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For people who love to exercise, it is worth spending time researching the right equipment that not only works but is also affordable. The cost of exercise equipment and gym memberships can deter people from putting any effort into exercising. Can resistance bands be the answer to this concern? If so, are they just as effective as gym machines?
Resistance bands are portable and lightweight, which allows for continuous exercise. Often yielding similar results to free weights, resistance bands are also effective with free range of motion, resistance, and speed variations, helping stabilize muscle groups to prevent over-extension of joints.
For those who love working out but are mostly on the go, resistance bands are great because they are easily packed into suitcases. Free weights and resistance bands have similar classifications in terms of being exercise equipment not attached to machines.
Read on to find out the differences between gym machines, free weights, and resistance bands. See also: Is Doing Pull Ups Everyday Overtraining – Here’s the answer.
Table of Contents
Gym Machines Vs. Free Weights
A lot of people do not know the different benefits and drawbacks of using exercise machines and free weights at the gym. Does it really matter which you choose? Is there really a difference between gym machines and free weights when all you want to do is exercise or build muscle?
Gym machines provide resistance training and basic guidance on general exercise motions, targeting the development of certain muscle groups. Free weights are exercise tools that provide resistance training targeted to build certain muscles. Free weights are not attached to a machine.
You now know that free weights may have similar effects in building muscle as exercising using gym machines, except when working out, the person using free weights has more mobility in dictating the:
- Range of motion
For the most part, Gym machines limit the user’s range of motion as attachments to a machine result in predetermined, fixed movements. Continue to find out more about how resistance bands fit into the workout structure.
Free Weights Vs. Resistance Bands
Let us say you love to exercise, but you are limited because your work requires constant travel. You like the idea of working out on the go as opposed to signing up for a gym membership that you may not always be able to afford or use. What are your options regarding what exercise equipment you can use that can be portable?
Free weights are exercise tools that provide resistance training targeting certain muscles for development. Free weights are not attached to a machine.
Resistance bands are a form of free weight since they are not attached to machines. Unlike most free weights that are usually heavy and made of steel, resistance bands are made of stretchable rubber that provides resistance when stretched.
Wait. Did you read that right? Resistance bands are a form of free weight? Yes, they are.
Most free weights are made of hardened steel, but some are made of rubber. Free weights have similar effects in targeting the development of specific muscle groups but are further classified based on the materials they are made of and their portability. Keep reading as we continue to break it down.
See also: Does Running Make Your Legs Bigger
What Are The Types Of Free Weights?
Different types of free weights serve varying purposes during exercise. There are free weights that mainly cater to strengthening limb muscles such as the arms and legs. But some target different parts of our upper body, like the back, chest, and abdomen.
Types of Free Weights:
- Kettle Bells
- Medicine Balls
- Sand Bells
- Standard and Olympic weight plates
You may have noticed the above list does not include resistance bands. Although resistance bands are a form of free weight, it is interesting to note that the free weights listed above are mostly based on resistance brought on by weight. Resistance bands are free weights but provide resistance training without the use of weight per se but through stretching of a rubber band that increases tension as its width thickens.
See also: Can You Do Too Much Yoga?
Are Resistance Bands As Effective As Free Weights?
Depending on your purpose for working out, there can be similarities in how regular free weights and resistance bands align.
But can resistance bands replace free weights in general as effective resistance training equipment? Resistance bands are beneficial to exercise tools for resistance strength training, with the focal point targeting increased athleticism and functional mobility. It has not been established if resistance bands can be used effectively for bodybuilding and body sculpting purposes.
Regular free weights and gym machines have historically yielded positive results when it comes to bodybuilding.
If your goal is to build and sculpt your body of muscle regardless of functional movements and vitality, free weights, and gym machines have the historical efficacy to help you succeed. Unlike gym machines and free weights, resistance bands do not use weight for strength training.
Bands are considered effective in strengthening muscles for functional utility but are unproven in body sculpting.
What Are The Types Of Resistance Bands?
Being lightweight and portable are major advantages resistance bands have over traditional gym apparatuses and free weights. No plans to join a bodybuilding contest? Resistance bands could be the right workout equipment for you.
You can build, strengthen, and isolate muscles for development and increased functionality using stretchable rubber bands that can weigh less than your smartphone.
