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Can You Get a Good Workout from Resistance Bands vs Weights?

The simplest, most functional piece of equipment may surprise you. We were skeptical when it comes to the equality of resistance bands vs free weights, because we prefer free weights most.

However, we’re all about trying new things, because after all, it’s important to change things up to keep your body guessing. Also, to recognize that’s what best for you, may not be what’s best for us, or your fitness buddy and vice versa.

So we were open to giving exercise bands a go, but wanted to know the science of resistance bands vs free weights first. In other words, if we’re going to do a workout with elastic bands, can we get the same or better benefit as with free weights?

You know how it is… we tend to prefer what’s most familiar. However, resistance bands are surprisingly versatile and capable of being used to perform a wide variety of exercises for all areas of the body for men and women. Researchers found that when it comes to resistance bands vs free weights, the elastic bands create equal gains in strength to that of free weights and machines!1)

Names for Resistance Bands

Other names for resistance bands include

  • Exercise Bands
  • Elastic Bands
  • Gym Bands
  • Resistance Bands
  • Resistance Tube
  • Rubber Bands (rubber band workouts)
  • Stretch Bands
  • Strength Bands
  • Workout Bands

Resistance bands pull their weight vs. the big boy free weights.

Benefits of Resistance Bands vs Free Weights

Elastic Resistance Training (ERT) can effectively be used to train the whole body with compound and isolation exercises. Tension used in the band creates resistance that doesn’t facilitate the use of momentum, as can be done with weights, so you can’t “cheat” the bands.

You can’t ‘cheat’ resistance bands with momentum.
~LeAura Alderson,

Resistance Bands vs Weights – Pros and Cons

Exercise Bands Pros

  1. Storage: Takes up less space
  2. Mobility: Lightweight!
  3. Travel: Great for travel fitness
  4. Isolation: You can’t use momentum with bands, so it’s easier to isolate the muscles you want to work
  5. Consistence: Consistent resistance, so less possibility of injury from gravity or momentum
  6. Safety: Less likelihood of joint injury, and reduces safety need for spotters
  7. Mobility: Especially good for range of motion (ROM) therapy and exercises, i.e., tension over a wider range without joint injury
  8. Sports: Great for sports and athletic training to strengthen in-motion muscles and agility such as tennis, golf, and MMA
  9. Price! Resistance bands are approximately 10x cheaper than the same amount in weights.

Exercise Bands Cons

  1. Safety: Bands have been known to snap and injure on the rebound
  2. Storage: Bands can be unwieldy and become a tangled mess in storage
  3. Efficiency: Takes more time to set up and change positions
  4. Efficacy: Less effective for body building because it’s harder to increase your weights
  5. Uncertainty: Most bands are not clearly marked as to resistance “weight” or power
  6. Longevity: Weights last longer

Resistance Bands – more Pros than Cons

In summary, the exercise band pros far outweigh the cons, in our assessment. However… we still love and use free weights!

The physics of resistance bands is amazing… like Bruce Lee: lightweight yet powerful.
~LeAura Alderson,

Resistance Band Tips 

As with free weights, when it comes to resistance bands, you need to choose the correct level of band resistance that suits your fitness level and specific workout.  The level of resistance in a band is often determined by color, however, that can be manufacturer-specific rather than industry specific.

In other words, not all red bands equal 20 lbs of resistance, or all green bands equal 10 lbs. So a general rule of thumb is choose thinner bands for less resistance, thicker for more.

  • Thinner bands for less resistance, thicker bands for more.
  • Warm up just as you would before any weight training exercise.
  • Purchase high-quality bands with good handles that won’t wear quickly and replace when they start to thin and lose elasticity.
  • If anything feels too easy, try using a heavier band with more tension.
  • If too hard, select a thinner band.
  • Be careful…a pop from a slipped band can smart!

Best Resistance Bands 1

We love that these top selling uPowex resistance bands show the weight value on each band. This makes it especially helpful for those of us more used to free weights to gauge which band to pick up to replace our usual weights. For those who like to experiment and geek out on the science of your own workouts and progress, you’ll have fun comparing the strength of these to the same workouts using dumbbells.

