resistance bands explained

A Complete Guide on Resistance Bands and How to Use Them

by Evelyn Valdez

Resistance bands are a must-have piece of exercise equipment. They may seem like a beginner's tool only, but their versatility makes them perfect for all fitness levels - from beginners to heavy weight lifters, everyone can benefit from using these workout bands.

Resistance bands have so many different names, but they all simply describe what they are. They are long or short elastic bands (typically made from rubber or fabric) that are used for strength training and/or physical therapy. These bands come in various sizes, resistance levels, and materials. You might find it difficult to find the right type of band for you, but luckily, we're experts! We have our very own collection of fabric Resistance Bands (long and short) that we put a lot of effort into the design to ensure that they're durable, comfortable, and can support any style of training for all fitness levels!

That said, we're going to break down the different types of resistance bands, why you should use them, and how to use them successfully – so you can find the perfect band for you and use it effectively!

Types of Resistance Bands

First things first, if you want to find the perfect resistance band you have to know the different types! Some often look for "booty bands", which is just another term for a mini resistance band. While others may have other training needs. Point is, knowing the different types will help you find the right band for your fitness level and training needs.

Mini bands


These are the bands that you've most likely seen on your Instagram feed, except you've probably heard them referred to as booty bands. That is because they are mostly used for glute activation exercises and at-home leg workouts. Our Palma Medium Resistance Band is a good example of a mini band. Ours are made of fabric, but there are rubber/latex resistance bands as well. However, these can be less comfortable because the latex material can rub against your skin, or also break while in use.

These bands are great for activating the lower body muscles, but they can also be used in conjunction with your weighted workouts or used to replace free weights for home workouts! Try using short resistance bands when performing - squats, lunges, glute bridges, stiff leg deadlifts, and more. Or add one while doing a dumbbells-only leg workout!

Large loop bands

Think mini bands, but bigger! These types of bands form a large loop, typically around 40 inches long. They are also referred to as long resistance bands or pull-up bands. That's because they are often used for assisting with pull-ups, but they can also be used for various other full-body exercises. 

Aside from pull-ups, other exercises you can use them for are squats, overhead press, bicep curls, deadlifts, tricep extensions, and more. To get the most out of these, get a door anchor so you can attach the large band to your door and perform other exercises like rows, chest presses, tricep kickbacks, chest flyes, and more. Long bands are probably the most versatile resistance band there is!

Tube bands with handles

These bands are made out of rubber and have heavy-duty pulley handles attached on the end. These types of bands are best for upper body workouts, like bicep curls and shoulder presses. But they are also great for full-body workouts!

Therapy bands

These bands are similar to large loop bands, except they don't loop. They are long, thin bands that are commonly used for mobility and stretching exercises. They are a tool used in physical therapy for people who are recovering from injuries. 

How effective are resistance band workouts?

Similar to free weights, exercise bands provide external resistance that your muscles work against. The big difference these bands have is that they engage the muscles being targeted to fight the tension throughout the entire exercise being performed, not just when you’re moving against gravity. This is what makes them an extremely effective strength training tool - they help activate and tone muscles so you build muscle and strength more effectively.

But how?  We'll tell you as we take a closer look at the benefits of resistance bands...

They help tone and strengthen

As we discussed earlier, resistance bands differ from free weights because they apply resistance throughout the full range of motion of an exercise. This means that the targeted muscle groups are working harder for an extended period of time, which helps build strength more effectively.

The Sports Journal conducted a study to investigate the acute effects on power following the bench press exercise with a combination of elastic band and free weights vs. free weight only. In the study, the group using resistance bands average lower body increase was almost three times better than the free weight group. The study concluded that “Experienced powerlifters and strength and conditioning professionals have claimed elastic band resistance combined with traditional training produces strength gains for several years”. This is why we say that resistance bands aren't only good for helping beginners build muscles, advanced lifters can benefit from them too!

They can improve coordination and core strength

Resistance bands are even more similar to a cable machine. The cable machine at the gym creates a similar tension on your muscles as when performing it using a resistance band. It provides constant tension for your muscles to work against, that consistency adds an element of stabilization required from your body. This means you'll be activating your core for balance thus helping improve your balance, coordination, and core strength. In the long run, that'll help you improve on your heavy compound lifts!

They're versatile

One of the biggest reasons we recommend having a set of resistance bands, aside from building muscle, is because of the versatility and variety they can bring to your workout routine.

Your muscles adapt quickly to the movement/exercises you perform. Switching things up and challenging your muscles by using a band can help you break through plateaus and continue making progress. Combining exercises bands with free weights creates positive growth in fitness, and using resistance bands in other creative ways can help you break through workout boredom. Plus, having a set at home is ideal because they are lightweight and portable making them perfect for traveling and home workouts!

Perfect for all fitness levels

Workout bands come in different resistance levels that range from extra light to extra heavy. Making them the perfect exercise equipment for all fitness levels! Beginners can start with a light band and then work their way up to a more difficult resistance. They are also a staple accessory for those in rehabilitation from a sports or muscle-related injury. Literally, anyone can make use of these bands!


