Using resistance bands is one of the best ways to add intensity to your Pilates workout. Its use is so widespread it’s become essential equipment along with the trusty exercise mat.
There are main two types of bands for you to consider: flat bands and tube bands. Since either excels in different applications and has its own pros and cons, you may want to build a collection including both types.
- Suitable for light resistance only
- Comfortable to work with
Typically, you’ll see the flat style bands (looks like a big ribbon) packaged with Pilates workout programs. These are usually made of latex, and while suitable for light use, it doesn’t take much to snap one after weeks of normal use.
The advantage of this type comes down to comfort. You barely notice it wrapped around your body or positioned at the sole of your foot. The pressure is distributed along the ample width of the band, and evenly.
- Available in a huge array of resistance ratings for varying degrees of fitness and a huge variety of exercises
- Can be uncomfortable to work with in certain Pilates positions
Tube style bands are more rugged and come in varieties offering much more resistance. For strength training, these are the ones you reach for.
The only drawback is the concentrated pressure put on your feet and body, which can be uncomfortable when doing certain exercises. This becomes a greater concern when using a heavier resistance band.
Choices in Materials
Most tube bands are made of latex. Sometimes they are rubber, which is essentially just latex that has been further processed.
Flat resistance bands are made from either of two materials.
- Latex: This is the most common material by far. Widely available sets include five bands which offer more options than fabric sets.
- Fabric: Stretchy fabric bands tend to be shorter in length than their latex counterparts. Thus, they have a more substantial feel that offers more resistance.
Why Flat Bands are Popular for Pilates
You’ve probably noticed most Pilates practitioners reach for flat resistance bands rather than tube bands.
Flat bands are well equipped at handling the sheer variety of exercises Pilates offers.
People that do general exercises mainly interact with the resistance bands with their hands and feet. Pilates involves wrapping the bands around additional parts of your body such as around the ankles and thighs. Flat bands simply feel right when wrapped around tender spots.
The Best Bands
For flat or ribbon style bands you can’t go wrong with the set either by Fit Simplify or TechStone. Both include five bands with colored-coded resistance levels. The quality is nearly identical.
The only notable difference is the Fit Simplify includes a bag while TechStone throws in a bag plus a handle. As the handle is more useful this gives the TechStone offering a slight edge.
For tube style bands I recommend getting a set either by Bodylastics or Black Mountain Products. You can read my thoughts on these in my main review. If I had to choose one, I’d go with Bodylastics because they offer a huge variety of bands in their catalog, leaving room for you to expand and add new bands over time if you so desire.
Photo: U.S Army