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Resistance bands have exploded in popularity over the last decade. And for good reason, they are extremely versatile, effective, and they are wonderfully portable. Resistance bands have become a staple for every commercial gym, crossfit box, and fitness enthusiast…However, it should be understood that not all resistance bands are created equal. Some are simply more useful, more effective, and better quality. So, how to choose the right resistance band? That's where this comparison comes in handy. We are here to help with your decision by presenting you with the Battle of the Bands: Loop Resistance Bands vs Resistance Tubes with Handles.
Now, although there are many different types of resistance bands (read that if you want to know about all the different kinds), we can immediately simplify things by only discussing the two most popular and useful bands: Loop Resistance Bands and Tube Bands with Handles.
We are going to dig in deep with this comparison, so together we can decipher which is better for you…Flat Bands or Resistance Bands with Handles…
Did you notice how we’ve used various names for the two types of bands already? This is another aspect of resistance bands that can be confusing for first-time buyers. Therefore, it is good to know various terms for both types of resistance bands... So, we will begin with that.
Often times, sellers use names like resistance bands, exercise bands, workout bands, elastic fitness bands interchangeably, for all the different kinds of resistance bands. So, it is important to also know what you are looking at.
The two most popular bands, which we are comparing today, are both most commonly referred to as “resistance bands”.
Let’s have a look at pictures, descriptions of their shape, structure, appearance, and the different, more specific names for the two.
These bands are most often referred to simply as Resistance Bands. However, if you were to google 'resistance bands', you’d see all different kinds of resistance bands pop up. With the majority being mini loop bands.
So, to further differentiate, they are called the following names:
Note: These are not to be confused with booty bands (aka hip circle bands and mini bands). Not to worry though, they have a look that is distinct enough to notice in pictures. Although Booty Bands are one continuous loop, they are not as long, and they are the same width (just different thickness depending on the size, which is opposite to these 41" big dog bands).
These bands are most often referred to as Resistance Bands too, or, Resistance Bands with Handles.
To further differentiate the names, here are more accurate descriptions and names used for Resistance Bands with Handles:
So, it’s not rocket science, obviously. The easiest way to spot the different is one is flat and a continuous loop with varying widths, and the other is tubular shaped with handles at the ends. And we don’t mean to explain this like we are talking to a child. Really, the point was to make the names for the two clear as we move forward with our comparison of "loop resistance bands or resistance tubes with handles, how to choose?"
When it comes down to it, both loop resistance bands and resistance tubes with handles are made to increase or add resistance to exercises and movements, and they are low impact on the joints. They both use elastic force to create resistance. Thus, they are similar in nature.
That said, there are a lot of factors that make them very different. And it should not be overlooked.
So, to make this comparison as thorough as possible, we will break it down into the following categories:
By looking at and comparing each of these categories, it should be easy to choose between resistance bands or resistance tubes with handles.
The biggest difference and determining factor between the two comes down to their uses and the exercises you can do with them.
Loop Resistance Bands Uses & Exercises
Flat, loop resistance bands can be used for the following aspects of fitness:
As for exercises, you can hit any plane of motion and replicate any traditional free weight exercise with these resistance bands. Moreover, you can target all the joint complexes for mobilization purposes and to strengthen them.
Read more about how to use loop resistance bands.
Resistance Tubes with Handles
Resistance tubes with handles uses:
As you can see, resistance tubes aren’t as versatile in their uses but they are in terms of replicating traditional exercises like pressing and pulling movements. They are almost like a dumbbell and a cable pulley in one. What’s more, most brands come with an ankle strap, so you can do effective glute kickback exercises (targeting the booty).
In our opinion, this is the most important aspect when choosing between the two.
Clearly loop resistance bands are way more versatile. It’s not even a contest. The only advantage resistance band with tubes have over loop resistance bands is that they are easier to use for pressing and pulling exercises simply because of the handles. However, once you get used to the loop bands, it’s all the same. And, in fact, your grip strength will improve from loop resistance bands, as gripping something that isn’t perfectly round and balanced, like handles, will challenge your grip strength more.
