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Resistance Bands Versus Weight Training

by
author image Nick Ng
Nick Ng has been writing fitness articles since 2003, focusing on injury prevention and exercise strategies. He has covered health for "MiaBella" magazine. Ng received his Bachelor of Arts in communications from San Diego State University in 2001 and has been a certified fitness coach with the National Academy of Sports Medicine since 2002.
Resistance Bands Versus Weight Training
A woman is training with resistance bands. Photo Credit 4774344sean/iStock/Getty Images

No single exercise equipment or method will train every aspect of human performance. Each has its own advantages and disadvantages, which you as a consumer must make educated choices about when choosing or buying exercise equipment. With resistance band training and weight training, each method has its role in improving your athletic performance.

How They Work

Resistance band training and weight training both provide neural stimulation for strength, speed and power development. Most weight training methods are vertical loaded, meaning that the resistance is gravity-based, which goes in one direction. Resistance band training can be done in multiple directions by placing the band’s point of attachment in different heights, such as above your head, chest level or ground level. Its resistance changes throughout the exercise as you increase and decrease the tension of the band, while in weight training, the resistance is typically constant. Band training also emphasizes on eccentric load training or force reduction, where you have to control the speed of the movement when you return the band to its original length.

Types of Equipment

Different types of bands apply different stretch forces or resistances, ranging from a few pounds to 30 or more pounds. Companies apply color codes to identify the bands' strength.

Weight training comes in many forms, such as free weights and resistance training machines. Free weights such as dumbbells, kettlebells and barbells, allow you to move in many directions, while most machines allow you to move in one direction in a fixed position. Cable pulley machines combine the benefits of both free weights and machine training by allowing you to adjust the height and angle of the handles, change the type of handles, and move in various directions.

Advantages

Resistance band training is economic and portable and can be done almost anywhere. You can build a lot of strength and speed without increasing muscle mass.

If you wish to increase muscle mass and develop higher raw power, weight training will help you achieve those goals. In fact, both methods compliment each other in an exercise program.

Disadvantages

Resistance bands tend to break after frequent use, which could be a few weeks to a few months, and need replacement. They also do not increase much muscle mass.

Weight training equipment is more expensive and require more skill and care than exercise bands. Although most free weights require little maintenance, exercise machines need frequent maintenance and may not be cost effective in the long run.

Trying Supersets

Combine both methods by doing two exercises back to back where you do one exercise with a band and another with a cable column or free weight. This is known as a superset.

For example, you can do a dumbbell chest press on a stability ball first and do band punching second. The first exercise works on stability and strength, while the second one works on speed, endurance and timing, using the similar movement pattern. This will help you save time, increase calorie expenditure and keep your workouts fun and creative.

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