Free weights such as dumbbells and barbells and resistance bands are both meant for strength training yet they both work differently. Let’s see how they are different from each other.
Resisting Gravity versus Moving Freely
Gravity provides the resistance for free weights. Thereby you build muscles by fighting the force of gravity. The only problem with this method is that, it builds momentum. If you cease lifting a weight, it will fall. Momentum can also pose problems, especially if you have no experience in lifting weights. If you do not do it properly or if you lose control you could risk injury as form can be lost. Movement is also restricted with free weights.
With resistance bands on the other hand you do not fight gravity. Instead, you are fighting the tension within the bands, at the same enabling you to move in any direction as you please. The ability to move freely allows you recreate many natural movements and brings variety to your exercise routine.
Improving Form – Form which is the motion, in which you perform an exercise, is vital when strength training. Correct form increases the effectiveness of every movement and greatly decreases the risk of injuries. If you have ever noticed those people in the gym floundering about recklessly, it’s safe to bet they have no idea about form.
With free weights, it is much easier for you to use other muscles while exercising one particular group of muscles, for assistance. For example, while doing the shoulder press. A shoulder press is an exercise where you grip a dumbbell in each hand with your arms out, and then lift them above your head. If you do this while standing you will feel it is tough. But if you bend your legs while moving the hands down and while moving it up, then it defeats the whole point of working out your shoulders.
On the other hand resistance bands isolates the muscles that you are working on, thereby, allowing you to concentrate on and develop your form. Apart from that you don’t have to worry about dropping the weight on your head.
Versatility – Resistance bands provides versatility in the sense that you can do any movement with the use of bands. Many athletes use resistance bands to improve movements that their sport requires. While with free weights your movements are restricted.
Portability – Resistance bands are very compact and lightweight and do not take too much space at all. You can easily stash it away in any corner of the house. Because of these features it is highly portable and you can easily carry them in a travel bag. You can continue to work out while on a holiday easily. While dumbbells are heavy and not compact and hence you cannot carry them with you while travelling. Many people complain about not being able to work out when away from home.
These are some of the differences of resistance bands and free weights.