Dumbbells are great and having a home gym is the ultimate luxury, but if you want a fitness tool that's affordable, incredibly effective and takes up next to no space, then you need a resistance band. Or two or three. These stretchy staples offer a gym's worth of moves to enhance your at-home workouts.
Use them to add extra intensity to your bodyweight motions like pushups and squats. Loop them around your foot or a secure column and you can do curls, rows and various fly moves for your chest, shoulders and back. The options are seemingly endless.
One of the greatest advantages of these bands is that they can be used by athletes and novices alike, says Mike Donavanik, a certified personal trainer and founder of Sweat Factor, a streaming service offering a myriad of trainer-led workouts. He regularly uses them himself—both when he works out and when he's training clients. And it's why a band kit is the latest edition to Tom Brady's TB12 line of gear that's focused on conditioning and “pliability,” a combination of strength and elasticity that limits inflammation in the body.
That's the thing about these bands. There's a calm control that comes with using them. Dumbbells can feel, well, heavy and unsteady. But because of their rubbery instability, resistance bands offer much better feedback and require more concentrated effort. They also provide better proprioception than standard free weights as the stretched band fights you with each pull. Does that make them better than say a dumbbell or kettlebell? Not exactly. They're both vital tools. But when you want something that's easy to carry or you can't get to the gym, these will deliver results. To help you find the bands that work for you, we asked Donavanik to point us in the right direction.