Resistance bands (also known as stretch, exercise, or booty bands) are some of the most popular types of home training equipment on the market. But are they worthless gimmicks or an effective investment? This post explains if resistance bands are worth it.
Resistance bands are generally worth the money for most people. When used properly, they are an affordable way to build muscle, lose fat, and tone the body at home. However, it is also important to note that budget models tend to snap after a couple of years of intense use.
I’ve cycled through cheap as well as premium resistance bands for over 5+ years.
Below, I’ll explain my experience and research on why resistance bands are, overall, worth the money.
I’ll also explain how much resistance bands cost and how much you should expect to pay.
- Resistance Bands Mentioned In This Post
- Why It's Worth Buying Resistance Bands
- Why It May Not Be Worth Buying Resistance Bands
- How Much Resistance Bands Cost
- How Much Should You Spend On Resistance Bands?
- Do Amazon And Reddit Think Resistance Bands Are Worth It?
- How Popular Are Bands And Are They In Demand?
- Are Bands Considered To Be Expensive?
- Resistance Bands: Good Investment Or Worthless Gimmick?
Resistance Bands Mentioned In This Post
- Undersun circular loop bands (link for my full review). Premium brands with the heaviest resistance and a lifetime guarantee (they’ll replace the broken band if you send them an email). I’ve been using these for over 3 years now. They’re slightly more expensive than their budget competitors, but they’ll last a lifetime. They’re ideal for bodybuilders, powerlifters, gym junkies, and fitness enthusiasts.
- Whatafit tube bands (link for the cheapest price). Budget bands with lighter resistance and a 2-year guarantee. I’ve gone through multiple sets in the past and went for the Undersuns in the end (haven’t changed since). These are excellent for working out at home on the cheap. But they’ll only last 1-2 years of heavy use. They’re ideal for beginners training for casual fitness. I would always recommend spending the extra 20 or so bucks for something that’ll last you a much longer time (hint, the Undersuns!). Nevertheless, it’s extremely affordable if that’s what you’re looking for.
Why It’s Worth Buying Resistance Bands
Resistance bands can come as singles, or more popular these days, as a set.
Generally speaking, you get greater value for your money when buying a set compared to buying multiple single bands.
Here are the main reasons why I think resistance bands are worth the money and why they are so popular:
- They’re affordable. Even those of us on the tightest of budgets should be able to afford $20-70 for a set of resistance bands. This is much cheaper than any other type of home workout equipment or the money you would spend for a couple of months of a gym membership!
- They provide a different kind of training stimulus. For the experienced gym junkies out there, you’ll be glad to know that studies indicate that bands work your muscles in a completely different way. Unlike free weights which generate peak tension at the bottom of the movement, bands generate constant tension throughout the movement. And this is beneficial for muscle size and strength gains!
- Bands build muscle just as well as expensive weights. Who said you need expensive dumbbells, barbells, or even kettlebells to build muscle and get ripped at home? A 2019 study has shown that resistance band movements stimulate muscles for growth just as effectively as free weight exercises.
- Resistance bands are great for training stabilizers. These are the small muscles surrounding your primary target muscle that become activated during an exercise to maintain control. Bands are great for working the stabilizers since you need to work hard to keep them in alignment. And greater stabilizer activation leads to a stronger calorie burn, better muscle gains, and increased strength development!
- Bands are versatile and give great exercise variety. All types of popular free weight exercises can be replicated on any decent model like the Undersun Fitness bands. Bench press, squat, deadlift, shoulder press, row, and curls. These movements, and more, can be performed using cost-effective resistance bands!
- They are relatively safe for beginners. Resistance bands are unique because, unlike free weights, they don’t weigh a lot in the resting state. It’s only when you stretch them that they begin providing resistance. This makes them a safe way for novices to start working out at home.
- Bands are great for post-injury rehabilitation. There’s a reason why resistance bands are so popular with physiotherapists. They’re a lot less stressful on the joints and bones compared to free weights, and studies have advocated them as a great way of rehabilitating muscles after an injury. If you suffer from shoulder, knee, elbow, or hip pain, then resistance bands may well be worth your money.
- They are suitable for all training levels. Resistance bands are used by all types of people, from beginners to elite athletes. It doesn’t matter if you’ve just started working out or if you’re a competition-level bodybuilder. Resistance bands have a place in any home gym, making them popular items that are worth the money for most people.
