Resistance bands -- also called exercise bands -- are popular pieces of fitness equipment. Small enough to fit inside a briefcase, garment bag or purse, resistance bands are also inexpensive enough to fit into just about any budget. You can use resistance bands to tone all areas of your body.
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The best brands of resistance bands come in a variety of styles. Continuous bands resemble large rubber bands; these consist of a single loop of material. Plain bands are simply a strip of material. The best type of bands -- usually known as "resistance cords" -- are often made of braided strips of material. The American College of Sports Medicine recommends avoiding continuous bands, since the bonding point is weak and can break during use. The best resistance bands should have no weak points; since any visible seam is a weak point, look for bands without visible seams.
Not all resistance bands have handles; continuous bands do not have handles, nor do most plain bands; these you simply wrap around your hand. However, you may want to consider buying bands with handles. Swivel handles allow you to work different muscle groups without extensive repositioning, according to "Good Housekeeping" magazine. Also, the best bands with handles are usually made of more pieces of material, making them less likely to snap during use, reports the American College of Sports Medicine.
Ace Fitness, the website of the American Council on Exercise, has published resistance band reviews. The council recommends SPRI StrengthCords. The bands feature a strong, braided material and soft foam swivel handles. They are color-coded and numbered, from easy to difficult, helping you keep track of your progress as you tone and gain strength. However, the council states these bands tend to be a bit more expensive than other brands.
Even if you buy the best resistance bands on Earth, they won't do you much good if you don't use them properly. The American College of Sports Medicine recommends checking your bands before each use. Look for worn or stretched areas and replace the band if you find any. Otherwise, even a high-quality band could snap, hitting you in the face. Don't rely on a band's age to tell you if it's safe to use; bands wear out based on how often they are used, not how much time has passed since you bought them. Also, do the right amount of exercise; the council recommends 10 to 12 reps per exercise.