When shopping for resistance bands you’ve probably noticed two types; with handles and a loop. What’s best for you? Here’s what you need to know.
Resistance bands with handles or loop bands, what’s better? Loop bands are a better choice for most people since they can be used for a wider range of activities, are easier to travel with and can have higher maximum resistance. Tube bands can replicate dumbbell exercises better in some situations.
If you want to know what the exact differences are, keep reading.
What’s the difference between loop bands and bands with handles?
What are the differences between resistance bands with handles and loop bands? Let’s take a look at what they actually look like. That will already give you a few hints on what the differences are.
Loop band: A continuous rubber band. The band is rectangular and has edges. Click here to find them.
Tube bands with handles: A tubular resistance band that’s hollow inside. At both ends there is a handle or an eyelet where you can attach different attachments. Click here to find an example (amazon)
They are both resistance bands but clearly different. What are the benefits of both types and what is best for you? We have to look at different parts of the
- Exercise differences
Both types are resistance bands and they’re used for very similar purposes. Instead of listing all the similarities, it’s more useful to look at the differences;
What are the practical differences between tube bands and loop bands if we look at exercising? Most exercises can be done with both types of band.
Loop bands are generally easier to integrate into weight training. Like adding them onto a barbell exercise or pull up. Those exercises where you want the wider resistance range a loop bands provides. More on that later.
Other benefits of loop bands are that they are better suited for mobility work, flexibility, yoga and Pilatus.
Loop bands are….. a loop. That means the part between your hands can sometimes get in the way a little. Tube bands stop at the handle which means they are open otherwise.
In practice that means that tube bands replicate dumbbell a bit closer. That makes tube bands better for pressing and pushing exercises but for most other exercises, loop bands can offer you more.
There is actually a difference in comfort when using bands. However, it’s not that one type is more comfortable than the other. It depends on the specific situation which one provides the better comfort.
Loop bands are wider while tube bands are quite narrow. That means if you hold the band under your feet, the loop bands distribute the weight over a bigger area so there is less pressure in one spot. This also goes for rotational exercises or other movements where the band touches your body.
For your hands it’s the other way around. Because the tube bands will have handles, it’s a bit nicer on your hands.
We have to look at two factors of resistance;
The maximum resistance is obviously the highest resistance a band can provide.
Loop bands maximum resistances range from 15 to 200 lbs.
Tube bands come with max resistances of 10 to 50 lbs. tubes can be stacked quite easily however. Just attach a 40 and 50 lbs. band to the same handles and you’ve got 90 lbs. Most sets can be stacked up to 150lbs. although a single loop band is more convenient than stacking 5 tubes.
The range is where the resistance starts and ends. Of course it ends at the maximum resistance but not every band has as much variability
In general, loop bands have a wider range of resistance while the tube bands have a much narrower one. For example, a loop band can have a range of 35-65 lbs. while a tube band has a range of 55-65 lbs.
Both ranges have their pros and cons. Loop bands are a bit more flexible in training and have a higher maximum resistance for extra muscle and strength gains.
Tube bands provide more consistent resistance although lower in total.
Which type is easier to store? Storage might not sound very important since resistance bands are small anyways. If you want to travel or put them in a very tight space, it becomes more important.
Both types should be stored somewhere outside of direct sunlight since UV light will degrade resistance bands much faster than they should.
Size wise, both types don’t take up much space but loop bands are actually a bit smaller. That’s because you don’t need any attachments for the loop bands. While tube bands by themselves are a bit smaller, the attachments you need to use them means the whole set takes up more space.
There is more than one brand that sells resistance bands of either type. They sell their products at different prices for all kinds of reasons. The prices are close enough that there is a big overlap in prices.
One thing to keep in mind is that tubular bands with handles are usually sold as a complete combo with tubes, attachments, anchors, etc. That makes price comparison difficult. In a combo you usually get a better deal than if you would buy separate items.
That said, if you buy five loop bands, you’ll pay about the same as a set of five tube bands with handles of similar quality.
Of course within both types there are a range of qualities, materials and prices. For both types goes that higher quality bands will last longer. While construction and material use are different between the types, the longevity is similar. For average quality bands, tubes stay good for a bit longer.
That brings us to the safety. Even good quality bands have their limits and will degrade over time. The higher the quality, the further away the limits will be. Both types are safe to exercise with. Resistance bands are easy on the joints and it’s very unlikely you’ll injure yourself while using them.
One thing that can hurt you is when a band breaks. Especially under load, a breaking band can do a lot of damage it if hits the wrong body part or even something like a window.
High quality loop bands are layered. That means they’re built up from more than one sheet of latex. this means there is a very low change the band will snap in a single instance.
Tube bands are made of a single thicker layer. That means if it fails, it completely fails.
On the other hand, some tube bands have ‘snap guards’ inside the tube that prevent you from overstretching them.
Tube bands have eyelets attached to them. From personal experience those eyelets can let go. It might not be common but it can happen. In my case the eyelet that was anchored to the wall let go and the band hit me in the back of the head. Luckily I was facing away at the time. It wasn’t a cheap brand either but I’m not going to name names.
For that reason alone, my personal preference lies with loop bands. Loop bands won’t snap in a single moment but unravel slower.
Pros and cons of loop and tube bands summary
Here are the pros and cons of both the tube bands and loop bands.
Tube bands with handles
First let’s take a look at the pros and cons of tube bands with handles.
- Tube bands tend to last longer than loop bands. Some tube bands also have a so call ‘snap guard’. This is a kind of wire inside the tube that prevents from overstretching it and snapping it.
- Tube bands are available in lower resistances than loop bands.
- Tube bands can be stacked easily by attaching them to the same attachment.
- This type of bands often comes in sets. These sets have different resistance tubes, different attachments, different
- Tube bands can be a bit uncomfortable when pressed to the body since the surface is a lot smaller. That means you have more pressure on a smaller spot.
- If tube bands break (which is uncommon but can happen in rare instances), it can possibly cause more damage than loop bands. What sometimes happens is that the little eyelet let’s go. So when you attach the band to an anchor and it snaps, a part of the tube can catapult into your body. Again, this is quite rare.
- Tube bands are harder to integrate into weight training.
Loop bands are the most common type of resistance bands. They’re basically a big rubber band. Here are the pros and cons;
- Higher maximum resistance
- Higher resistance range.
- More exercise options
- Easy to integrate into weight training.
- Smaller to store
- No easy grip handles
- Part of the loop between your hands can get in the way.
Both types of resistance bands are pretty cheap so for not too much money you could have both anyways.
Loop bands are a bit more flexible in regards to what you can do with them.
Tube bands are a bit easier to grip because of the handles but it’s a pretty small difference. The biggest benefit is that they’re ‘open’. With a loop band there will often be a part of the band that gets in the way. If you have a wall anchor, tube bands can also replicate dumbbell exercises a bit better.
In the end, you get more options with the loop bands while the downsides are limited. If you have to pick one, I’d go for loop bands. They are a bit more comfortable to use, easier to use anywhere and are easier to put in a bag while traveling.
Check out RubberBanditz.com. They don’t only sell high quality loop bands and combos, they also provide tons of information about which band is right for your training level, style and strength.
Are resistance bands good to build muscle? Building muscle is about giving your muscles enough resistance and repetitions to want to grow. It’s absolutely possible to do this with resistance bands. Especially for beginners it’s an effective and safe way to start working out. Once you’ve built a base, including free weights is going to help you more.