The Types Of Basic Resistance Bands:
|Loop Power Bands||5 – 200+ lbs.||– Builds Endurance|
– Promotes Flexibility
– Strengthens Muscles
|Tube Resistance Bands With Handles||10 – 50 lbs.||– Range of MotionLight Impact on joints|
– Used for rehabilitation of muscle strength
|Rubber Mini Bands||5 – 50 lbs.||– Used for muscle stability|
– Good for body toningEffective for warm-ups
|Light Therapy Resistance Bands||3 – 10 lbs.||– Useful for weight loss programs|
– Good for muscle toning
– Used to rehabilitate muscle strength
|Figure Eight Bands||8 – 20 lbs.||– Good for weight loss|
– Building endurance
– Used to improve muscle strength
You may have noticed that there are five basic types of resistance bands.
Loop power bands stand out as the most common form of resistance bands. They can be seen in households of people who love to exercise. They are a staple for energetic individuals that are constantly traveling. Loop power bands are also available for use in most membership gyms for those who care to use them. Read on to learn more.
How Do Resistance Bands Work?
Unlike exercise machines and free weights, resistance bands do not use weight to provide resistance in strengthening muscles. So, you might wonder: how do resistance bands work to empower muscles to develop the type of flexibility and functionality we so desire?
Resistance bands are made of stretchable rubber materials that, when stretched, provide similar resistance to that of weights. The progressive thickness of their width measures the resistance produced by resistance bands. The thicker the width gets, the more resistance is produced.
The argument as to the efficacy of resistance bands continues to favor individuals that value strength training with the aim of developing functional mobility and athleticism. They can also be used for rehabilitation therapy of muscles.
Resistance bands are also good for body toning and coordination. Yes, one can do bench presses using resistance bands. But it has not been tested for efficiency at sculpting muscles just yet.
What Are The Benefits Of Resistance Bands?
You might be wondering about what benefits resistance bands have over gym machines and free weights in your exercise program.
If you are not a constant traveler, will the benefits of resistance bands far outweigh those of traditional resistance equipment enough to convince you to try them out? Will the resistance be enough to build and strengthen muscle for usability?
Benefits of Using Resistance Bands When Working Out
Let’s dig into some of the benefits of resistance band workouts so you can decide for yourself whether these are right for you:
- Resistance bands are much more affordable in comparison to all gym machines and most free weights. They are a very cost-efficient way of getting healthy and happy.
- Like free weights, resistance bands offer different levels of resistance to suit the needs of the user. Loop bands can be looped or re-looped to calibrate desired resistance for certain exercises without using multiple bands.
- There is far more variety in terms of exercises that can be done using resistance bands than using gym machines and free weights. Resistance bands are lightweight, and flexibility comes naturally.
- Resistance bands do not limit the body to a type of muscle to isolate and develop. Exercise can be performed anywhere and can be assisted by a variety of props to hook, wrap or loop a band to suit the desired effect.
- Portability is a major advantage for resistance bands over gym machines and free weights. The lightweight feature allows mobile individuals workout opportunities while traveling.
- Ease of storage is a significant plus for resistance bands. Unlike bulky free weights and gym machines, resistance bands can be carried around and stored effortlessly.
- Resistance bands can be added to gym equipment and free weights to vary strength training exercises. They are an excellent addition to a cross-training program.
- Safety is important when exercising. The lightweight portability of resistance bands provides the safest workout environment limiting concerns about possible injuries from heavy equipment usage.
- Flexibility is key to preventing joint and muscle injury. Resistance bands allow exercisers to be creative with free range of motion exercises, limiting impact on joints.
- Most effective workouts come with variations. The more exercises that can be performed using less limiting equipment will allow for maximum resistance strength training (Quilty).
Exercising brings you plenty of health benefits regardless of the equipment you or don’t use. You may work out light and focus more on the functional mobility of the muscles you use every day.
Resistance bands are beneficial for functional mobility but are also terrific for cross-training with other exercise equipment.
See also: Are Fitness Trackers Safe to Wear?
When Are Resistance Bands The Most Effective?
Working out seems simple to most but can have its own complications. So, what is so complicated about getting up from the couch and hitting the exercise routine, you wonder? This depends on which part of your body you want to develop. More accurately, which muscle groups are you targeting? After you make this decision, it can come down to which equipment suits your aim best. So, where do resistance bands fit?