Resistance bands are inexpensive - even the high-quality ones, like ours! The price usually depends on the material, type, and resistance level, but most are fairly priced and can range anywhere between $10-20.

These are just a few of the many great benefits. Whether you’re a beginner or a frequent strength trainer, anyone can benefit from adding one of these bands to their workout routine!

How to use resistance bands

Learning the different ways to use resistance bands will help you maximize their effectiveness! But before we break down the four best ways to use resistance bands, we have one tip to help ensure you're maximizing their use... Buy multiple bands with increasing resistance levels!

You'll most likely use resistance bands in these four different ways, and they all require different resistance levels. Not only that, but you might require a heavier resistance for some exercises to achieve muscle fatigue. Working out with only one band could make you feel that bands aren't challenging enough and make you disregard them altogether! They are, you just need different resistance levels and bands so you have everything you need to create a full-body workout or warm-up routine! So, be prepared and get a bundle of bands with varying resistance levels so you can use them these four ways...

Use them to properly warm-up

Resistance band workouts are more than just building strength. They are a great tool to use for stretching and dynamic warm-ups! Extra light and light resistance bands can be used to help warm up and stretch the upper body and lower body. Everyone can benefit from a proper warm-up routine because it's what will help prevent injuries and even help activate the muscles you are trying to target.

We suggest using a long band to help activate you warm up your entire body. Use it for a variety of stretching exercises like band pull-apart, lat stretches, and even use it to mimic strength training exercises you'll be doing like bicep curls! Use short resistance bands to activate your glutes, hamstrings, and quads before leg day! Short bands are great for glute activation exercises, like banded squats, banded lateral walks, glute bridge hip abductions, and more!

Train at home or wherever with a set of resistance bands

The most common way people use resistance bands is for home workouts or when traveling. Resistance bands are lightweight and portable making them easy to store in your home gym, or in your luggage! They're versatile, so you can also pack them in your gym bag to use in addition to your regular workouts, but having a set comes in handy when you feel like skipping the gym.

You can easily create a total upper body workout using resistance bands, or a lower body only workout, or workout your entire body - anywhere you want! There are so many resistance band exercises to choose from, which is why we created an entire article for just that. If you need help creating a resistance band workout at home, check out The Best Resistance Band Exercises to Build Strength at Home!

Use in addition to free weights to maximize muscle-building

Advanced lifters or anyone trying to make progress on their resistance training can combine resistance bands in addition to free weights to maximize muscle growth! Using resistance bands with free weights can help place an extra and different challenge in your muscles so they have something new to adapt to thus promoting muscle growth. They can also improve your form when using them directly with free weights. 

There are two ways you can use resistance bands with free weights...

  1. Create a superset by following a dumbbell exercise with a resistance band exercise! Creating a superset like this can help exhaust the muscle you're targeting thus maximizing the growth. You can do this by following a dumbbell exercise, like a shoulder press, with a related exercise, like banded front raises - with no rest in between the exercises. Just remember to rest after completing both exercises! You can also pair exercises for opposing muscle groups if you're trying to save time. For example, following dumbbell curls with a banded overhead tricep extension. There are various ways to create supersets using resistance bands, you can use them to save time or to increase the intensity of your workout!
  2. Combine resistance bands with free weights as one unit! For the more advanced lifters, you can combine a long resistance band with a fixed weight so they're working simultaneously. This can be done at the gym, or it's even an excellent home workout tactic for those who have a pair of dumbbells! Here's an example of what it would look like... If you want to improve your front squats and increase the intensity at a long band! Do this by stepping over the band with your feet shoulder-width apart, looping the other end through the dumbbell rod or the barbell, and making sure it's in line with your feet. Then get into a squat position and push yourself back up to feel the increased intensity of the exercise! If you're going to try this, start with a light band and work your way up, this is a more advanced tactic so just be careful!

Use them to help you achieve your first pull-up

Have you been wanting to learn how to do a pull-up?

You can use a long resistance band to help get you there! Assisted pull-ups are the best training wheel to achieving your first pull-up. Although the assisted pull-up machine at the gym is a good option, using a long band is slightly better because it gets you fully adjusted to the pull-up movement and form needed to achieve a full one!

To do assisted pull-ups, simply loop the resistance band around the pull-up bar or squat rack, making sure that one end is secured around the bar. Place one foot in the loop at the bottom, then perform a pull-up as you would. Remember to keep shoulders pulled down and back, chest up, neck neutral, and focus on using your lats and arms to pull your body up. You can also make it more challenging by adjusting the band you use, choosing a lighter band will make it more difficult as opposed to using a heavy resistance band. 

In summary, having a high-quality, durable resistance band set can help you perform better at the gym and at home! You might not need every type of resistance band there is, but find the ones that best fit your training style. And if you're in need of short and long resistance bands then look no further than UPPPER Resistance Bands!

What makes our Resistance Bands so great?

If you check out our store reviews, our customers love our bands because they're comfortable and never roll up or slip around, are available in various resistance levels (light to extra heavy), our short bands come in two sizes so you get the perfect resistance, and they come in various colors and designs! We made sure to bring you a resistance band that is comfortable, durable, and supports your training needs!

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