During the middle stages of quarantine, the pairing of resistance bands with door anchors became one of the few acceptable answers to the question, “How can I reasonably approximate most of my gym’s pulley-system exercises in my cramped studio apartment?”
The key word here is “reasonably,” because training with resistance bands will never feel exactly like training with real weight; the tension on the muscles is much lighter in the beginning of the band-stretching movement, and escalates rapidly the further the band is stretched as your muscles shift into a state of contraction.
Moreover, it would be virtually impossible for the spacing of a standard doorway to enable you to duplicate every one of the angles at which a muscle can be trained with an industrial-grade dual pulley system. However, desperate times call for desperate measures, and anchored resistance bands have proven themselves to be serviceable replacements in a time of need, and have enabled many thousands of people to rethink just how much could be accomplished from home.
Basically, as long as you’re pushing or pulling your way into resistance — and training to failure within the requisite rep count — there’s no reason to think that your body wouldn’t respond to rubber the same way it responds to iron. All it realizes is that it couldn’t pull that rubber another inch even if your life depended on it.
The Three Most Important Traits of Resistance Bands with Door Anchors
1) Durability. I’m simply going to tell it like it is: I’ve owned my share of elastic resistance training bands in my life, and some of them failed to make it through a full week in one piece. Some of them were ripped apart right at the handle attachment, and others were torn asunder beneath their neoprene sleeves. Whatever the case may be, if your bands snap like Kanye West as a result of you tugging at them, they’re completely worthless.
2) Adaptability. When I first encountered elastic bands, the only use I found for them involved doing very strict standing bicep curls while grasping their permanently affixed handles. Nowadays, there are a wide variety of attachments that can be temporarily fastened to the elastic bands, permitting you to shuffle through an endless variety of workout variations.
3) Stackability. The tension of each elastic band is said to equate with a certain poundage of weight, the same way Bowflex power rods were manufactured. Much like those power rods, elastic bands are now able to be grouped together in some cases, rapidly raising the total tension of the bands and the “weight” at your disposal. However, just because a set of bands claims to be stackable doesn’t mean that the process goes down smoothly in the field.
Okay, now that you’re amped for some of the most wholesome, rewarding fun you can have by yourself with an ample supply of latex, let’s take a look at the five best resistance bands with door anchors…
Best Standard Elastic Door Anchor Set: Coolrunner Resistance Bands Set
Why It’s Worthy of Your Doorframe: The Coolrunner Resistance Bands Set has all of the fundamental pieces you think of when you think of these door-anchored elastic band gym models — handles, ankle straps and 150 pounds of total resistance. On top of that, the bands are all encased in neoprene sleeves, which protects them from external wear and shields you from being irritated by the rubber scraping up against you whether the bands are attached to the door, or whether you pull them away from the door to execute other movements.
Also, it has two of every basic attachment, making the replacements of handles and ankle straps a simple matter to address if one gets completely worn out or lost.
Why It’s a Stretch: When compared with some heavier-duty models, 150 pounds of total resistance is really closer to the entry level for several movements. You may find yourself quickly wishing to upgrade to another model when that happens. You may also find this to be light on the attachment options, and if you do, a little more cash will provide just what the doctor ordered.
The Last Word: There’s no sense in ordering a larger, more expensive door-anchored training set than you actually need. If all you require is something to provide you with adequate training resistance at home during the days when you lack gym access, the Coolrunner Resistance Bands Set will leave you feeling like you haven’t missed out on anything significant.
Best Multi-Point Door Anchor: Brebebe Door Anchor Strap
Why It’s Worthy of Your Doorframe: The Brebebe Door Anchor Strap attachment eliminates two of the foremost gripes of elastic-band door-anchor training rigs, specifically that you have to swap around the sole anchor position between the top and bottom of the door. The dual anchor attachments enable you to fasten the ends of an extended strap to the top and bottom of the door, while also providing you with three additional easy points of attachment. It also offers you two hand grips and two ankle straps for easy transitions between upper-body and lower-body training.
Why It’s a Stretch: Color me skeptical, but having worked with these anchoring mechanisms before, I have a hard time believing the central connection points of the extended strap will be nearly as stable as the points at the top and bottom of the door, which is where the firm anchoring actually occurs. That aside, the 150-pound maximum resistance provided by the bands here is sufficient for many people, but again, it pales in comparison to some of the other elastic training systems available.