- They are easy to isolate different muscle groups. Resistance bands are a convenient and cost-effective way to train single muscle groups at home. Trying to build bigger biceps? maybe you’re looking to tone your shoulders, arms or abs? Bands allow you to do this without having to visit the local gym!
- Resistance bands are extremely convenient. A lot of us live in small apartments with very little workout and storage space for bulky gym equipment. That’s where bands shine. They take up very little space during workouts and in storage. They’ll fit on any shelf, hook, or cupboard you have at home!
- They are great for travel workouts. Are you going on a road trip? Maybe a business trip? Chances are you’re not going to be lugging a 50lb dumbbell in your luggage. Bands are light, flexible, and can be stuffed into the smallest of backpacks. This makes them awesome for working out on the go.
- They are an affordable way to add resistance to free weights. It’s not rare for people to outgrow their current dumbbell, barbell, or kettlebell over time. When this happens, you’ll probably be looking for ways to increase weight without having to buy a completely new set of weights. Resistance bands like the Undersun Fitness can be looped around the body and the weight itself to provide extra resistance cost-effectively!
All in all, there are many reasons why resistance bands are worth it.
And this is why they are so popular with all types of people!
Why It May Not Be Worth Buying Resistance Bands
Despite resistance bands gaining immense popularity over the years due to the reasons mentioned above, you should also be aware of their drawbacks.
Here are some of the reasons why I think resistance bands may not be worth your time and money:
- Resistance band workouts can be boring. Speaking from experience as a 10-year gym junkie, I can say I’m not the biggest fan of resistance band workouts. Yes, they’re super convenient and yes they do work to build muscle, lose fat, and tone at home. But they’re just not as mentally stimulating as using dumbbells, kettlebells, or a barbell. That’s just my opinion. Beginners who have never worked out before will not have a point of comparison and won’t be able to tell the difference.
- Low perceived value makes it easier to not use them. Again this is just a personal insight I’ve gleaned from my previous training experience. Since resistance bands are so cheap, it becomes easier to justify shoving them to the back of the wardrobe to gather dust. This makes your resistance bands completely not worth it!
- Bands can be dangerous at high tension levels. Although resistance bands are generally considered to be safer than free weights, they aren’t 100% injury-proof. They can build up a lot of tension when stretched to their limits. And accidentally letting go of the band in this state can cause it to snap back into your body. Be careful and you’ll be fine.
- Resistance bands typically last under 2 years. As affordable as they are, bands usually don’t last more than 24 months. Now, that’s for the budget tube bands on Amazon (the ones that cost ~25 bucks). Premium models like the Undersun Fitness bands will last you for years but they are slightly more expensive.
- Users need to actively push themselves. Resistance bands generate the greatest tension during the top of a movement where the band reaches maximum stretch. In comparison, free weights generate the greatest tension at the bottom of a movement. As a result, you need to mentally focus on pushing yourself as you go through a band exercise to reap the full training benefits. This can be difficult for beginners!
How Much Resistance Bands Cost
On average, resistance bands cost around $30 for a set or $0.25 per pound of resistance. However, prices can vary considerably based on the quality and type of resistance band. Circular loop bands are generally much more durable and cost at least twice as much as tube bands.
The table below shows you how much resistance bands should cost:
|Resistance Band||Type||Total Resistance Of All Bands Combined||Price||Cost Per Lb|
|Example 1||Circular loop band||74lbs||$12.95||$0.18|
|Example 2||Circular loop band||115lbs||$12.99||$0.11|
|Example 3||Circular loop band||325lbs||$42.49||$0.13|
|Example 4||Circular loop band||300lbs||$78.95||$0.26|
|Example 5||Tube band||15lbs||$11.49||$0.77|
|Example 6||Tube band||100lbs||$22.68||$0.15|
|Example 7||Tube band||150lbs||$24.97||$0.16|
|Example 8||Tube band||100lbs||$34.99||$0.23|
I’ve replaced the model names with “Example 1, 2, 3, etc” because Amazon doesn’t like bloggers giving price details on our posts (since prices are regularly updated).
But the selection above is a fair representation of the overall resistance band market, inclusive of both budget and premium models.
How Much Should You Spend On Resistance Bands?
