Resistance bands vs free weights- 22 proven FACTS
When it comes to resistance bands vs free weights it’s important for you to know the benefits and drawbacks of each.
It can really can help you in so many ways. Choosing either or both can change the way you work out in a very positive way.
If you want to lose weight or build muscle or may be both, getting the right exercising equipment will definitely help you get not only faster results but better results as well.
What are you trying to accomplish?
That depends on what you are really trying to accomplish using either one of them.
You will be surprised to know that there is so many people don’t really know what is the main purpose of using either resistance bands or weights or maybe both.
As we all know that Resistance bands and free weights are the most commonly used equipment for working out at home or/and in the gym or anywhere else.
Resistance bands and free weights are easy and convenient to use for almost any type of exercise you can think of like:
- weight loss
- resistant training
- cardio training
- muscle strength
- muscle growth
- core training
What I’m trying to say is that knowing exactly what are you trying to get out of your workouts and what muscles you are targeting makes it so much easier to figure out if free weight or resistance bands or both is the right approach.
See the thing that I strongly disagree with is that most people are reluctant to think outside the box.
Just because you have been using bands for a long time and you are very comfortable with staying that way doesn’t make it right or wrong.
What makes it right or wrong is that fact that if you are using bands for the right exercises or not, that’s what we really need to focus on.
Hopefully, by the end of this article, you will have a clear idea which one is the best option for your workout.
There are many advantages and disadvantages of using either resistance bands or free weights or maybe both.
Let’s look at the resistance bands vs free weights and compare their PROS and CONS.
Quick overview of best resistance bands:
Benefits of Resistance bands
1-Resistance bands are inexpensive
Resistance bands are a fraction of the price of free weights. You can get a package of 6 resistance bands for $50. As we all know that free weights are sold around $1 per pound.
With weights, you have to keep using more weights as you progress in your workouts and that means you are going to buy more weights.
2-Resistance bands can be used anywhere and great for traveling
There’s nothing more convenient and easy to work out with than resistance bands. You can literally use them anywhere like:
- the gym
- the park
There is no exercise equipment anywhere like bands where they can be used for so many variety of resistance exercises and they are so light and weigh almost nothing.
3-They don’t take up any space
Another thing that makes resistance bands irresistible is that they can be squeezed into a purse or drawer and any tiny space you can think of.
4-Resistance bands are the king of versatility
Probably, the number one reason why resistance bands are very popular for professionals and beginners alike is that resistance bands can work for any type of exercise like:
- warm up exercises
- muscle resistance exercises
- plyometrics exercises
- cardio exercises
Resistance bands versatility also means creativity. We can be very creative of how we can use bands and come up with our own favourite exercises that meet an individual needs.
5-Resistance bands = Core stability and mobility
In simple terms resistance bands mean core stability and mobility. Almost every exercise that you will do and the way you position yourself holding the bands, it automatically engages the core muscles and forces them to flex.
You are working and strengthening your core muscles at all times when using resistance bands.
6-Joints love resistance bands
Unlike free weights, resistance bands are not gravity dependent. When you are using free weights there is constant horizontal movement with every exercise and that puts too much pressure on joints.
When using resistance bands there is less pressure on joints. There is horizontal and rotational resistance with band exercises and that means far less joint compression.
7-More joint and muscle engagement
Have you ever tried to walk, run, crawl or jump while using resistance bands?
Resistance bands are a great tool for cardio and strength training at the same time. You are not only going to improve your cardio and strength, buy also your balance, agility, and coordination.
8-If you are injured, resistance band training is the way to go
Resistance bands are great for sports injury rehabilitation.
As mentioned before that bands don’t put too much pressure on muscles and joints and incorporates multiple muscles in every exercise. That makes them very effective to gradually strengthen the injured muscle while not straining them or pulling them.
Top rated resistance bands that you must have
BodyBoss is the most compact and effective portable home gym on the market that only uses resistance bands to mimic the most popular gym machines that most of us like to use. Its unique design has changed the way we look at resistance bands and muscle building and It has revolutionized the way people look and think of resistance bands training.
