7 Effective Resistance Band Alternatives

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Resistance bands can offer many benefits but you may want other options. What are some alternatives to resistance bands with similar benefits?

A resistance band is a type of fitness equipment that is basically an elastic cord. You can use this piece of exercise equipment to modify regular exercises like squats or to do specific resistance band exercises.

Some of the benefits of resistance bands include that you can use resistance bands to strengthen muscles at home or in the gym, you can add resistance in angles free weights don’t allow, they are a compact piece of fitness equipment, etc.

Whether you don’t enjoy resistance bands, you want a sturdier alternative, or you want an alternative for any other reason, these resistance band alternatives can help you train similar areas of your health.

Keep in mind that implementing these alternatives can offer benefits but like while using any exercise equipment, there is always some risk of injury. Make sure you use these equipment options in a safe way and if needed, get guidance from an expert.

1. Resistance band at-home alternatives

Resistance bands are a great piece of fitness equipment but you may have some alternative objects at home that can be used in similar ways.

The first example is the inner tube of a bicycle tire. This option is the most similar to regular resistance bands. The downside of using the inner tubes of bicycle tires, especially used ones, is that they can snap if you put them under too much load. You also don’t know how much resistance you are using so it is harder to keep track of progress.

Another example is old leggings or a similar piece of clothing. You preferably want to use old ones since these clothes will likely stretch out. The downside is that while things like leggings do stretch a little bit, you are likely often doing isometric exercises.

Lastly, there are things like a towel, rope,… basically rope-like objects that don’t stretch out. With these you are almost certainly doing isometric, more static, exercises. Isometric exercises are generally less effective than the isotonic exercises you can do with resistance bands.

2. One handed-free weights

One-handed free weights are basically the free weights category excluding the barbell, medicine ball, and EZ curl bar. This distinction is important when talking about resistance band alternatives. By being able to hold the weight in one hand, the number of exercise options comes closer to that of resistance bands.

Two-handed free weights can function as resistance band alternatives in many exercises too. But at the same time, you also lack the mobility for many other exercises.

Some examples of one-handed free weights are dumbbells, kettlebells, the right types of weight plates, certain exercise sandbags, wrist weights, etc. These types of equipment can benefit your workout plan just as much, often more, than resistance bands.

Another benefit of free weights is that they generally last an extremely long time. One dumbbell can potentially improve your workouts for many years and potentially even decades. On top of that, many free weights do not really lose their value.

This means that if you decide to stop using dumbbells or other free weights you can likely sell them for a very similar price as what you put into them.

The disadvantage is that free weights often require a slightly bigger investment compared to resistance bands. That being said, they are still relatively low in price compared to for example an exercise bike.

Check dumbbell prices

3. Ankle weights

Ankle weights are simply straps with some extra weight that are attached to your ankles.

A relatively unique benefit of resistance bands over other workout equipment is that you can loop them around your thighs, ankles, lower legs, etc. This allows you to make exercises like a hamstring curl weighted, something you can not do with dumbbells.

That being said, this benefit is not completely unique to resistance bands. This next alternative, ankle weights, offers the same benefit while also being relatively inexpensive, easy to store, and very portable.

On top of that, you can also use most of the best ankle weights as wrist weights.

The main downside of ankle weights as a resistance band alternative is that they are often not that heavy. So if you are more experienced with for example hamstring resistance training, wrist weights may not be challenging enough while resistance bands could be.

Check ankle weight prices

4. Cable machine

The cable machine is a type of gym machine (or home gym) where a steel frame holds weights and pulleys. Thanks to the cable going through these pulleys and attached to these weights you can resistance in angles similar to resistance bands.

A benefit of the cable machine is that you can add weight and higher amounts, more conveniently compared to resistance bands.

An obvious downside of the cable machine as a resistance band alternative, is that it is not really the most at-home friendly piece of fitness equipment. Both in the amount of room you need and the price tag.

That being said, if you already have a gym subscription and you go to the gym regularly, you can definitely give this gym machine a try.

Check cable machine prices

5. Dip bars

Dip bars are essentially two horizontal bars with enough room below them to do the dip exercise. This is a classic tricep exercise where raise and lower your body while leaning on the dip bars.

Tricep exercises are another area where resistance bands often stand out compared to other fitness equipment options. That being said, there are also other dip bar exercises for other body parts.

Another benefit of dip bars is that they can last for a very long time.

One downside as a resistance band alternative is that they require a slightly bigger investment compared to resistance bands. You also do not have the same flexibility when it comes to exercise options for different body parts.

Check dip bar prices

6. Pull-up bar

Pull-ups are a typical resistance training exercise. To do this exercise you need a pull-up bar which is basically a sturdy horizontal bar.

By now it is clear that resistance bands are an extremely versatile piece of fitness equipment. Another area where they stand out is training your back and bicep muscles at home.

If you want an alternative to resistance bands for these body parts, a pull-up bar can be a good choice. Even if you currently don’t have a pull-up bar or gym subscription, doorway pull-up bars are relatively inexpensive.

A benefit of pull-up bars is that, similar to resistance bands, there are relatively inexpensive options available.

Similar to dip bars, the downside of a pull-up bar is that it is just not as versatile as resistance bands. It is also a lot harder to adjust the “weights” you use (your body weight).

Check pull-up bar prices

7. Two-handed free weights

Two-handed free weights are basically the barbell, medicine ball, and EZ curl bar. If needed you can load the bars with extra weight plates.

Similar to resistance bands, you can use two-handed free weights to make a variety of resistance training exercises harder. For something like a weighted squat, a weighted barbell is even often more useful than resistance bands.

On top of that, free weights like these often last a very long time. They can benefit your workouts for years.

That being said, two-handed free weights are generally not as useful as resistance bands to work out body parts like your rear deltoids and hamstrings. A barbell, EZ curl bar, and weight plates are also definitely resistance band alternatives that require a bigger investment.

Check barbell prices

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Matt Claes founded Weight Loss Made Practical to help people get in shape and stay there after losing 37 pounds and learning the best of the best about weight loss, health, and longevity for over 4 years. Over these years he has become an expert in nutrition, exercise, and other physical health aspects.