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Weights vs Resistance Bands | Do You Need Weights?
When it comes to weights vs resistance bands, which is better?
That’s the question we are tackling today.
For some, it’s a no-brainer, weights, obviously.
However, others may fall on the side of using resistance bands.
In my opinion, both are great but have different benefits, purposes, and value toward specific goals.
Weights can be a hassle for some and cause unwanted stress and pain for preexisting conditions.
But, for those with serious issues, sometimes using bands will facilitate better what they need in an exercise.
The biggest thing to remember here is that weights and resistance bands are valuable in fitness.
Several people stray from bands, deny their place in bodybuilding, and see them as useless or for the “weak.”
Nothing could be farther from the truth.
Both weights and resistance bands have their place in building muscle and creating positive growth in fitness.
First, let’s discuss the similarities and differences of weights vs resistance bands.
Weights vs Resistance Bands
What are the Differences?
Resistance bands come in all varieties, but they are always bands.
Made from elastics and rubber, they come in several sizes, widths, lengths, and resistance levels.
Being that they are bands, they are already highly different in construction and composition from standard weights.
Weights also come in all varieties, but they are generally constructed from iron, steel or a mixture, and sometimes utilize water or sand as a basis for weight.
For the most part, weights will be much more expensive than any sort of resistance band used for fitness.
However, you can perform a lot of weight-reliant exercises with objects around the house, whereas resistance band style exercises are hard to replicate without the bands.
Another thing to look at is the portability and versatility of each.
Weights, with their whole range of variety, can be highly versatile — not so portable.
Resistance bands also come in several construction types, so can be versatile as well.
I would say they aren’t as versatile as weights, but they are without a doubt more portable.
Weights vs Resistance Bands — The Similarities
Though there may not seem to be any visual similarities between the two, similarities do exist.
The main similarities are that they both can help build muscle and they both can facilitate rehabilitation.
Also, you can do some incredible, very beneficial stretching with both weights and resistance bands.
Not many people think that weighted stretches actually work or are safe, but they can be.
Stretching out the muscles with resistance bands is much easier to do, safer and comfortable — but it can also be done with traditional weights.
If you hold two heavy dumbbells and hang your arms down with your chest on a bench, you’ll feel a great stretch in your chest, arms and shoulders.
Furthermore, resistance bands can have resistance levels up to 200lbs, which means the ability to build muscle is even more comparable to traditional weights.
In a sense, the tool may appear different, but the purpose for it can be the same.
Weights vs resistance bands — they both can achieve the same things while being quite different.
Related: What Can I Use Instead of Dumbbells?
Weights vs Resistance Bands: Benefits of Bands
Great for Recovery and Stretching
Recovery and stretching are both way too overlooked in the fitness world.
The amount of stretching that can be done with resistance bands is amazing.
This is why physical therapists and doctors will recommend using them for injury recovery.
But, not only are stretching and recovery from injuries and accidents vital, it is also good to stretch and recover after working out.
One of the best ways to avoid extreme soreness and muscle tightness is by doing basic stretching.
With the resistance bands, you can target your muscles in more ways and angles for stretching.
For stretching and recovery, I would say the resistance bands are killing it compared to weights.
Perfect for Weightless Muscle Building
The biggest misconception brought against resistance bands is that they “can’t build muscle.”
Resistance or stress on the muscle is what creates the progressive overload.
Progressive overload is the key to building strength and muscle.
There’s a reason resistance bands are also called “strength bands” and it’s because they build strength.
With such variable ranges nowadays, you can get resistance bands in almost every weight increment.
So, if you don’t feel safe curling 50lb dumbbells, then use a 50lb resistance band for bicep curls.
A lot of exercises and movements can be done with resistance bands and the effort needed is definitely there.
But, are the bands better or at least equal to using weights for muscle gain?
That’s the big question when you ponder weights vs resistance bands.
For some, that’s the only deciding factor, while others will try to account for all the features both bring to the table.
Yet, there is still a lot of positive benefits to discuss for using resistance bands, like their convenience.
Related: Band Training for Big Gains
There is nothing less portable than conventional weights.
It’s highly inconvenient to try and bring your dumbbells, barbells, and weight plates with you anywhere.
If anything, kettlebells may be the most convenient weight to transport, but even that is sometimes a hassle unless you only bring one.
If you need to, you can throw the bands over your shoulders and ride your bike to the gym, or the park, or anywhere for that matter.
The convenience of using resistance bands any and everywhere mixed with the ease of transporting them is a super important aspect.
You don’t even need a gym membership if you are only training with resistance bands — the world is your gym (I know, that’s very cheesy).
Weights vs Resistance Bands: Benefits of Weights
Tried and True Way to Gains
We all know that weightlifting is the true cornerstone of muscle gains and strength.
Weights have been around forever and though in the past heavy weightlifting seemed tailored to a niche group, the audience has expanded.
Many people in the gym have learned that the tried and true way to build muscle and even lose fat is through weightlifting.
Ask anyone who has achieved significant progress in the gym what their secret is and I’m sure it will involve nutrition and weights.
Even people who train in things like calisthenics will implement the use of weights to further their progress and gains.
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Lifting weights will always be a huge source of success in fitness.
Whether you choose dumbbells, kettlebells, barbell or anything in between, weights have variety.
The great thing about weights is that they sort of all work well together.
I would say most weights are modular and can be combined or used in exercises with each other.
Furthermore, you can do high-intensity supersets with weights.
Dumbbell curls, straight into barbell curl, then to kettlebell curls.
This variation is awesome for your muscles, keeps your body guessing and can be achieved back to back.
So, if you want more variety in the way you build your muscles, weights are the way to go.
However, you can always add in resistance bands with your weights to get even more variation.
Lastly, weights are great because they are universally known and used.
Basically, every commercial gym you can sign up for will have free weights.
At the very least, a full run of dumbbells.
Any gym you go to when traveling, staying in a hotel, or even going to someone’s home — you’re more likely going to find weights as opposed to resistance bands.
Most people who care about their fitness and health will have some dumbbells or a standard size barbell in their home.
This is because weights are universal, a great investment and can last a lifetime.
Though resistance bands are strong, there are different qualities available on the market.
What this entails is that some resistance bands will last longer than others and quality spans a huge spectrum.
Even with all the different brands of free weights out there, the weights themselves will usually last forever.
Weights vs Resistance Bands — Conclusion and Analysis
So, Which is Better for Muscle?
In my honest opinion, weights are and always will be the best for building muscle.
Yes, resistance bands will build muscle if used properly with high repetitions that are focused and controlled.
But, weights are just the king of muscle growth.
Depending on how you prefer to work out and how comfortable you are with each tool, you will still build muscle to a certain degree.
If you aren’t comfortable around weights, you’ll more likely build better muscle with bands, especially if your use of weights is seldom and of low intensity.
Figure out what is best for you and what feels like the most optimal workout.
How to Implement Both Productively
If you are comfortable with both weights and resistance bands, then implementing both is perfect!
Most people who don’t have any injuries will be able to benefit from both ways of gaining muscle.
Those of you who are lifting heavy with weights and doing accessory work with resistance bands, make sure you get something to amp up your performance.
Our Dark Iron Fitness wrist wraps will help you achieve even better results both with weights and resistance bands.
Weights help build your foundation and resistance bands challenge you during training.
Don’t limit yourself to one or the other, unless of course you physically must stay away from weights.
In my opinion, when it comes to weights vs resistance bands, you are better off always using both.