A guide to buying the best resistance/exercise bands.

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There are many different resistance bands available out there, and normally that would be a good thing, however unfortunately they vary massively when it comes to quality, durability, and honesty.
This guide will help you find top quality bands every time, by looking for 5 simple but important factors  before you purchase.

 

Factor 1. how are the bands made?

The very first thing you should look at when buying a resistance band or resistance band kit, above all else, is how the bands are made.  This ultimately determines not only how long they will last, but also how the resistance/tension will feel when using them.  I will attempt to explain this below...

 

There are two main ways of making the tubular resistance bands, which are the bands you will need for workout programs such as P90X etc and for creating a home gym or cable machine type set up.

 

The most common bands are single layered  bands, which are  basically one piece molded rubber tubes. The technical term for these bands  is "Extruded".  These are the bands you will need to avoid.

 

Extruded bands, because they are just a single piece of latex, will soon begin to tear if they get a tiny nick or tear in them, which is not good news and is also dangerous as it will snap whilst in use!

Extruded bands are normally rated well above their actual ratings in order to fool buyers in to thinking they are going to offer more resistance than they actually do (more about this later).

 

The best bands, by a mile, are Multi-Layered bands, which are made by dipping a long thin rod in to a vat of liquid latex many times until the desired thickness is achieved, which creates many many layers and an  extremely strong long lasting band. These layers look like lots of rings similar to a target (see image below). The technical term for this process is called "continuous dipping".

Below is what the inside of a layered band looks like, you can easily see the many layers. If a seller claims their band is layered, but you can't see them under a light or with a magnifying glass easily, then it isn't.










These bands will not tear easily, as a tiny nick will only affect the outer layers, and they can also be stretched a lot more without quickly losing their original length and tension. They are designed to take some serious everyday punishment.

 

Very few manufacturers use the layered  process as it is costly and much more time consuming, however many will pretend that their bands are dipped or layered in order to fool the consumer in to thinking they have a bargain, when in actual fact they have just purchased cheap bands worth a quarter of what they paid. 

 

Factor 2. Are the given resistance ratings true & realistic?


The sad truth of the matter is that people who make and sell  extruded bands know that if they used realistic ratings, their bands would never sell, so they take the resistance reading when the band is stretched to almost breaking point, which is very rarely going to be reached during normal exercises, so it is extremely misleading, but still legal. Some sellers will just make resistance levels up, I have seen identical bands, exact in every detail, being given 5 totally different ratings by different sellers.








To the left is an image of  ElastiTone band (left) and a cheap band purchased from another eBay seller (right).
As you can clearly see, the walls of the ElastiTone black band are much wider than the competitors, even though the competitors gave their band a higher tension rating...

 

The ElastiTone band reached a tension of almost 50 Lb when stretched around halfway, but the competitor band could only manage a reading of 50 Lb when stretched to 4x its resting length!


Of course they are not all dishonest, but how do you know who is?
In Asia, well known as the home of the largest network of counterfeiters and con artists in the world with very slack counterfeit laws that are almost never enforced anyway, you can find almost anything at a cheap price, and most of what is for sale is cheap for a reason!  It is either fake (brand name consumer products are always fake when seen on Alibaba) or low quality! 

 

In fact, because most of what is sold on eBay was likely originally purchased from Alibaba, you should never ever under any circumstances buy anything new at all that is a brand name at a stupidly cheap price from eBay, UNLESS it is from a known company such as Argos, Tesco, Walmart etc. This is a shame as it spoils it for honest sellers but is also a fact. From Gibson guitars to Bose earphones, even top of the line generators, they have all been faked and sold on eBay, often with bidding to make them seem second hand. Not everything is fake, but how do you know what is and isn't without consulting an expert first? Once you buy it, it's too late. Never fall for cheap prices!

 

Visit Aliexpress , Alibaba's version of eBay, and type in resistance bands and you will be bombarded with resistance band sets costing as little as 10 dollars per set, and many of these are advertised as being double dipped or layered to make them sound more appealing to the clueless people out there looking to make fast cash on eBay, and the sad fact of the matter is that 99% of people who buy them have never ever seen or used a layered resistance band in their entire life, they have no idea at all what one should look like, and just presume that the seller is honest. They then buy a truck load and sell them on eBay from as little as £11 a set, advertising them also as being dipped or layered, because they don't know any better.

 

The only way to know for sure is to ask the seller for a clear photo of the inside of a band, which should show the many layers, if they cannot do this, move on until you find a seller who can.

 

Factor 3. Does it have a clip system?

The second thing to look at when buying resistance bands, is if it has a clip system and if so, how strong the hooks or rings are and how they are attached to the bands.  If they do not have hooks or rings and instead just have handles attached to the bands, then don't waste your money, because you will be stuck with just one max resistance level per band, forever!

 

With a clip system you can add as many bands to the handles as you want, e.g. you could add a 50lb and a 10lb band to the handles at the same time, giving you 60lbs, but if the bands do not have a clip system, then you cannot do this, and will be limited not only by resistance levels but also by what exercises you can perform, as the bands which have handles attached are pretty bad for using with many leg exercises and are mostly only suited to upper body exercises.

 

Most of the bands you will see on eBay use extremely poor quality hooks or rings, which were designed for use on key rings and are not meant to be constantly pulled on and clipped / un-clipped. They are tiny, about 30mm (3cm), and are a complete pain in the neck to attach and un-attach.

