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After re-looking at the available resistance bands for 2020, we stand behind our original findings.
The X-Over Bands by FitCord are the best resistance bands we've found in our research. When we started our search for resistance tube bands, we had no idea the number of companies currently making tube bands, however, after consulting an expert in the space, using many of the various bands available, and polling users on their favorite bands, there seems to be no one producing better bands than FitCord.
Although we highly suggest purchasing a set of bands with a nylon sleeve, if you simply cannot afford our top pick, then our budget-friendly option is the Ultimate Resistance band Set from Black Mountain Products.
The Resistance Band Set from BMP is undoubtedly a budget option. It doesn't have the good looks or consistent resistance that you'll get from our top pick by FitCord, but they will get the job done. One thing we must suggest, however, is constant inspection of the bands to prevent the loss of an eye. This may sound silly, but resistance tube bands have been known to break and take out an eye, which why having a nylon sleeve is so important.
We ended up using the BMP Resistance Band Set over the course of three years and had no problems, although there have been some who have. Be advised.
In order to learn more about what goes into the rubber and parts used in resistance bands, we consulted with an expert with over two decades of experience in the industry and owner of Worldwide Fitness Products.
The biggest difference between bands is the tubing that's used. There are three main types of tubing used:
A large part of the resistance bands that are sold are made of Thermoplastic Rubber. The reason is quite simple and one that you could easily guess--they're cheaper to make; and because they're cheaper to make, they're also easier to make a profit on.
Most people who are looking for tube resistance bands do recreational exercise and don't want to spend extra for a more heavy-duty and safer band. You can tell a Thermoplastic Rubber (TPR) band from others by how much they are able to stretch. A TPR band will break at about 400-500% of its original length. This means that if you stretch it over 4-5x its original length, it will snap and come flying back in your face.
This, however, is based on a new band. Not one that's been used and left out to be eaten by UV Rays (which is another sign of a TPR Band, high degradation from light.)
Extruded Rubber is the next best tube used in resistance bands and features a single layer that extends up to 600% of the original length. These can take much more wear than the man-made TPR bands, although they are still inferior to Dipped Latex. Many of the tube resistance bands on the market today that feature nylon sheaths use an extruded rubber tube--once again because it is cheaper than Dipped Latex.
The final and best resistance tube is made of Dipped Latex, which also happens to be the most natural. Dipped Latex bands can stretch up to 900% of their original length and will provide years of quality service at a consistent resistance.
As stated, there are a lot of companies producing tube resistance bands, which is one reason a detailed look at the industry like this is so vital.
We decided to do research and find as many companies as possible who were selling resistance tube bands and narrow them down to the ones most worth purchasing. What we found rather quickly was that although there are over 50 companies marketing and selling tube resistance bands, there are only a handful of manufacturers and only one in the USA.
Meaning, if you're going to buy tube resistance bands, they're most likely going to be manufactured overseas (not always a bad thing) and they're going to come from similar places.
After researching and using many of the most expensive bands, we've found that the best bands combine dipped latex rubber, with a nylon outer sheath, a nice carabiner, and a comfortable handle. There was only one company doing all of this at a price that wasn't exorbitant (and also happened to be made in the USA,) and therefore holds our top spot.
For our budget pick, our specifications were much more relaxed. We wanted to find a set of bands that had decent durability, we had extensive experience with, were easily purchased, and at a low price relative to competitors.
We tested the bands by using them as DIY Crossover Symmetry (build your own here) attaching to a belt for explosive jumps, using them for acceleration training, connecting them to a squat rack and performing explosive punches as well as many other movements. These are the results.
The X-Over Bands from FitCord are the best tube resistance band currently being made, and they just so happen to not be the most expensive (that's what we call a win-win.)
The FitCord X-Over Bands is a company owned by Worldwide Fitness Products which is one of the only tube resistance band manufacturers in the USA. Not only are they made in the USA (Alabama) to be exact, but they've also been doing so for longer than just about anyone else.
The FitCord X-Over Bands have a name similar to one you've probably heard of before, and that's for a very good reason. FitCord was at one time a supplier for Crossover Symmetry Bands. Crossover Cords are now being made overseas, but you can still get the bands that were originally used from Fitcord.
I'm a big fan of 'Made in the USA' products, but that does not equate to them being superior to others. That said, I can't think of a way that the FitCord X-Over Bands could be further improved.
