The fitness and wellness world evolves with the introduction of new fitness trends. Recent trends include barre exercise, TRX suspension training, and resistance bands. Fitness enthusiasts swear by these versatile, elastic bands. Others are a little hesitant to drop their dumbbells. This leaves the question, “which is better?” Here’s a look at what each of these muscle-building tools offer.
Resistance Bands: Gravity Defying Fitness
Resistance bands are not as new as we think. These handy, rubber bands have been used in rehabilitation centers for decades. However, they are only recently gaining popularity as fitness tools. Colorful and stretchy, bands such as Black Mountain and Stroops, come in many styles. They are attached to handles and other ergonomic features which allow for versatility and ease-of-use. What makes them popular?
- Free Motion: Resistance bands defy gravity in allowing the body to expand its range of motion.
- Flexible Workouts: With the ability to be stretched from different angles, bands allow lateral and horizontal movement. This goes against natural forces and utilizes hard-to-target muscles.
- Varying Resistance: As the range of motion increases, bands stretch to create the resistance needed to build muscle. The longer the band is stretched, the more resistance provided.
- Joint Protection: Free of weight, resistance bands don’t add any pressure at all keeping bones, ligaments, and tendons safe.
- Economic: Resistance bands are cheaper than other fitness equipment. You can purchase alone or as a set.
- Storage and Travel Friendly: Take your resistance bands with you anywhere. They’re easy to store and throw in a bag.
- No Gym Membership Required: You can take your resistance bands anywhere. Wherever you are, becomes your gym.
- Hard to Monitor Success: Many resistance band users report improvements in muscle strength and tone. However, there is no actual mean to quantify gains.
- Limit on Muscle Growth: Increasing stretch allows for increasing resistance. But all resistance bands have a limit which when reached, will begin to have diminishing effects on muscle development.
- Wear and Tear: Especially when used incorrectly, resistance bands can be damaged and torn.
Free Weights: Lift With Gravity
Free weights come in many forms. This includes dumbbells, barbells, kettlebells, medicine balls, and more. They derive the name “free” from its lack of attachment to any other device. Over time, these fitness tools and accessories have proven to increase muscle growth and development. Free weights also improve bone density and aid in fat loss. The most effective free weight exercises involve a vertical range of motion, working hand in hand with gravity to create resistance in muscle building. What has made free weights stand the test of time?
- Versatile Workouts: Free weights can be used to target many major muscles in a variety of different exercises. This can optimize muscle gain.
- Increasing Resistance Options: As muscles develop, free weights with increasing weights can be used to elevate resistance. This also allows users to track success and muscle growth.
- Portable: Unattached to other devices, free weights can be taken anywhere.
- Durable: Free weights are made with durable products which guarantee longevity.
- No Gym Membership Required: Take free weights anywhere and turn any environment into your own personal gym.
- Limited Motion: Free weights are most effective when used in vertical motions. This limits exercise and motion options.
- Associated Risks: As weights increase, mounting pressure is placed on the body’s joints which can create health risks. Additionally, free weight users often require a “spotter” to prevent injury.
- Takes Up Space: Free weights can be difficult to store and can take up a lot of space.
- Hard to Transport: While being portable, depending on the weight, free weights are hard to carry around.
- Costly: While prices vary, one thing is certain: free weights have to be replaced as muscles develop. This makes them a recurring cost.
Which is better?
Ultimately, whether you choose to use resistance bands or stick to free weights, both offer advantages to help you maximize your muscle development and growth. Remember: there’s always the option of using both. Resistance bands and free weights can be great compliments for each other, catapulting you closer to reaching your fitness goals.