Published by Bart van der Velden on 09-13-2023
Regardless of whether you use resistance bands or weights, resistance training is extremely beneficial to your physical health. It is one of the most effective ways to keep your muscles, bones and joints strong and healthy. The Dutch Ministry of Health recommends doing muscle-strengthening activities at least two days a week, including "lifting weights, working with resistance bands and calisthenics exercises that use body weight as resistance (such as push-ups, pull-ups and planks)".
Although exercises like push-ups, pull-ups and planks seem simple, they can be some of the most difficult to perform correctly. But if you want to increase the intensity of your workouts and are wondering whether you should use the best resistance bands or weights to strengthen your muscles, you're in the right place. Below we look at the differences between resistance bands and weight training to help you decide what's best for you.
Resistance Bands vs. Weights: Muscle Building
Building strength is important for strong and healthy muscles, bones and joints. Resistance training, both with weights and resistance bands, puts your body under greater force when you exercise, which makes your muscles work harder than using just your body weight.
With weight training, you can add a precise amount of weight to each session by increasing the weight of your kettlebell, barbell, or adjustable dumbbells. One of the advantages of lifting weights over resistance bands is that it's easier to increase this load slowly, to ensure you don't overload your muscles and go too fast.
That said, resistance bands can also provide gradual loads to the body. With bands, how 'heavy' it feels changes as you stretch it, just like an elastic band. There are also many different resistance levels available, from light to extra-heavy. Both weights and resistance bands can make you stronger, although weights allow for more discrete increases and offer much, much higher total resistance.
Resistance Bands vs. Weights: Cost
Weights are shown in kilograms (kg). The more weight, the more it costs. New, high-quality, iron weight plates cost between $1.50 and $2/kg - that's about $100 for one pair of 25 kg dumbbells.
Meanwhile, a well-made, resilient barbell costs approx €200 (for less there could potentially be doubts about the quality). Adjustable dumbbells cost between €2.5 and €5 per kg, that is € 200 for one pair of 20 kg dumbbells. Kettlebells cost €3 to €5 per kg, say 50 Euro for one 12 kettlebell.
As you've probably noticed if you've shopped around for a set of free weights, they're not cheap, and you'll need space to store them.
Resistance bands are much more affordable. A selection of four bands with resistances ranging from 7.5kg to 30kg costs less than € 50. That's less than a single pair of 10kg dumbbells, and you get many more weight options. That said, resistance bands have a much lower weight limit, with even the heaviest bands stopping at around 100kg.
In terms of cost, resistance bands offer much better value for money within a certain budget and below a certain threshold of resistance.
Resistance Bands vs. Weights: Portability
Resistance bands are much more portable than weights to take to and from the gym. A resistance band that provides 15 kg of resistance weighs less than 600 grams and can be folded and carried in a bag.
Due to their light weight, shipping costs are virtually nil when purchasing resistance bands, while with weights you can expect shipping costs to be about 10% of the price of the equipment itself.
One of the most important aspects of a resistance training program is consistency, and many people find that vacations, long office hours, or major life events like moves throw them completely out of their routine. A great feature of resistance bands is that you can take them anywhere.
It's also worth mentioning that if you're weight training at home, make sure the floor can withstand any dropped weights, whether intentional or accidental. Resistance bands have no such problems.
Should you buy resistance bands or weights?
If you want to be as strong as possible and have the budget and time to join a fully equipped gym (or build your own home gym), then weights are certainly the most effective option and provide the best workout. However, if you're working with a tighter budget, resistance bands will provide much better value for money up to a certain resistance level. If you want equipment that you can take to a park, hotel, or office, resistance bands are the way to go.
If you're just starting out with resistance training and aren't sure if it's something you'll be able to do regularly, there's no point in investing heavily in weights, so start with some cheap resistance bands.
Ultimately, whether you should purchase resistance bands or weights will depend on your goal, your budget, your environment, and your current level of strength and fitness. For most people, starting with resistance bands is an excellent idea.
Here are the best resistance bands to buy now, as well as the best resistance band workouts for leg day, and how to squat and deadlift with a resistance band.
FFEXS Fitness Bands 5-Set
FFEXS Fitness Bands 3-Set
FFEXS Fitness Bands Loose Bands
Including Mini Bands
Note: This blog post is for informational purposes only and should not be considered medical advice. Always consult a healthcare professional before starting a new exercise program or making any changes to your diet, especially if you have health conditions or are taking medications.