The Last Word: If the Brebebe Door Anchor Strap works as advertised, it’s likely to put your mind at ease with respect to the angles at which the resistance is applied. You would no longer need to contort your body to ensure that your upper pectorals or lats are being hit at the optimal angles during certain presses and rows.
Best Deluxe Band Gym with Bar: NBDIB 13-Piece Resistance Band Set
Why It’s Worthy of Your Doorframe: These natural latex bands are made of stronger material than most other bands, and with that comes a greater degree of resistance, maxing out at 325 pounds. The NBDIB 13-Piece Resistance Band Set also arrives bearing two handles and two ankle straps ready for use, but that’s nothing compared with what the straight-bar attachment can do for you. Having a genuine bar to train with unlocks a wide range of exercises that would have been previously unperformable, like very heavy bent-over rows.
Why It’s a Stretch: The straight-bar attachment may be handy, but at only 25 inches in length, it’s somewhat limited. I’m also always suspicious of the true stackability of the very wide elastic bands, which don’t stack as neatly within their clasps as the tubular ones.
The Last Word: I totally get it — some people just don’t feel like they’re engaged in an authentic workout unless they have a giant bar in their hands to pull or press against. Purchasing an elastic training set that includes a bar may leave you less likely to doubt the effectiveness of your workout, even though you probably never should have doubted it in the first place.
Best Uniform Weight with Bar: Clothink Portable Pilates Bar with Kit
Why It’s Worthy of Your Doorframe: Sometimes you don’t want to have to remember what each color of the rubber bands means, and the Clothink Portable Pilates Bar with Kit makes it easy for you — every band provides 30 pounds of resistance, and they collectively add up to 240 pounds. The segmented bar can be extended up to 38 inches, providing you with wide hand placement positions for exercises like military presses, straight-bar-style rows and lat pulldowns. Additionally, it provides you with spacer straps to help you with your pre-tension body positioning, along with dual hand-ankle grips.
Why It’s a Stretch: Sometimes less is more. If every elastic band offers 30 pounds of resistance, it’s impossible to perform any exercise with less than 30 pounds of resistance, and it’s also impossible to increase the tension by smaller increments than 30 pounds at a time. That’s a massive leap in resistance for some exercises. Also, sometimes you can impose limits on two different things by mixing them both together, and the ankle strap portion of the dual hybrid handle-ankle strap isn’t as functional as a dedicated ankle strap would be.
The Last Word: There is something to be said for having space, function and uniformity in your workout — and with your training equipment. The Clothink Portable Pilates Bar with Kit is for those who want to comfortably get into the 200-pound resistance ranges with elastic tubes that will stack neatly, and with a rig that will provide them with plenty of space to get comfortable in without the distraction of bands scraping against their body.
Best Heavy Duty Resistance Package with Bar: TESLANG Resistance Band Bar Set
Why It’s Worthy of Your Doorframe: Like Professor Hubert Farnsworth once said, humans have mastered the practice of taking absolutely anything and making it bigger. This monster set features thinker hand grips, thicker resistance bands — some of which can individually provide up to 125 pounds of resistance — and a 38-inch chrome bar. If you combine all of the resistance bands together, you can access up to 500 total pounds of resistance during your training sessions.
Why It’s a Stretch: If you need access to 500 total pounds of resistance at a time in order to effectively train, you’re probably better off training with real weight, or inside of a full-blown gym. Also, these elastic bands are so wide and thick that they’re unlikely to situate themselves neatly without leaving you feeling like their orientation is compromising the fluidity of your lifting. Also, you’ll end up paying double what you’d spend for similar systems simply to have access to a collective feeling of resistance that you’ll probably never fully utilize.
The Last Word: The TESLANG Resistance Band Bar Set is an absolute beast, and it will forever disabuse you of the notion that you’re without sufficient resistance in a home environment. It may be on the costlier end of the anchored elastic band spectrum at $146, but if the objective is to have this be your one-stop shop for all of your resistance training needs, 150 bucks is nothing in the grand scheme of things.