Resistance Bands or Free Weights? What's Right For You?
Posted by GR0
So you're finally going to start an awesome resistance training program. Maybe you're shooting to get stronger for your upcoming triathlon, or maybe you just want to get stronger, period. After all, resistance training has a whole slew of healthy benefits, including increasing bone density as well as metabolism.
Now that you've decided you want to improve your health, where do you start? Should you go for the free weights or resistance bands? Well, the better of the two is pretty subjective, as it really depends on what you're trying to achieve from your workout.
You see, not all pieces of fitness equipment are made equal -- that's why we're here to give you all the deets about free weights vs. resistance bands so you can figure out which one is best for your goals.
Let's get started!
Free Weights vs. Resistance Bands: The Ultimate Showdown
Before we dive into the differences between free weights and bands, let's quickly go over what exactly resistance training is, shall we?
Also known as strength training, resistance training is the use of resistance to muscular contraction to build strength, anaerobic endurance, and the size of skeletal muscles. It's based on the principle that muscles of the body will work hard to overcome a resistance force when they're required to do so.
When you implement resistance workouts into your fitness routine, your muscles will become stronger. It's recommended that adults do muscle-strengthening activities at least two days each week.
There are many different ways you can strengthen your muscles, whether at home or at the gym. Two of the most popular types of resistance training include free weights and bands -- but which one is best?
Let’s Break Them Down:
Bands are simply elastic straps or tubes that provide external resistance against your muscles. They engage your muscles being targeted to fight the tension throughout the entire exercise being performed.
On the other hand, free weights are a popular type of gym equipment offering an unlimited range of motion. They are called "free" because you're able to pick them up and do whatever you want with them. The most common free weights are barbells and dumbbells.
Essentially, resistance can be created by gravity when exercising with free weights, or by elastic force when working out with bands. So the key difference between the two is the effect it has on your muscles.
Advantages Of Resistance Bands
Bands definitely have their fair share of advantages when it comes to comparing these versatile tools to free weights. Here are a few of them:
Bands may be physically flexible, but what we're talking about here is their flexibility in terms of how practical they are. When it comes to the direction of resistance in strength training, bands open up new doors. When pulled in any direction, the resistance automatically comes from the opposite direction.
For instance, if you're doing a bicep curl and stretching the band from the ground, the direction of resistance will be downwards. Alternatively, if you attach your brand to a mid-level anchor and use it for chest flies, the direction of resistance comes from behind your body.
The positioning of the anchor matters, as well. You can perform the same chest fly exercise with your bands connected to a high anchor, and your chest muscles will be worked differently from a mid-level anchor.
With bands, you are in total control and can manipulate their direction, making them extremely handy for accessing different fitness training methods with the same piece of equipment.
A band provides tension throughout the entire movement. It doesn't matter if you perform the movement slow or fast—there will always be constant tension, so you really can't cheat! The relentless tension that they provide throughout the entire range of motion is crucial when it comes to building muscle. This is something free weights lack.
We all know proper form is essential for building muscular strength and symmetry. It also greatly reduces the risk of injury. That said, with free weights, you're more likely to rely on other muscles to help you push through an exercise.
For instance, when doing standing dumbbell curls, you may use your back to swing the weight up rather than just utilizing your bicep. Unfortunately, this completely defeats the purpose of using just your biceps for this exercise. It also puts you at risk for injuring your back.
Bands isolate the muscle you're training, ultimately allowing you to really focus on and improve your form.
Advantages of Free Weights
Now let's talk about good 'ol free weights. In terms of fitness training, free weights have a couple of advantages:
With traditional resistance bands, you can’t control the exact resistance on bands and you likely have no idea how much weight you’re using, as the resistance increases the more you pull it. With free weights, you always know how much weight you’re using at any given time, and if you want to go lighter or heavier, simply change the weight. This is often cited as a flaw of training with other kinds of resistance.
With GEAR 1, you DO know much weight you’re using, because of the smart fitness sensors that track your workout date. When you use GEAR 1 from HYGEAR, the state-of-the-art sensor technology will automatically track and analyze critical measurements like power generated, reps, speed pace, and more to effortlessly track your exercise progress.
Gone are the days of not knowing if you're making any progress with your strength training routine -- with GEAR 1, you're in total control and can view real-time tracking and workout data to help you achieve your goals sooner rather than later.
Combat Muscle Imbalances
It's not uncommon to have a difference in strength on each side of your body. Sometimes your body becomes more dominant on one side, which ultimately leads to that specific side taking on more of the work.
With free weights, it’s easy to load the same weight on each side to avoid this issue. It’s also easier to find muscle imbalances and then train to correct them. That’s why GEAR 1 continually analyzes your performance with sensors in each band, and recommends modifications to your workout routine or suggests different exercises to build strength where you need it most.
Bottom Line: Which Is Best?
So, bands or free weights -- which method of resistance training is best?
At the end of the day, there's really no right answer to this question. Both are excellent for a number of things and have their place in our workouts. But if we had to choose one over the other, bands come out on top. Why? Because it’s easier to isolate specific muscles without dangerously straining other parts of the body, which is common in a free weight exercise. Plus, bands are especially useful for rehabilitation. There is less stress applied to the body with less force going through joints (aka, there's a smaller chance of injury with bands).
Ready to reach your fitness goals? HYGEAR GEAR 1 can help. Designed to be an all-in-one portable smart fitness system that can work every muscle while delivering real-time feedback to help you improve your performance, GEAR 1 offers an incredible full-body workout like no other resistance training system on the market.
Whether your goal is to build strength, burn calories, or boost muscular endurance, GEAR 1 can get you there.
"Resistance training is medicine: effects of strength training on health." Current sports medicine | NIH
Anaerobic Endurance for Aerobic Conditioning | NCSF