Resistance Bands vs. Free Weights: Which is Best?

Which is Best?If you are starting to think about setting up a home gym or workout space where you live, then one of the biggest questions facing you will be what home weight training equipment to get.  If you had unlimited space and a large budget, then kitting out your spare room or garage with a full set of free weights and a cardio machine or two would be the preferred option. However, for most people that isn’t a realistic scenario. Some people have limited funds, don’t have endless space or might only want to acquire one or two pieces of fitness equipment. So if you want to get it right and buy the best gear for you then it is a good idea to compare some of the options available.  As with most things there are two sides to every story and when looking at resistance bands vs. free weights, this is very much the case.

Why Resistance Bands are Best

Cheap Resistance BandsIf you just want some home training gear to allow you to have a quick workout at home on the days when you can’t make it to the gym then opting for some resistance bands is the best idea.  As you won’t solely be relying on the bands to get in shape at home, they will be good enough to tide you over until your next gym visit. If you are travelling a lot, perhaps with work or on an a gap year, having a good set of resistance bands in your backpack can really help you keep in decent shape while away from home and the gym. As the bands are light and don’t take up much space they are ideal for someone on the road a lot. They don’t need either equipment like benches or hooks to function and can be used almost anywhere. The amount of exercises you can perform with them is bigger than you’d expect and you can train all the major muscles groups with them easily as well as most of the smaller ones too. Here are some reasons why resistance bands are better than free weights:

  • Cost a lot less
  • Take up less space
  • Can be used anywhere: at work, on holiday, while travelling

Why Free Weights are Best

As we covered earlier, in an ideal world you’d have a home gym equipped with a full set of free weights. But in reality this isn’t often possible.  However, that doesn’t mean you can’t train with free weights at home without taking over the house and burning through your savings. You don’t need a full set of weights and benches to get in shape at home and do a proper workout. You can make do with just some inexpensive adjustable dumbbells or even, if you have the room, a simple bench, a barbell and some plates. Kettlebells are also free weights and men and women can train with them to get a great physique and get out of the skinny fat rut. With just a set of kettlebells you can start training at home to overhaul your body by developing some lean muscle mass and shifting that stubborn fat. In fact, kettlebells are probably the most versatile type of free weights available to home trainers with limited space and budget. You can train all of your body with the right bells and get in a good leg workout with kettlebells at home.  If you chose to get a barbell and some weight plates for your home gym you can increase the longevity of the gear by buying more weights as you get stronger.  Let’s take a look at some of the positive reasons why free weights are better than resistance bands:

  • Can be loaded up with more weight as you get stronger.
  • Free weights will almost always give more resistance than a band.
  • Allow you to perform more exercises (depending on the type of free weights).

So as you can see comparing these two types of popular exercise equipment isn’t as straightforward as it might seem. It all comes down to your budget, how much space you have and whether you want a portable training option.

  • If you want to setup a home gym with lots of options for different types of training, free weights are best.
  • If you want to be able to train while away from home or with a very small amount of equipment, bands are best.
  • If you want to be able to continuously increase the heaviness of the weights, then free weights are best.
  • If you don’t want to spend much money, resistance bands are best.

There is no easy answer to the question of free weights vs. resistance bands but hopefully this article helped you see the pros and cons of each and make a decision as to which to buy.

Me personally, I like a small selection of free weights at home, but I also love being able to fit a small, inexpensive piece of equipment in my bag that allows me to train when working late in the office, on holiday or away from home.


Joe loves blogging about fitness, especially the best ways to get in an effective workout at home. Find out more at Google+

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