Resistance bands come in various levels of resistance that can be used by a beginner and also by a professional. They provide the most efficacy when used for strength training to develop muscles for functional purposes or restore previous functions.
You probably never thought that exercising could cause you to worry about choices you make, not only about the right workouts but also about which equipment suits your needs. Resistance bands, like free weights, provide more mobility and do not limit exercises in which you want to engage.
They can be used to work out muscles from varying angles and alignments, and, as we’ve mentioned above, they are also significantly more portable than free weights.
Basic Exercises Using Resistance Bands
Most people are not adept at using resistance bands for exercise. It might take some time to get used to them when you’re using them to work out.
Generally, most exercises that can be done using free weights can be adapted when using resistance bands.
For the simplest of exercises, from bicep curls to sit-ups, resistance bands can be used as a counter to provide the needed tension to develop muscle strength.
There are seven basic human movement patterns. Each one has a purpose and functionality that can stimulate all the major muscle groups of the human body.
|Movement Pattern||Primary Muscles Involved||Equipment|
|Squats||– Quadriceps Femoris (Quads)|
– Gluteal Muscles
|When using resistance bands, the exerciser can decide whether to maintain resistance by bending knees downward or coming up from a squat position|
– Side Lunge
|– Quadriceps Femoris (Quads)|
– Gluteal Muscles
|Resistance bands need to be hooked securely overhead to perform any of the lunges effectively|
|– Gluteal Muscles|
|Like in squats, the resistance of bands when doing hinge exercises can come from the pull hinging down or hinging up. Resistance bands can be looped overhead for downward hinge resistance and can be stepped on by the exerciser to provide resistance hinging up.|
– Bent over pull
– Single-arm row
– Lateral pullover
|– The Back|
– Biceps Brachii
– The Shoulder Muscles
|Resistance bands can be stepped upon or anchored on the ground for tension during pull exercises.|
– Bench Press
– Chest Fly
– Shoulder Press
– Incline Press
|– Shoulder and Chest Muscles|
– Triceps Brachii
|Resistance bands need to be anchored on the ground in performing most of the push exercises so they can provide tension similar to free weights.|
– Russian Twist
– Medicine Ball Rotational Slam
– Reverse Lunge Twist
|– Muscles of the midsection (Core)||When using resistance bands performing rotation exercises, it is best to anchor the bands laterally for tension during twisting movements.|
– Load Offset Exercises
– Carry Exercises Like Waiter and Suitcase Carries
|– Muscles of the midsection (Core)||Resistance bands can be looped and anchored for tension depending on the direction in which the exerciser wants resistance.|
Depending on the group of muscles you want to develop, using free weights is the most pragmatic and safest for strength training.
Enter resistance bands, and you have options for continuity to your exercise regimen anywhere you go. Resistance bands do not always provide certain results that gym machines or other free weights can produce. But they are the safest and the most packable option that yields similar results.
See also: Is Doing Push Ups Everyday Overtraining
How Safe Are Resistance Bands For Exercise?
With all you have learned about resistance bands and their benefits, you may still wonder if they’re safe to use. If you are used to working out using gym exercise apparatuses and free weights, it might take time to get used to resistance bands.
But you have always pondered the safety of using equipment that carries lots of weight. Are resistance bands a safer option?
Resistance bands are lightweight and portable exercise tools that yield very similar results to those of traditional gym tools and free weights. They are considered safer options due to their ability to produce tension without using weight.
Technically considered free weights, resistance bands allow for a maximum range of motion during exercise, minimizing joint impact and reducing injury.
Think of resistance bands as plastic eating utensils that serve up their purpose but are less blunt and cause less harm when accidents do happen.
Whether you are a person who exercises regularly or one who dabbles whenever there is free time, your choice of exercise equipment will eventually hinge on your purpose for working out. Is your workout purely for bodybuilding without much focus on muscle functionality?
Is it for rehabilitating a healing muscle group in hopes of gaining its former usability? These questions are essential in determining how you can use resistance bands to build, develop, and strengthen your target muscle groups.
Resistance bands are technically a free-weight exercise tool that is not attached to machines and allows for more mobility. The difference between traditional free weights like dumbbells and barbells compared to resistance bands is how tension is produced during strength training.
Traditional free weights are often heavy and bulky and use weight for resistance. The efficiency of resistance bands hinges on transportability and weightlessness while yielding results akin to traditional resistance training tools.