There are so many ways to exercise. So you may be wondering which workout method is best suited to help you meet your personal fitness goals. Both free weights and resistance bands offer great potential for building strength, and both types of equipment have their pros and cons. In this article, Buffalo’s best-known certified fitness trainer, Christopher Lee, discusses five reasons to put down the weights and let resistance bands take over your strength training routine.
If you travel a lot or enjoy taking your workout to the park once in a while, you know that packing free weights is not exactly practical. Resistance bands are lightweight. Plus, they take up hardly any space in a gym bag, and they won’t get you a pat-down by the TSA. Additionally, resistance bands are easy to modify, enabling you to do more with less equipment. Simply shorten or lengthen the band to provide more or less resistance as needed.
- No Cheating Allowed
When working out with weights, gravity naturally creates resting points during your range of motion. For example, even when trying to maintain resistance during a bicep curl, momentum is always going to “help” you complete a rep. Resistance bands don’t offer rest points. Instead, they maintain tension no matter where you are in your arc.
What’s more, when working out with weights, you need to select a weight you can handle at your weakest ROM points, which gives you a break at the strongest points. On the contrary, tension increases with the continued stretching of a band and will challenge your muscles at every motion point.
Resistance bands allow you to work eccentric, concentric, and isometric contractions from any angle. With free weights, you are basically limited to working vertically since the resistance comes from gravity. Movements used while exercising with resistance bands are more aligned with natural, everyday activities. But at the same time, you can also isolate particular muscle groups for sculpting.
Go ahead, drop that resistance band on your toe. No, it doesn’t hurt. But when it comes to working out safely, it’s really body mechanics you need to worry about—not the occasional klutzy move.
To get total resistance from a free weight, it’s sometimes necessary to put your body in a vulnerable position, like during a bench press. Without a spotter, losing control of the barbell could result in a broken nose or crushed windpipe. If you can’t complete a challenging set of reps with a resistance band, you’re not putting your safety (or anyone else’s safety) at risk.
- Easy Progression
Most of you know that progression with weights is intuitive and straightforward. When a set of curls with a 10-pound weight becomes too easy, grab a 15-pound weight instead.
What you may not know is that resistance bands offer simple progression, too, and without the need to switch out equipment as you exercise different muscle groups. You can double up the band, stretch it from the center out (instead of using a full extension), or use two at a time for more tension.
Hop On the Bandwagon
If you’d like to simplify your strength training routine without sacrificing results, a resistance band could just be your favorite new piece of equipment. They are versatile, safe (even for fitness beginners), and strong enough to provide a challenge for athletes who need to keep pushing.
About Christopher Lee
Christopher Lee is a certified fitness trainer based in Buffalo, NY. His areas of expertise include science-based nutrition, athletic performance, weight loss, and functional training. His approach to working with clients is to customize an empowering program for each individual’s needs and preferences.