A person is typically recommended to spend between $25 to $70 on a set of resistance bands. This helps to ensure a good quality set of bands is purchased. A complete set should contain between 3 to 5 individual resistance bands each offering different tension levels between 10-50lbs (or more).
Now, this is just a general recommendation.
In reality, you have to consider what’s best for YOU!
The decision table below should help you decide how much you want to spend on bands:
|Resistance Band Feature||Why The Feature Is Beneficial||Expected Price To Pay|
|Single bands||Great for beginners who want to try resistance band workouts for the first time||$10-15|
|Set of bands||Good for people who are sure they want to start training with resistance bands.||$25-70|
|Tube-shaped bands||Cost-effective type of resistance band but lacks durability.||$25|
|Circular loop-shaped bands||Superior durability but costs slightly more.||$50-70|
|Low-quality rubber||Cost-effective but low durability.||$25|
|High-quality rubber||Superior durability but costs more.||$70|
Here’s how to spot the differences in resistance band features:
- Single vs a set of bands. Pretty self-explanatory really. Singles are sold as one and sets are sold as 3-5 or more bands. Don’t rely on pics alone. Some sellers display a pic of multiple bands but are only selling one.
- Tube vs loop bands. Tube bands are long tubular-shaped pieces of hollow rubber that aren’t joined at the ends. They usually come with a selection of handles and carabiner accessories to attach to the ends. Loop bands are usually circular-shaped and a flat piece of rubber joined at both ends.
- Low- vs high-quality rubber. Low-quality rubbers are usually synthetic. High-quality rubbers are usually natural (e.g. natural latex).
Generally speaking, I would always recommend a set of loop bands made from high-quality rubber. These are not much more expensive than budget bands (30 or so more bucks), but they last a lot longer and often have a lifetime warranty.
I currently use and recommend the Undersun bands (they fit the above requisites).
Do Amazon And Reddit Think Resistance Bands Are Worth It?
I honestly think resistance bands are worth the money.
But what do other people think?
After the opinion of a collective group is much more valuable than a single person right?
To find out if other people think resistance bands are worth it, I took to Amazon and Reddit.
Amazon generally thinks resistance bands are good value for money!
For each of the resistance bands given in the previous cost table (see section “how much do resistance bands cost”), I also checked out their percentage of positive vs negative reviews:
|Resistance Band||% Amazon Reviews ≥4||% Amazon Reviews ≤ 4|
You can see that 90% of Amazon customers were extremely happy with their resistance band purchase.
Only 5% did not feel their resistance bands were worth it.
“[The Undersun resistance bands] are awesome Investments, and I happen to buy thousands of dollars worth of equipment.”Kelvin, Amazon
Reddit also agrees that resistance bands are worth it!
I tracked down the following Reddit threads which asked:
Then I compiled all the responses and here are the results:
You can see that a whopping 90% of Reddit users agree that resistance bands are indeed worth it!
As mentioned previously in this post, I would always advise spending the extra few dollars on a good set of bands that will last you for a long time.
How Popular Are Bands And Are They In Demand?
Resistance bands are generally very popular. In terms of absolute units sold globally, they are the best-selling types of resistance training equipment. More bands have been sold than dumbbells, kettlebells, and barbells. Additionally, they are projected to become even more popular in the future.
I tracked down the best-selling models in each training equipment category shown in the table below:
|Home Training Equipment Category||Total Units Sold On Amazon|
|Circular loop resistance bands||105,990|
|Tube resistance bands||27,093|
|Spinlock adjustable dumbbells||15,361|
|Selectorized adjustable dumbbells||16,417|
|Barbell and rack||6,628|
I admit that the study is a bit crude, but you can still see that resistance bands have sold almost 45% more total units than their closest competitor, dumbbells (133,083 vs 91,784).
Furthermore, a study by Grand View Research estimates that the global resistance band market is expected to grow at a compound annual growth rate of 12.4% from 2019 to 2025 to reach US$1,615.7 million by 2025.
In comparison, another study by Business Wire estimates that dumbbells are only expected to grow by 3% from 2020 to 23 and reach US$272.46 million.
This shows you just how popular and in-demand resistance bands are!
Why are resistance bands so popular?
Well, I’ve already given you a whole list of reasons (see section “why resistance bands are worth it”).
But another reason is the increasing popularity of bands with healthcare professionals due to their tension profile making them great for rehabilitating injuries.
Are Bands Considered To Be Expensive?
