I often get asked, “What’s better, Weights or Resistance Bands?” With that in mind, I thought I’d give my two cents.  When you’re ready to start working out at home, and are trying to get ready, this question is often on the top of the list.  I’ve used most of the Beachbody programs from P90X, Chalean Extreme, Power 90, and others including Insanity (which requires no equipment).  I feel I have a pretty good grasp of what’s needed, what works, and what doesn’t.   Let’s start with the technical differences first, and then move into my personal opinion.

  • Free weights heavily rely on the effects of gravity to complete each exercise. So it is gravity that provides the resistance for the exercises.
  • Resistance bands allow for a greater freedom of movement within an exercise and as a result a person can mimic more natural movements which are more unlikely to cause strains.
  • Free weights can put undue strain on a person if they choose weights that are too heavy, and caution should be used to maintain good form throughout the workouts. Resistance bands on the other hand are unlikely to do this as they are not weighted.
  • Weights are obviously very heavy and need to be used in the appropriate places, such as in the home or at the gym, and can not be easily transported.
  • Resistance bands are lightweight and can be transported around with ease. With this in mind many people chose to take them with them when they travel so that they can continue to exercise when away from home.
  • When in use resistance bands create a constant source of tension which free weights do not. Instead the level of tension provided with free weights will vary throughout a movement and can change dramatically in the space of an inch or so.
  • Financially speaking, you can get resistance bands at a more affordable price, and if used correctly, you can still get a great workout.
  • If you track your progress, such as amount of weight used and your number of reps, then weights are best.  Sure you can write down what color band you used, but I often change the tension of my bands by “looping  the band” and standing on it.  It’s difficult to know exactly how much you changed the tension.  I know this may not matter to some, but for those that carefully track their progress, it matters.
  • Weights can take up a lot of space, unless you use something like PowerBlocks, where you “stack” the weight into one dumbbell, and then change the weight with a pin selection.  (Although you will have an initial investment, I have been using mine for 4 years, and they are still working the same as they did on day one!)

I personally believe that both resistance bands and weights can provide the same end result, which is a great workout.

With the primary difference being that resistance bands are portable, and will not place undue strain on your body.  Free weights, on the other hand, can provide a more intense workout when using larger weights which is ideal for those wanting to add muscle.

As a final thought, I enjoy both weights and resistance bands. I prefer weights, if I had to choose one. But resistance bands are my first choice when traveling or away from home. I also throw in resistance bands if I’m looking for a change of pace, or as a way to add to muscle confusion. In the end you will need to make your own decision, but I hope this gives you some information to make the best decision that works for you.

Also, most of the Beachbody programs, including P90X, Chalean Extreme, and Power 90, there is always someone on the DVD that is demonstrating both weights and bands, so you will always have proper instruction and visual demonstration.  If you have found this article helpful, please do me a favor and share it on your social networks.  Keep pushing play!

If your program of choice is P90X, I dedicated an entire article to the required and optional P90X Equipment needed.