If you want to just do push and pressing exercises, maybe go for resistance bands with handles. But if you want the option to improve on all aspects of fitness, loop bands are the way to go. Moreover, if you aren't doing much mobility work, and other important pillars of fitness, the loop bands will help motivate you to start as they are probably the most effective fitness tool for mobility and flexibility.
So, the winner for this one is easily Loop Resistance Bands.
We won’t separate this category, as there isn’t as much to discuss about this point.
With more uses comes a larger learning curve. If you want to use loop resistance bands for mobility, stretching, pairing with weights, etc., you will need to watch videos to learn how to use them correctly in these ways. As for simple pulling and pressing exercises, if you have any experience with weightlifting, you can immediately pick up either loop resistance bands or resistance bands with handles and use them for that purpose. Of course, the resistance bands with handles will be easier in this aspect.
Now, if we are talking ease of use in terms of comfortably, loop resistance bands win for body comfortably but lose for hands.
Loop resistance bands provide even pressure on the body, whereas tube bands have a more concentrated pressure when it’s against your body due simply to its shape. However, resistance bands will be harder on the hands for certain pressing and pulling exercises. That's a positive thing if you want stronger hands, though. Whereas pain on your body as the tube digs into isn't going to benefit you in any way.
More to this point, flat loop bands are easier on the joints, which make them easier to use for those with joint issues (senior/old folks) and for kids.
Ease of use for pressing, pulling, and full body workouts goes to Resistance tubes with Handles. However, keep in mind, you will be limited to how you can use them. The only reason they are easier to use is because handles make things easier when it comes to certain exercises. If you were to try to use resistance tubes with handles for other purposes like stretching, mobility, etc., loop resistance bands will be much easier to use effectively, bar none.
But really it’s a tie because comfort is part of ease of use, and overall, flat bands offer a more comfortable experience as they don’t put as much pressure on your body, and for many exercises, the bands will be pressing against your body and arms.
Let’s now take into consideration how much resistance loop bands and resistance tubes offer.
Resistance = Equivalent to Free Weight
Loop Resistance Bands
If you were to buy a full set of the 41” loop resistance bands, you will have 5lb to 175-200lbs of resistance. That's a massive range.
All bands are 41” long, so we are looking at width only:
Each band has a range that is quite wide as it depends on how far the band is stretched when beginning the exercise. Moreover, as you extend the band through the movement (i.e. as you press up), the band will increase in resistance, unlike free weights, which stay the same weight for the entire movement.
Note: When using the bands for assistance, you will have the same amount of pounds in assistance. So, for a person around 175LBS, the 2.5” wide loop resistance band will provide you with essentially an equal amount of assistance as your bodyweight. Therefore if you did a pull up using the biggest gray band for help, the pull up would be very easy.
Resistance Tube with Handles
Most sets of tube bands with handles range from 10 to 50 pounds of resistance.
The bands are naturally more taut, so the levels of resistance for each size aren’t as wide. Usually each tube has a range of 5 pounds (i.e. 10-15 pounds).
We are giving this one to Loop Resistance Bands as they have a greater range of resistance. This gives you a lot more potential to get stronger and build muscle.
However, it should be noted that because the range of resistance within each band is smaller for tube bands, they are easier to progressively overload…The keyword is “easier” though, as it’s still not like free weights where it is exact. Plus, if you know how to listen to your body and do exercises from the correct starting position, you can progressively increase resistance with loop bands just the same.
Although both are rubber-based products, there are some differences to note in the type of rubber. Not to mention durability.
Loop Resistance Bands
Loop resistance bands are made from latex, most commonly natural rubber latex. When talking high quality loop resistance bands (the only ones you should buy), they will have a continuous layering of flat “sheets” of latex.
For example, our bands are made from all natural Malaysian latex and we use a continuous layering process that helps to prevent any type of breakage or tearing. Thanks to this technique, our bands have a very long life. We have customers who’ve been using our bands for years and we’ve never had anyone break their band. Because of the high quality latex and manufacturing process that we use, our resistance bands can stretch up to 2 ½ times their original length. That is far more than a tube resistance band can.
