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Free Weights Vs. Resistance Bands, Which One is Better?

Whether your goal is to get lean or build muscle, weight training should definitely be incorporated into your workout regimen. Weight training builds strength and it helps you get bigger when building muscle. In the case of getting lean, weight training also preserves the muscles you build and increases your metabolic rate. When you combine cardio with weight training, you can accelerate your weight loss, which makes stripping away fat a breeze. When it comes to weight training, there are two types of equipment you can use: Free weights and resistance bands. I’ve visited a few forums that had “Free Weights vs. Resistance Bands” battles going on to determine which is better. Are you wondering which one I decided was best? Well before I answer that, lets take a look at each equipment.

Resistance Bands

Resistance bands are elastic bands made of strong rubber, and are used for strength training as an alternative to free weights. These bands normally come in a wide variety of colors, and just like free weights, they are numerically valued, indicating the band’s level of resistance. Each band has a hook attached to each of its ends, and they come with plastic handles. Once you attach the hook to the handles, you perform the workouts by placing one or both feet on the band(s) or attaching it to an anchor, making sure you have equal resistance on both arms and enough leverage. A study conducted in Norway should that when substituting free weights with elastic bands, there was no difference or change in effect on muscle activity. Similarly, another study showed that there was no major differences between resistance bands and free weights in terms of muscle and strength growth. I started my strength training journey with P90X using the resistance bands. They were a great option for me, since I wasn’t too big on using free weights at the time. I really liked how the bands came in wide assortment of colors, and I really loved how they came in different levels of resistance, as some of the workouts required me to go lighter or heavier at times in order to execute proper form and get the most out of it. What I also loved was how I can travel with it no problem. When I started P90X, I went on a week long cruise about a few weeks into the program. Thankfully, I was able to take my laptop, the DVDs, and my resistance bands with me on the trip so I can continue the program without stopping. My cabin was tight, but fortunately I was able to do my workouts no problem. Bodylastic is a great place to purchase a set of resistance bands for yourself. They have Anti-Snap technology and come with a lifetime durability guarantee. I’ve been using their bands for a few years now, and so far I’m not disappointed. Also, click here to check out the different workouts you can do with resistance bands.

Free Weights

Free weights are the “go to” when it comes to strength training. Free weights are commonly used in the form of dumbbells and barbells. They are called free because of the free range of motion in which you can use the weight. Dumbbells and the plates used for barbells are numerically valued to indicate how light or how heavy the weights are. When lifting free weights, it’s very important to make sure of two things: 1) That your form is correct, and 2) That the weights you are lifting are not too heavy for you. Proper form is important in every exercise you do, however it’s even more important when it comes to free weights. Weights can cause muscle injury and soreness if your form is not correct. Lifting a weight that is too heavy for you can also cause improper form. Not only that, it can cause you to lose control of the weight and drop it on yourself or someone else who may be close by. I don’t know about you, but I certainly do not want to cause accident to myself or others and have that weighing on my conscience. As long as you remember these two points, you’re good to go. In my opinion, it’s easier to just go to a gym and lift weights instead of buying them for your home, however, if you have the means and that’s what you’re looking to do, go for it

So Which Is Better?

After all that’s been said, I believe both free weights and resistance bands are great for strength training. They both have their advantages. Free weights have free range of motion and are ready to be used as soon as you pick them up. Resistance bands are less taxing on the body, you can get them in a set at a very affordable price, you can get similar results with them as you would with the weights, and they are light and you can travel with them anywhere. Also, every person is different. Someone may get more out of the bands than the weights and vice versa. How about you? What’s your experience been like with the weights and the bands? Which one do you prefer? Drop a comment below and let’s talk about it.

William Newsome

4 Comments

  1. Hi William, a great breakdown on exactly what resistance bands and free weights are!

    I agree that resistance bands are less taxing on the body. From my experience and things I have read, resistance bands are great for building initial strength and for recovery or rehabilitation. Once someone has built to a good level with resistance bands, then they could move on to free weights.

    Free weights are also beneficial as the “freedom” of movement means you are also working other muscles groups, especially your core when keeping a good neutral back form.

    I use both. I have free weights at home and I bring resistance bands when I go travelling (for weight reasons of course). I find that I can get a similar ‘burn’ in my muscles using either type.

    Thanks!

    • Thanks Sven, to be honest I was a bit nervous using free weights at first so started with the bands. And just like you said, once I’ve built enough strength, I moved to the weights. If you have a barbell and a squat rack, I would love to workout at your house instead of going to the gym 😀

  2. I still remember torturing myself with a resistance band as a kid – wanted to get big young lol.

    Great piece of info and to be perfectly honest – I have a favorite amongst these two. As I’m an avid gym goer, I’ve found that free weights are the real deal, hands down.

    The hormonal response and the overall effectiveness is what triggered me to utilize them more often.

    Do you recommend doing pull ups as a sort of a free weight exercise, and would you recommend a particular chin up bar?

    • Same here man. Initially I didn’t want to use the free weights so I started with the bands. But since I started going to the gym a few months ago, I realize how effective free weights are and how I don’t have to keep making sure I have equal resistance with both arms on the bands. Pull ups are a great exercise for your arms and back

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