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Resistance Bands Versus Free Weights Is There a Difference?

Posted Mar 01 2011 8:27am

Image by tcoyd

We are living in constantly evolving times in the fitness industry and something caught my eye the other day on Facebook somebody was talking about a particular piece of workout equipment called gym in a bag.

So as you do I decided to check it out and see what it was about, basically it is a small bag consisting of resistance bands and a bar so you can do various workouts similar to those that you would do if you had some free weights.

So being the kind of person I am I decided to do some research on this particular way of training just to see how effective it is compared to using iron dumbbells.

I have actually got some resistance bands that I got with a stepper machine quite some years ago but never really utilised them properly so I was unable to see how well they worked.

How do they compare

So could there be a big difference between something that looks like a piece of flimsy rubber/elastic compared to something that is heavy and cumbersome and might be harder for people with injuries or whom may not be able to lift heavy weights.

They had both have similar benefits but the differences are with using free weights you’re using gravity as a form of resistance were as with the resistance band it’s just the resistance of the band, and that is it.

So you would naturally assume that by using your normal barbells that they would be the clear winner in this case and that by using resistance bands your just buying into more Internet fitness snake oil. Because let’s face it, there is a lot of that sort of thing about as we all know.

However, it would seem that studies have shown that resistance bands can work very similar to loading your muscles as do free weights. Apparently, they can be very good for reducing body fat and increasing muscle mass as we are about to see so read on.

From what I understand one of the reasons that resistance bands are so good at what they do is they produce more of a natural movement which is more natural to what would we would be doing in our everyday lives.

Let’s face it, we don’t always carry big weights around with us do we. About the close as we get to that is if we are doing some kind of physical labouring work which we may do on a building site.

If you want to swing your arms from side to side with some free weights that might be quite difficult for some people but with, resistance bands because you are not working against the effects of gravity it would be far easier to train with them compared to their counterparts.

Studies related to resistance bands

  • A study which came about in 1998 in the American Journal of Sports and Medicine found that tennis players that utilised elastic band training found that the players had a stronger serving arm, and their shoulders were much stronger.
  • Another one which was conducted in Louisiana State University found that baseball pitch players had stronger rotator cuff muscles when they used the bands in comparison to iron weights.
  • One study which was conducted in Truman State University, found that people who did bench press exercises using elastic resistance bands had a significantly greater increase in strength, compared to other participants who used iron free weights.
  • Research conducted at University of Wisconsin La Crosse , found that athletes that used resistance bands in order to increase their leg strength as well as free weight training. They had far more increase in strength with bands compared to the weights.

Benefits of resistance bands

  • For people who have limited space, they are ideal or for people who don’t have very much strength in order to lift weights.
  • They are very easy to store away and don’t take up much room.
  • You can do as many exercises as you would be able to do with weights if not more


This doesn’t necessarily mean that this type of workout method is the best by any means it is all a matter of personal preference. All I am trying to do here is open up other avenues of working out so people with limited space, etc. Have all the alternatives not everybody will want to be lifting heavy weights. Another reason for writing this post is I think it’s worthwhile trying other methods, even if they have been around for a while.

Doing exercise shouldn’t necessarily be a one size fits all type of mentality. And I was also thinking about getting some myself. Just to see how they are and their effectiveness. Do you use resistance bands yourself or are you a free weights person? It would be interesting to get other peoples opinions. On this sort of technology, please feel free to leave your opinion below.

Here are some videos of people using resistance bands showing how they work, etc.

Fast Tube

Fast Tube

Fast Tube

Post from: Weight Loss Blog (Lose That Tyre)

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