Natural vs Synthetic Latex:
Some resistance bands use synthetic latex. Synthetic latex gives off a much stronger odor (either chemical or rubber) than natural latex as there are different ingredients involved in the manufacturing process for the two. Moreover, synthetic latex is typically less resilient and elastic than natural latex. Natural latex comes from the milky sap of rubber trees in South East Asia. Overall, it is more comfortable, durable, elastic and less smelly than synthetic latex.
Resistance Tubes with Handles
Resistance tubes are made from a rubber compound (also contains latex). They are one thick tube of rubber. Typically people consider resistance tubes to be more durable, but when comparing high quality version of resistance tubes vs flat bands, both will be equally durable.
WINNER - Loop Resistance Bands (and here's why...):
If you purchase high-quality loop resistance bands that use a continuous layering process, the durability will be incredible. They can stretch far more than a resistance tube can, which puts them at less risk of snapping. Moreover, if a flat resistance band was to snap, it would cause far less damage than a tube, due to the layering process. A resistance tube snapping will cause a lot more force. Like an instant pop. The continuous layered flat bands are not likely to snap out of nowhere. Over time they may wear down and you will see tears in the sides of the bands. Once you see this, you can stop using them as eventually they will completely pull apart. But overall, the breaking of a loop band is far slower and far less dangerous.
We will just jump right into the winner on this one…
WINNER - Loop Resistance Bands:
Loop Resistance Bands are more portable. They are flat so they fold up and fit into tight spaces easier (like a suitcase). What’s more, they are lighter than tube bands (unless we are talking the larger sizes like the 2.5 inch width band - that one weigh close if not more than the a tube band, but it also provides a lot more resistance).
All in all, flat loop bands are simply more portable, but both are pretty great in terms of portability.
Cost really depends on the brand and the resistance levels you purchase (most brands allow you to buy each band individually or in sets).
Winner - Loop Resistance Bands:
That said, on average, you will find that flat bands are more cost effective than resistance tubes. More versatility for a better price? Bang. For. Your. Buck.
Just to note, although we sell heavy duty 41” flat loop resistance bands at SET FOR SET, we’ve taken a completely unbiased approach here. To prove that point check out our post on the Best Resistance Bands that highlight a variety of brands.
Ultimately, we want you to get the band that is best for your needs. So, let’s have a look at a quick summary to see which band will be best for you.
Note: You will rarely see high level fitness athletes using tube bands with handles. But you will see tons of pro athletes and fitness trainers utilizing the 41" loop resistance bands. The tube bands are really more for beginners who aren't doing free weights. The loop bands are for all levels, as they offer uses that you really can't find with any other training equipment.
Loop Resistance Bands Pros:
Resistance Tubes with Handles Pros:
So, if you are looking for bands that you can use to do pressing and pulling exercises, and that’s all you care about, go for Resistance Tubes with Handles.
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But if you want resistance bands that you can do and learn so many things with, to improve all areas of your fitness, from explosive training to mobility to pairing with free weights and more, then go for Loop Resistance Bands.
If we had to choose between the two, it would be loop resistance bands, hands down. It’s a far better value as there is so much you can do with them, and for us, fitness isn’t just about pressing and pulling. What’s more, and what really seals the deal for us is…you can literally do EVERYTHING that you can with Resistance bands with handles plus a whole lot more. Literally, there’s nothing that you can do with a resistance tube with handles that you can’t with loop bands. But you can't say the same vice versa, not even close...Plus, if handles mean so much to you, you can just buy a carabiner and some handles/ankle strap and vualá, you have resistance bands with handles and an ankle cuff. It’s truly a no brainer, but we’ll leave the final decision up to you…we all have preferences and fitness goals.
If you do want loop resistance bands, you can purchase them from us at SET FOR SET - Resistance Bands. We have the best bands in the game. Check our reviews as they speak to that.
We appreciate your time reading this post.
Your support means a lot to us…Feel free to leave a comment below if you want to share your thoughts or if you have any questions.
At SET FOR SET, we strive to equip you with the tools and knowledge needed for your fitness journey. Our team of experts, including certified trainers, dietitians, and athletes, brings over a decade of industry expertise. Our goal is to be your primary resource for all fitness inquiries, guiding you toward a stronger and healthier life. Sign up to stay up-to-date!