If you want to do strength building exercises, you automatically think of free weights, but there is a less expensive alternative that you should consider, resistance bands. Free weights use gravity as the force that builds muscles, while resistance bands use resistance, as the name implies. To get the benefit of free weights, you have to position yourself properly to get results, since gravity is always pulling down. The resistance bands use the elastic tension that is created by stretching, so you can use any angle, making them useful in any direction and on both the horizontal and vertical plane.
Resistance Bands are a variety of colors that represent different levels of resistance.
Some are like large rubber bands, only a lot stronger and you can use them alone or attached to something. Some have handles and are straight bands. Besides being more versatile when it comes to position and various planes of exercise, bands are easy to store and to transport. They cost far less than free weights, but can be used for almost every exercise where you use free weights. However, bands have some limitations. There’s only so much resistance they can provide and if building maximum strength is your goal, you’ll need to move on to free weights.
Free weights include dumbbells, barbells, sandbags and weighted medicine balls.
Any weight that isn’t attached to a machine and used to build muscle is a free weight. They’re big, bulky and heavy. The free weights are classified by weight, making it easy to measure. You have no limitations, since you can add more weight or get a heavier dumbbell. If you live in a modest sized house, having a full range of free weights could take up a lot of your storage area and actually become quite costly. They’re sold by the pound, so heavier ones are extremely expensive. Don’t even think about transporting a full plethora of free weights on vacation with you, unless you’re traveling by RV.
Building muscle can be aided with both resistance bands and free weights.
While resistance bands definitely build muscle just as free weights do, free weights can do it quicker. They’re still considered the gold standard for muscle building, even though a third contender, kettlebells, are preferred by some. Part of the reason is that the workout with resistance bands only occurs when the band is stretched to its maximum, while you get the resistance the entire time you are lifting metal. The real solution is to use both—or all three, if you include kettlebells. Variety decreases the potential for boredom and can improve your progress.
- If you’re allergic to latex, bands come in non-latex versions. Make sure to inspect your bands before you start a workout to make sure there are no nicks or wear and tear. If you find any, toss the band.
- To be your safest when using some forms of free weights, you need a spotter. You don’t have the same problem using resistance bands.
- If you want to build muscle and use resistance bands, do more sets and reps. Make sure you have plenty of rest between sessions and all the nutrition you need to build muscle.
- Resistance bands are good for more than just strength building. They’re useful for flexibility training and stretching. You can improve joint health, rehab muscles and nurture flexibility.
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