We also like that these have a choice of handle attachments and an accompanying workout guide and travel bag.

If you do and come up with your own stats and comparisons, let us know; we’d love to publish it here!

Some resistance bands are marked with an equivalent weight; some may be marked as ‘Light, Medium, Heavy’.

Best Resistance Bands 2 — Best for Travel

What we love about these elastic bands is how super simple they are. Just bands, no hardware, so perfect for travel fitness. Toss them in your suitcase, or better yet, your carry on so you can be prepared to exercise and energize during flight delays and on the plane!

long with a My Trainer Fitness 100 Calories workout 6 pack, and it’s easy to get your workout done in your hotel room, or at home.

Resistant bands are great for travel! You can exercise anywhere:

  • As a passenger on road trips
  • On a plane, (get creative and come up with your own “close in” movements)
  • In the airport while waiting… especially when flights are delayed
  • At work for a desk side workout
  • While waiting for the kids at dance, soccer, etc.

Workout anywhere. Don’t worry about stares. Anyone who judges you for seizing any opportunity to exercise, is either jealous or resentful because ultimately they know that exercising is better than sitting and sipping on that radical frappuccino.

“Those who mind don’t matter, and those who matter.” Author unknown

Resistance Band Workout by My Trainer Fitness with Carla Birnberg

Warm Up: Jog in place, 5 minutes
Move quickly through each exercise to complete 1 set, repeat up to 3 times.

CIRCUIT 1: 12 reps for each exercise – 3 Sets Total
1. Biceps Curl
2. Triceps Overhead Extension
3. Shoulder Press
4. Plié Pop-up (no band)

resistance band workouts, upper body workout #Workout #ResistanceBands #ResistanceBandsExercises #ResistanceBandsWorkouts #FreeWeights

CIRCUIT 2: 12 reps for each exercise – 3 Sets Total
1. Hammer Curl
2. Lateral Raise
3. Front Raise
4. Dip (from chair)
5. Squat Jump

resistance band workouts, upper body workout #Workout #ResistanceBands #ResistanceBandsExercises #ResistanceBandsWorkouts #FreeWeights

Conclusion of Resistance Bands vs Weights

We still love our free weights, especially dumbbells. For body building, we prefer weights. For toning and mobility strength, bands are great.

So we’re going to have to train ourselves to become as willing to pick up resistance bands as we are to grab a dumbbell. That said, what we love MOST about exercise bands is that you can carry 150 lbs of resistance in your carryon luggage or gym bag, and you certainly cannot do that with free weights!!

Resistance bands are like Hermione Granger’s magic bag: you can carry 150 lbs of resistance in your carryon luggage or gym bag! To do that with dumbbells, you’d need more magic!2)

Resistance bands are like magic; you can carry 150 lbs of resistance in your carryon luggage or gym bag!
~LeAura Alderson,

Bottom Line?

  1. Go with what works best for you (you’ll do more of what you enjoy most)
  2. Keep changing up what you do to keep your body from adapting
  3. Try new things to keep your workouts fresh and you learning and growing.

Our recommendation:

Try both. Give the bands a shot. You might be surprised. That’s what we’re doing. Especially when it comes to traveling (or office), I’m keeping bands in my travel bag as a portable gym for travel fitness.

Exercise bands are great as a portable travel “gym”. But hang onto those dumbbells and barbells because there’s nothing like pumping iron!

The simplest, most functional piece of equipment may surprise you. We were skeptical when it comes to the equality of resistance bands vs free weights, because we prefer free weights most. #Workout #ResistanceBands #ResistanceBandsExercises #ResistanceBandsWorkouts #FreeWeights

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  1. Love this Carla! Love seeing you here! At home stuff is important to so many!

    St the gym, I have my bands with me & sometimes use the band & hold lighter weights too for an added bonus! 😉

  2. Love the bands and MizFit! And what a great workout to do when you’re traveling. Perfect for the hotel room!

  3. am a resistance band user now for 2 months, cant say enough good about them. gym trained for 2 years with not much physical change, have surpassed that with resistance bands in just two months. exercise five times a week, feeling good at 52..

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