It stimulates your upper and lower body muscles by using resistance bands, platform and barbell that are designed to target different muscle groups like your:
1-Abs and core.
2- Quad and calves.
3- Chest, shoulders, arms, lats and traps
5- and many more.
In short, if you are looking for a proven way to build muscle and lose weight, then the BodyBoss home gym will not disappoint you.
Bodylastics resistance bands (Tubular)
Bodylastics resistance bands are probably the most durable and super tough resistance bands on the market.
I have used regular bands and they are fine especially the thicker ones, which are very durable and tough and probably will never snap, unless you misuse them.
But, the thinner ones which most of us will use for most of our exercises are susceptible to snapping or get worn out with time, at least that’s what happened to my bands.
Bodylastics have the ANTI-SNAP technology, which is a must if you are using resistance bands in your workouts.
It’s not only safe but it will save you time and money and most of all peace of mind knowing that you have high-quality bands.
Bodylastics resistance bands include:
- 6 Anti-Snap bands (3 lbs, 5 lbs, 8 lbs, 13 lbs, 19 lbs, 30 lbs)
- 2 Heavy Duty Warrior Handles
- 2 Heavy Duty Ankle Straps
- 1 Door Anchor
- 1 small anywhere anchor
- 1 Band Barrier
- 1 Carrying bag
- 1 Instructional Resource.
These are professional grade workout bands. Home complete bands are really tough and super durable if you gonna compare them to the rest.
The most annoying thing about low-quality flat bands is that when you wrap them around your knees or ankles, they tend to roll up and they don’t stay in their place.
I don’t know about you, but I find that really annoying when you are trying to focus on your workout.
So, next time when you decide to buy flat bands and you want to use for :
- Step in and out squats
- Running in your place while bands strapped around you ankles
- Various plyometrics moves
If you are doing these exercises or similar ones then you have to invest in high-quality flat bands, no doubt about it.Check price on Amazon
Serious Steel resistance bands, pull-up, resistance & stretch(serious muscle building bands)
Serious steel resistance bands are the most durable resistance bands on the market right now. If you are looking for a resistance bands that will NEVER snap and SUPER durable then serious bands are the best choice.
These bands are for someone who is very serious about strength training and muscle buidling. They will elevate your strength and endurance to the next level, there’s no double doubt about that.
Serious steel bands are best used for:
- pull up assistance
If you think you will NEVER be able to do pull ups or you suck at them then these bands are a must have and I promise you they will help you in a way you never thought possible before.
Doing squats using these bands is the ultimate glute and thigh exercise that will definitely make your lower back and quads much stronger.
- push ups
Like I said before these bands can make push ups and other exercises very effective by putting more stress on the muscles and that way you can get better and faster results as if you are using weights.Check price on Amazon
Drawbacks of Resistance bands
1-Resistance bands can and will break and can hurt the wrists
Unlike free weights, resistance bands are made from rubbery material and that means overusing or misusing them they will get damaged, especially the lighter ones.
There are 2 main types of resistance bands which are flat or thin bands and tubular bands.
- Tubular bands, they come in different resistance levels and colours. Tubular bands are best used for upper body and core exercises.
- Flat or thin bands, they also come in different resistance levels and colours. Flat resistance bands are best used for lower body exercises to strengthen thighs and glutes.
The best resistance bands are made from Latex material. Latex is very tough and durable and last way longer than other materials.
The other thing to remember is that some of the resistance bands handles are made from a hard plastic material that can hurt the wrists when they come in contact with the wrists. Exercises like explosive bicep curls, punching, standing shoulder presses will hurt the arm and wrist.
2-You can’t measure progress with bands
One of the biggest drawbacks of using resistance bands is that you can’t quantify, measure gains and, resistance training progress.
With free weights, it’s very easy to measure your progress and improve on that. If you used 20lb today, you know that if you need to improve you have to increase your weights next time you work out.
Resistance bands are measured on the basis of length, width, and thickness of the bands, which is not really straightforward math where you can easily track your progress.
For people who love numbers, it can be challenging to measure progress.
