Resistance bands can make a huge difference in your calisthenics progression.
It’s no secret that muscle memory accounts for at least 50% of progression in calisthenics, and with resistance bands, you can work on this important component even if you don’t necessarily have the strength to complete the exercise.
However, buying resistance bands isn’t as simple as you might think. Here are some questions that we will be addressing today:
- Just how much resistance should you look for in your bands
- Are all bands made equal? Or are there quality differences?
- What exercises can bands be used to improve?
All this and more in today’s installment of fresh calisthenics content.
Our Budget Choice
But before we dive in…
How do Resistance Bands Work?
In calisthenics, rubber bands work by basically alleviating your body weight, allowing you to work on harder progressions.
Common exercises that can benefit from this piece of gear include Pull-ups, chin-ups, muscle-ups, front and back lever, dips, and many more.
If, for example, your keen on improving your pull-ups, but you simply can’t make more than 1 or 2 reps, you can attach a resistance band to the pull-up bar, grabbing the band with your feet.
This will take pressure off your upper body and will give you an extra push going up.
Outside of calisthenics, these bands are often used to warm up and even to work out.
We personally like to use rubber bands to activate the shoulders pre-workout, as the video below shows:
How much resistance should I look for in my bands?
We recommend buying at least 3 resistance bands: One lightweight, one medium, and one heavy. This will give you enough variety to try all kinds of exercises.
To give you an idea of the impact of the use of the band, subtract the resistance of the band to your weight.
So, if, for example, you’re looking to improve on your pull-up, and weight 170 lbs, adding a 80 lbs resistance band will bring your weight down to 90 lbs, which is much more manageable.
It is very important that you check the amount of resistance every rubber band offers before buying, as you might find that particulars models are too light or too heavy for your demands.
Best Calisthenics Resistance Bands
Our #1 Overall Choice: Undersun 5-band Set
If you’re looking for a customer favorite, no-thrills, high quality set of bands that will last you years, we can’t recommend undersun’s set enough.
This is your standard pull up bar rubber band set. It’s affordable, durable, and comes in a great range of sizes.
It doesn’t come with handles, so it is more appropriate to use for warming up and in conjunction with the parallel or pull up bars.
The undersun 5-band Set comes with five bands with the following resistance levels:
- X-light: 0.25” thickness, 5 to 15lbs of resistance
- Light: 0,5” thickness, 15 to 25lbs of resistance
- Medium: 0.7” thickness, 30 to 60lbs of resistance
- Heavy: 1.3” thickness, 45 to 60 lbs of resistance
- X-heavy: 1.7” thickness, 50 to 120lbs of resistance
Basically, they covered all grounds with this set and you’ll be able to progress through all difficulty levels until you don’t need the bands anymore.
Another reason why this is a consumer favorite is that they also offer access to their workout program through an app and give you a lifetime warranty.
You’ll also be supporting a family owned business that in our experience has great customer service.
- Set of 5 Pullup Assistance Workout Bands with Free Week Workout Program & Door Anchor.
- Stretching, Mobility & Powerlifting Resistance Bands
- Sustainable Materials
- Includes access to workout program
- Lifetime Warranty
- 5 resistance levels
Our Budget Choice: FFexs Bands
If price is your concern, we’ve found the ffex bands to be a good option.
The product quality isn’t as good as Undersun’s, but they get the job done and if not used excessively and carelessly, will last a good period of time.
Our #1 Resistance Band with Handles Choice: Stroops Resistance 90
If you’re looking for a set of resistance bands that you can use to do a full workout, you’ll want to buy a pair that comes with handles.
Of the many sets we tested, stroops was by far the most beginner friendly.
Their resistance 90 model comes with a resistance of 15 to 30 lbs and can be seen as a mix of traditional resistance bands to use in the pull up and dip bars, with the TRX, allowing you to do a whole set of exercises outside of bars.
For a more in-depth review, please read this article.
Which exercises can be done with resistance bands?
Well, pretty much all exercises can.
If you have a bar that sits at around waist height, for example a set of portable parallel bars, you can do band assisted push-ups.
If you have a pull-up bar, you can try planches, muscle-ups, pull-ups, front and back levers, pull-up bar dips, etc. We’ve written an article on pull-up bar only exercises which includes a whole list of exercises that can be done with the aid of rubber bands.
We also have a complete list of calisthenics exercises from which you can gather some inspiration.
Finally, we leave you with a great video introduction to resistance bands in calisthenics:
We hope we’ve encouraged you to invest a few dollars in a set of durable and varied resistance bands.
If you need any more help or feedback, please leave a comment below.
Chris is an experienced Calisthenics practitioner focused on isometric exercises and street workout. He founded thehybridathlete.com in 2017, which was subsequently acquired by theyhybridathlete.com
He is based in Portland and has been working out using solely his own body weight and bars for the past 6 years.