This discomfort, she adds, can cause people to steer clear of exercises that could benefit them. “I’m for sure one of those people,” Summers says. “I don”t enjoy putting that band above my knees and having it digging into my thighs.”
What to look for in mini-bands for larger bodies
The good news is that more brands are making mini-bands that work well for exercisers in bigger bodies. These bands tend to be constructed a bit differently than the flimsy, lightweight bands you may be familiar with: Many include features like hooks that allow you to more easily put on and remove bands. Others are made of cloth fabric that is more durable and feels better against the skin than latex.
It’s also worth noting that a band doesn’t even have to be a mini-band to serve the purpose of one. “If someone is in a much larger body, I just always use straight bands instead of looped,” Jenna Doak, cofounder and head trainer at Body Positive Fitness, tells SELF. Straight bands—which, as we mentioned, are one long piece of material, instead a loop—are more versatile, Doak explains. “In general, the straight bands can be stretched a lot further and therefore used in many different ways,” she says. They can also be tied in a loop to work just like a mini-band.
Playing with placement also matters for comfort too. “You don’t have to have the band above your thighs for it to be effective,” Thompson says. For instance, in a squat, instead of placing a mini-band around your mid-thighs, you could place it directly under your knees or at mid-ankle level. This positioning will likely be more comfortable, though you may need to use a stronger band to create the same level of resistance, Thompson adds.
How to use mini-bands in your workouts
Use mini-bands to increase the challenge in your lower-body workouts by adding resistance or load to common moves: They’re a great way to incorporate more strength work into your routine without adding actual weight, says Thompson.
With a band you can amp up the load simply by stretching it. The more you stretch the band, the heavier the resistance becomes and vice versa, as SELF previously reported. This means resistance bands provide “a lot more variability in your load” compared to free weights like kettlebells, dumbbells, or sandbags, where each weight is fixed and you’d have to pick up a different weight in order to adjust the load, certified personal trainer Alicia Jamison, MA, coach at Bodyspace Fitness in New York City, previously told SELF. In general, the thicker the resistance band, the heavier the resistance, Doak says, though that may vary brand by brand.
Like we mentioned above, mini-bands are also great for helping you dig into the mind-muscle connection, ensuring that you’re engaging the muscles you want to be working. “Bands require a lot more control and stability in the muscles and joints than dumbbells do,” Doak says. “Using bands will require folks to slow down a bit and focus more on the controlled movement, which is easy to let slide when you’re using dumbbells.”
Because mini-bands help engage small muscles in your glutes, especially when you move your legs to the sides (laterally), they’re handy for warming up. Leavell does exercises like lateral side steps with a looped band to warm up her lower body before a lift.
In sum, there are a lot of awesome perks to using mini-bands. We asked six personal trainers to recommend the best resistance and mini-bands for folks with larger bodies. “It’s a game changer when we have equipment that is made for our bodies and is accessible to us,” certified personal trainer Wendy Welsher, owner of My Joyous Adaptive Momentous Movement and cofounder of Joyful Inclusive Movement, tells SELF.
Below, six awesome trainer-recommended resistance bands for exercisers in bigger bodies.
Committed HP The Better Band
These mini-bands—recommended by both Taylor and Summers—are made of fabric instead of latex, which helps minimize rolling once placed on your body, Taylor explains. The fabric also doesn’t dig into the skin, Summers adds, which makes it a “much more comfortable piece of equipment.”
Additionally, the bands have a metal hook that “makes it a little bit easier for plus-people to get them on,” Taylor says, since you can easily clasp the band around your body instead of having to shimmy it on and off. Also cool? The hook has multiple settings, which allows users to change the length of the band—ideal for scaling the intensity of a movement up or down, or for adjusting the band to fit different bodies. Lastly, the band comes in four different fit categories, including a recently launched “plus” category where bands are several centimeters longer. That extra length “just makes it a little bit more accessible for plus-size people,” Taylor explains.
Be Momentous 4″ Plus Adjustable Resistance Band
Billed as a band “designed for any and every body that has never been able to find a resistance band they can actually use,” these adjustable fabric mini bands are specifically designed for exercisers in bigger bodies. The sizing is technically 2X to 3X, but Welsher—who swears by this product—says they run a little larger, even fitting a client of hers who wears a size 5X. Non-slip grip prevents the band from sliding down, Velcro makes for easy adjustments, and the sizable width (four inches) means it won’t dig into your skin, Welsher says. Additionally, the band comes in a light resistance, making it ideal for beginner exercisers, she adds.
Evoke Mini Elastic Resistance Loop Band Multi Pack
Another recommendation from Taylor, these mini-bands are crafted from a knitted elastic material. Though the product does contain “flexible rubber latex,” according to the product’s website, it is a fabric-based band, which, like we mentioned, is more comfortable than straight-up latex. Fabric “doesn’t slide, doesn’t roll,” Taylor says. “It just fits a little bit better.” In addition, these bands have a non-slip grip component, which further prevents them from sliding down as you move.
Shelter Fitness Premium Fabric Glute Bands (3-Pack)
These mini-bands are crafted with cloth material, so they “don’t roll as much” as rubber-based bands, Thompson says. That also makes them more comfortable against skin. They come in three-packs of varying resistance levels: light (20 to 35 pounds of resistance), medium (30 to 45 pounds of resistance), and heavy (40 to 55 pounds of resistance).
CFX Resistance Bands Set
Leavell is a huge fan of Big Bottom Behavior (BBB) Size Inclusive Booty Bands—one of the first bands she found to work for a variety of bodies—because they’re crafted with a soft knit material that “leads to less slipping” and are made with a sizable width that ensures the band stays put. Though the BBB bands are currently sold out, the CFX Resistance Bands provide similar features, including a stretchy, non-slip fabric and an inside liner that boosts the band’s durability and elasticity.
FitCord Original Covered Resistance Bands
Thompson recommends these long, non-looped resistance bands, which are wrapped in cloth and have handles. The cloth bolsters the band’s durability, and “having some handles to hold onto makes it a little bit more approachable,” Thompson says, explaining there’s less fear of the band snapping. The bands in this set range in resistance from 12 to 25 pounds.