The main feature of the FitCord X-Over Bands is the tube that is used is the highest quality available. We went through the various types of tubing that is used above, and FitCord uses the highest quality, most durable band that's available -- dipped latex.
FitCord not only says they're durable, but they also do independent tests to prove their durability. FitCord's have proven to last over 150,000 repetitions, which vastly outperform companies using inferior products. This means not only will the cords resist stretching over time, but they'll also not break and therefore have a much longer usable life than their inferior counterparts.
FitCord makes bands ranging from three pounds of resistance up to fifty-five pounds. If you wanted more resistance, you could grab two handles, although its less than ideal.
The X-Over Bands are a design that should work for most people's workouts, especially those in overhead sports like baseball who greatly benefit from Crossover Symmetry. CrossFit athletes should also be using bands for restorative purposes and strengthening their scapula. Speaking of Crossover Symmetry, here's their basic program:
One area that must be discussed in relation to band usage is that eventually, bands will break. It doesn't matter how good your bands are, they will eventually snap, and hopefully, it's not during use.
Most budget bands, including our budget pick, will not have a safety sleeve covering the bands. The safety sleeve protects the user in case of breakage, which although doesn't happen too often, it is possible. In fact, it's such a fear that companies producing bands without safety sleeves include a disclaimer and recommendation to wear glasses during their use. The problem, however, is nobody is going to wear glasses while working out.
Not only will FitCord's safety sleeve prevent injury, but it also prevents the dipped latex from being damaged by UV Rays. UV degradation is known to weaken latex and other rubbers which will cause an increased chance of injury as well as weaken the band and create inconsistent resistance.
In fact, if you head into any large sporting good store, you can see UV degradation on bands occurring in plain sight. Lifeline Bands are popular among sporting goods stores and are exposed to a lot of UV Light. As they degrade, they will change colors and begin to peel; something I've seen multiple times in stores. Not only is this going to provide worse resistance, but it's also going to be unsafe, and the bands haven't even been purchased yet.
The last thing that a safety sleeve does is it allows those allergic to latex the ability to use the bands without any adverse reactions.
Underneath the nylon sleeve at one end is a carabiner that is attached using a braided strap, a plastic plug, a metal collar (that was impossible for me to remove,) and multiple levels of stitching keeping it all together.
When you look at the bands, you're probably like me in thinking that there can't be much to them. However, once I began cutting them apart, it became quite apparent that a lot of thought and effort goes into making sure the bands last.
One of the reasons there's likely so much going into the bands is because FitCord offers a lifetime warranty on the bands. If they bands break for any reason, you simply exchange the broken band for a brand new one; that's called faith in your product.
In order to make them easy to use on my power rack, I bought a pair of hitch pins from Harbor Freight and am able to use them at all angles, easily.
The resistance bands from FitCord are the best available, and they're also not the most expensive. If you're in the market for bands, these are the ones we suggest.
If for some reason you don't see the need in purchasing our top pick which features a safety sleeve, then our suggestion would be the resistance band set from Black Mountain Products.
In 2013, I decided to create a DIY tutorial on building a DIY Crossover Symmetry Set. It has since been a very popular article, and the bands I used for that as well as up to this point have been the Resistance Bands from Black Mountain Products.
The BMP bands are not nearly the quality of our top pick. Without question, we highly recommend using a safety sleeve. However, we have never had a band break on the BMP set despite constant usage. That said, after having used higher quality bands with a safety sleeve, we likely would not go back to using a band without a sleeve. There's simply too much risk for not much cost savings.
The BMP Resistance Band Set ranges from three pounds to fifty pounds and due to there being detachable handles, you can easily attach multiple bands for increased resistance.
The design is much simpler than our top pick, and therefore is again more likely to break. At the top is a braided strap with a metal ring in the middle that holds the band in. If stretched too far, the band can become detached and can lead to some adverse effects on your health (like loss of eyesight.)
Black Mountain Products are likely made of Thermoplastic Rubber as they can only stretch up to three times their length before potentially snapping. You also have to factor in that you need to purchase two sets to do a Crossover Symmetry type workout and therefore will be spending upwards of $100.
In the end, the Resistance Band Set from Black Mountain Products is a good option for those on a budget and don't feel the need for a safety sleeve (although we highly recommend it.)
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