Resistance bands are not considered to be expensive equipment. They are in fact, relatively cheap compared to other types of equipment such as dumbells, kettlebells, and barbells. A set of bands can cost up to $70, whereas a set of free weights can cost over $500 (depending on the model).
The resistance band vs free weight table below gives you a better understanding of why resistance bands are considered to be much cheaper than weights:
|Home Training Equipment Category||Typical Price For A Fully Functioning Set|
|Circular loop resistance bands||$40-70|
|Tube resistance bands||$10-25|
|Barbell and rack||$500-1000|
These are representative costs of what you would expect to pay on average for each type of resistance training equipment.
There will of course be high and low outliers depending on the model in question.
But you can generally see that resistance bands are much cheaper than weights.
Not only is the outright price cheaper, but the cost per lb is also significantly cheaper.
Where resistance bands usually cost around $0.25 per lb, free weights usually cost up to $5 per lb.
Resistance Bands: Good Investment Or Worthless Gimmick?
Generally speaking, resistance bands are a good investment and not a gimmick. They are versatile and can be used to achieve a variety of training goals which include building muscle, losing fat, and toning the body. However, it is worth noting that cheap bands can break easily.
Here’s a list of training goals you can achieve with resistance bands and what they are effective for:
|Training Goal||How To Use Resistance Bands To Effectively Reach Goal|
|Build muscle and bodybuilding||8-15 reps per set per exercise, compound movements supplemented by isolation movements, calorie surplus, high protein intake.|
|Burn belly fat and weight loss||15-20 reps per set per exercise, compound movements, calorie deficit, high protein intake.|
|Get ripped||8-15 reps per set, compound movements supplemented by isolation movements, calorie deficit, high protein intake.|
|Tone arms||Bicep curls, tricep extensions, rows, and presses, 15 reps per set per exercise, mild calorie deficit, high protein intake.|
|Post-injury rehabilitation||Light band exercises targeting the affected muscle group region.|
|Yoga and pilates||Loop a light band around the arms and legs to add extra resistance to exercises.|
|Build abs||Ab crunches and sit-up-type movements using a resistance band and door anchor.|
|Compound strength movements||Push-ups, rows, squats, deadlifts, shoulder presses, and their variations can all be performed with bands.|
|Isolation strength movements||Curls, extensions, lateral raises, ab crunches, and their variations can all be performed with bands.|
|Active stretching and warm-ups||Complete 1-3 sets of the banded variation of an exercise you intend to perform.|
|Adding resistance to free weights||Loop the bands around the free weight or your body to increase resistance.|
|Adding resistance to bodyweight circuits||Resistance band exercises can be performed in a circuit-style workout for maximum fat-burning benefits.|
All in all, resistance bands are not a pointless gimmick.
They can give you a highly effective workout when used properly.
Bands can be used as a replacement for weights, but in my opinion, they are most effective when used in conjunction with free weights.
To get the best out of your investment, I would recommend getting a premium set of bands.
These cost a little more than budget models, but a good set like the Undersuns come with a lifetime warranty.
I’ve been using mine pretty intensively for over 3 years and I still haven’t had to replace them!
Alternatively, you could go for a budget tube band.
These will cost less money upfront, but you shouldn’t expect them to last you more than 2 years.
If you want to go down this route, I’d recommend the Whatafit bands.
They’ve been the best budget bands I’ve tested.
But they will eventually break and you’ll have to get a replacement set.
I’ve explained whether or not resistance bands are worth it and how much they should cost.
Serving as a cheap and effective way to work out at home, I’d say resistance bands are definitely worth the money (Reddit and Amazon seem to agree too).
But if you want to get the most bang for your buck, I’d recommend staying away from the budget tube band and spending a bit extra for a premium set of loop bands that gives you a lifetime guarantee.
That’s because- cheap as they may be- resistance bands ARE susceptible to breaking after plonged intense use.
Do you think resistance bands are worth it?
Feel free to send me a message if you have any questions! You can find my details on the “contact us” page.
You may also be interested in the downloadable Kalibre Blueprint PDF which details exactly how I gained 40lbs of lean muscle (it’s 100% free!). It details the exact exercises and nutrition (with printable worksheets) I used to go from skinny to ripped!
Thanks for reading guys!
(Biochemistry BSc, Biomedical Sciences MSc, Ex-Skinny Guy)