3-You can’t build a lot of muscle mass
Muscle hypertrophy is where weight training has the upper hand.
Muscle hypertrophy is an increase in muscle mass. It’s well documented that weight training has been proven to be very effective in increasing muscle mass and size.
On the other hand, despite that resistance bands are also effective in increasing muscle mass but weight training remains the household name for muscle mass and growth.
Benefits of free weights
1-Free weights allow you to use a full range of motion
Free weights allow you to execute every exercise perfectly because the targeted muscle has the freedom to extend and flex naturally with no restrictions.
Our muscles have been naturally designed to move freely and take full advantage of the full range of motion.
Full range of motion is one of the main factors why free weights are very effective in increasing muscle strength and size.
2-Free weights are very effective for functional training exercises
The benefits of doing functional training are endless.
Functional training has been proven time and time again to help you gain more muscle, lose more fat, far fewer injuries, relieves joint and muscle pain, and it’s safe and effective for people of all ages.
Free weights and functional training is a marriage made in heaven. If you do functional training exercise while holding a pair of dumbbells, you are making that exercise 10x more effective than doing it without weights.
Next time when you are doing any functional training exercise, grab a set of weights and see for yourself.
3-Activate and strengthen stabilising muscles
Weight training is the only type of a workout that activates and strengthens stabilising muscles. Stabilising muscles are small muscles that hold our organs and joints in place.
Stabilising muscles are located at:
- Core and lower back
- Hip Joints
- Shoulder complex
- Other joints
Strengthening these muscles stabilises the muscles that are connected to the spine and other joints, which means it strengthens the shoulders, core muscles, the lower back, and other joints. Ultimately, free weights can prevent so many injuries.
Don’t underestimate the power of free weights and weight training.
4-Build a serious muscle mass
As I have mentioned before that resistance bands are not the best option for increasing muscle mass. Free weights, on the other hand, are the most effective tool to increase muscle mass.
In simple words, the more stress you put on your muscles equals more muscle mass and free weights were made for this purpose.
5-You can measure progress and improve
With free weights, it’s a matter of adding more weights and more reps, and the magic happens.
If you want to increase the size of your muscles you simply increase the weight. If you want to more definition, then you keep the same weights and increase repetitions.
As you can see it’s very easy to see the big difference between resistance bands vs free weights, when it comes to how to measure and improve muscle size, strength, and mass.
6-Core targeting exercises are more effective with free weights
The core is built from a variety of different muscles. It consists of Abs, obliques, lower back muscles, and so many small muscles all work together to keep our core strong and stable.
Both resistance bands and free weights have been proven to be effective in strengthening the core.
Despite there are so many different types of core exercises using resistance bands, but they tend to involve more muscle groups, which means they don’t only target the core muscles. This makes the exercise less effective in strengthening the core muscles.
Core strengthening exercises emphasise the true and the evident difference between resistance bands and free weights.
Free weights can target the core muscles individually and collectively depending on the exercise. This means you have more options and variety in strengthening the core muscles.
Free weights, a full range of motion, and functional training are a very effective and irresistible combination in strengthening the core.
If you want to get serious about getting ripped and defined core muscles then free weights are the way to go.
7-Free weights will never break or get damaged (high-quality weights)
High-quality free weights don’t break and they are worth the investment. Who doesn’t want to buy something that never breaks and knows that they invested their money in something that will last a lifetime.
Top rated dumbbells that you should invest in if you are working out at home
Ironmaster dumbbells are probably the highest quality dumbbells around. they built from 100% steel, I mean every single piece of it and the design is the closest to regular looking dumbbells that you see in the gym.
The other dumbbells that I have seen are not made from 100% steel, which is ironic!.
Simply because they are priced as same as Ironmaster or even more expensive.
There so many buyers that complain about how they bought Bowflex dumbbells and after few months the plates broke or got damaged.
The thing is that if I’m going to spend around $500 on something, I expect it to be of the highest quality, right?
I don’t want to buy a plastic thing for that price.
Invest in something that will last a lifetime.Check price on Amazon
If you can’t afford to buy high-quality dumbbells that cost an arm and a leg, then you should consider CAP dumbbells.