There are some that use bigger 60mm (6cm) hooks, but they are just very light basic aluminium, with weak poorly made catches that eventually fail, and once a catch fails the band then cannot be used. A bands lifetime is only as good as the hooks on the end!

 

Try to buy bands that have large hooks and/or rings, which will enable easy and fast changes, and will be much more durable. 70-80mm  carabiners are best.

 







 

Factor 4. What are the components like?

Another thing to look at is the components, e.g. the handles, anchors etc. If the handles  are small (about 11cm wide) then most people will find that they are too hard to use as the straps on the sides will constantly rub against the side of the hand during many exercises, and you will soon start to find the skin develops soreness. Try to find handles that are at least 13cm wide as this is wide enough to avoid that happening.

 

Also if you can find a set that has a  door anchor and padded ankle straps, even better.

The door anchor fits to any door, and you attach your bands to it to make them in to a portable cable machine/home gym. If the loop were the bands fit through is not padded, then the material will just rub against the bands, causing friction, which in turn produces heat, which will damage the bands, unless the bands have a sleeve.






A high quality door anchor compared to a standard door anchor found in the cheaper sets.







Standard handle compared too and an extra large handle.

The standard handle did at one point have foam on but it became damaged so was removed for the photo. not only is the handle smaller, but so are the side straps, which adds to the rubbing problem against the skin.

 

Factor 5. How safe are the bands?

Almost all bands can potentially injure the user seriously, even causing blindness if the user stretches the band to far (easily done), as it will break and fly towards them at extreme speed, at least giving them a nasty sting, and at worst putting their eye out. ALL rubber is capable of snapping if pulled too far, no rubber is snap proof, this is impossible to create, however you can now buy Anti-Snap Extra Safe bands!

 

The Safety Sleeve has 3 main functions...

Anti-Snap: The sleeve will only allow the user to stretch the bands up to a maximum distance of 5 meters, beyond this the sleeve will physically prevent the user from stretching it any further and breaking the band. This stops the user from snapping or tearing bands by accidentally over stretching them, a common problem with resistance bands.

 

The sleeves work in a similar fashion to the only other existing Anti-Snap technology, which is a piece of cord inside the band, but with the two added benefits below..

 

Anti-Wear: The sleeves also help protect the tubing inside the sleeve against wear from scuffs, scrapes and scratches etc, meaning they will last much longer than other brands. Also the band will not become stained by the rubber on the users trainers or be affected by the friction, which was found to be a rather annoying problem with many trainers.

The sleeve also protects the bands from UV damage, as it is proven that sunlight degrades and discolours latex over time. If you use your bands outdoors a lot in the summer, sleeves are a must!

 

Anti-Injury: If a user does somehow manage to snap a band, e.g. the band was defective, it will snap inside the sleeve and the user will not be hit by the band as it flys towards them at great speed (OUCH!), making ElastiTone bands not only the strongest around, but also one of the safest!

The sleeve material has excellent resistance to Mildew, Acids, Alkalis, Oils and Greece, good resistance against UV rays, and will not absorb water, so is perfect for outdoor use and you don't have to worry about rain or sweat ruining the sleeve. It is also very strong and should easily take the full force of a person pulling against it. I personally have been able to hang from the sleeve, and I weigh 12.5 stone.

 

Of course there is a chance still, all be it a very small chance, that a band may still break, so ElastiTone offer a 5 year snap warranty and free replacement of any bands that do snap, as long as you keep the protective sleeve on.








The above picture shows an ElastiTone Sleeved Anti-Snap band, and below an example of a full resistance band set.

TOP BRANDS COMPARISON CHART

 

 

ElastiTone

Bodylastics

Ripcords

Lifeline USA

B LINES
( P90X)

MULTI LAYERED TUBING

YES

YES

NO

YES

NO

ANTI-SNAP

YES

YES

NO

NO

NO

ANTI-WEAR
(Protects bands from scratches, nicks, abrasion, scuffs etc)

YES

NO

NO

NO

NO

INJURY PREVENTION
(Stops the band from hitting the user at great speed IF it snaps)

YES

NO

NO

NO

NO

STACKABLE BANDS
(User can use more than 1 band at a time to create more resistance and combinations, essential for strong people in our opinion)

YES

(Zinc plated 70mm Iron Carabineers on the components, rings on the bands)

YES

(Rings on the components, 70mm carabineers on the bands)

NO

YES

(3 grooves in the plastic handles to hold the bands)

NO

CHARGE FREE LIFETIME DEFECTS WARRANTY
(Covers the user against manufacturer caused defects/issues)

YES

No need to return defective parts, a photo via email will suffice. All postage costs will be covered. Warranty is forever!

NO

No need to return defective parts but customers must pay more postage costs after 90 days for replacements to be sent to them.

NO

Customer must return defective products at their own expense AND pay a shipping fee for replacements.

NO

Customer must return defective products at their own expense.

UNKNOWN

No info shown on site that we can find.

CHARGE FREE 100% SATISFACTION GUARANTEE

(excluding return shipping price)

YES

100 days!

NO

There is a restocking fee if you are not satisfied.

YES

90 days

YES

90 days

YES

30 days


I hope this guide teaches everyone who reads it the truth about resistance bands, and helps them make an informed decision on where to buy.

Of course if you are based in the EU I would recommend you buy ElastiTone, but I am a little biased so it is your choice.

Dave

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