you?
To get a full body workout with only resistance bands in the most comfortable way, the best option is a set of tube bands. These sets of tube bands usually include 5 different bands, d handles and a door anchor. Sometimes a carrying bag and ankle straps are also included. This is enough to get you started and doing all the exercises you need to work out the whole body.
The door anchor helps you anchor the bands at many heights so you can push and pull from pretty much every angle. Combined with changing up your body position this allows you to work out pretty much every muscle.
Door anchors work but they do have some drawbacks. Think about what happens if someone opens the door when you’re working out! You’ll possibly get a door anchor to the face. Not the most fun you can have. Wall mounted anchors are sturdier and safer although less adjustable. Read more about them here.
Should you get long and short resistance bands?
A combination of longer tube bands and mini bands can expand how many exercises you can do. Mini bands can add some extra exercises that target some muscles in the glutes and thighs that are difficult to train otherwise. So especially many women will want to get some of those mini bands.
However, if you just pick one to start off with, go for the longer tube bands. The mini bands add exercises but by themselves they can’t do anywhere near as much as tube bands can. There is no need to buy both at the same time so get a set of tube bands first and when you feel you need more, get some mini bands. Both are pretty cheap though so if putting both in your basket at the same time doesn’t hurt your wallet, go for it.
I would still recommend starting with just the tube bands though. Especially if you’re completely new to working out, they provide a much more complete workout and the exercises you do with them are more natural and therefore easier. Build up a basic level of strength and muscle before complicating things. Getting the basic movements right is very important to progressing to heavier and more complicated workouts without getting injured.