CAP dumbbells are the best option for people who are on a budget but they are still serious about working out and getting into shape.
That’s exactly what I did when I first started to work
out at home. I started with CAP dumbbells and I never had any problem with using these in any exercise I did.
The only drawback with these dumbbells is that fact that you spend so much time changing plates around, which is a very annoying. Other than that I can’t think of anything else that is bad about these dumbbells.Check price on Amazon
Drawbacks of free weights
1- Free weights are more expensive than resistance bands
Free weights are way more expensive than resistance bands. 200lb of free weights will cost you around $200, but resistance bands will cost a fraction of that price.
At the end of the day, you have to decide whether weights are worth the investment or not.
2-Free weights take more storage space than resistance bands
As you progress in your workouts you will need to use more weights, even if you are not trying to bulk up.
Our muscles need to be stressed if not then there’s no progress and that means more weights are needed.
If you started with 40lb of free weights, in few weeks you need 60lb, more weights means more storage space and so on and so forth.
3-Free weights can cause injuries if not handled with caution
There so many ways you can injure yourself with free weights. Weight training injuries have been on the rise since the 90s because of the increased popularity of weight training.
The most common free weights training injuries are:
- Straining the muscles by lifting heavy weights
- Improper weightlifting techniques
- Hitting yourself or someone working out next to you.
- Dropping the weights
- Improper handling of weights
Unfortunately, injuries and weight training come hand in hand. It’s important to take extra caution when handling free weights at home or at the gym or anywhere else.
4-You don’t have full control of weights
For beginners, this is a reality check. When we start weight training for the first time we tend to underestimate the weights we are lifting.
Ego comes into play and we try to lift heavy to impress the people around us and suddenly you are not in control of weights and the weights are in control of you.
It’s important to respect the weights your are lifting and don’t ever underestimate them.
What type of resistance bands should you get?
When it comes to buying resistance bands it’s really important to buy the right type of resistance bands.
How do you decide?
Like I said before there are 2 types of resistance bands, which are tubular and flat bands.
Tubular bands are the best for
- Chest exercises
- Bicep exercises
- Tricep exercises
- Shoulder exercises
- lat exercises
- Back exercises
If you are targeting these muscle groups then tubular resistance bands are a MUST.
On the other hands, flat bands are the best for:
- Glutes exercises
- Thigh exercises
- Hamstring exercises
- Pilates exercises
I’m sure some of you will be like
I’m sure I can use tubular bands for all these exercises and you are absolutely right, of course, you can.
BUT, let me tell what my personal experience taught me from using just one type for all.
I did TAPOUT XT program for about 2 years. If you don’t know much about TAPOUT XT, it’s probably the only workout program out there that uses resistance bands in every workout.
What I learned from it is that if you want to get the best results from using resistance bands then you have to use the right type of a band for specific exercises.
Trust me, it will make a huge difference in your workouts for sure.
Trying to do leg workouts with tubular bands is not the same as doing it with flat ones.
Final thought about resistance bands vs free weights
As you can see that resistance bands and free weights have so many advantages and disadvantages.
The biggest advantage that both resistance bands and free weights have it’s that you can incorporate both into any workout and reap the amazing benefits that resistance bands and free weights can offer.
I have been using both for years and I have realised that resistance bands are very effective for a certain type of workouts and free weights are also designed for specific type of exercises.
Some of the exercise that resistance bands are the best for are:
Like doing Kempo or kickboxing or any martial art moves. Resistance bands are the best for these type of exercises.
Have you ever tried to do knees-ups or tuck jumps while using bands, I do all the time, and it’s a KILLER MOVE? Other exercises like LUNGS, SQUATS, BACK EXERCISES…
These are usually used to strengthen the core area and the small muscles (stabilizers) that so many people tend to ignore.
The most common exercises you can do using weights are:
Bench and presses
Finally, what I would like to say is that regardless of which one you prefer, the important thing is to know wich one is the best option for your workout plan and don’t forget to enjoy what you do at all times, because if you don’t then what’s the point.