They are used commonly in both fitness and rehabilitation facilities around the world. Both elastic resistance and free-weight resistance have several similar properties:
- provide resistance
- allow a free range of motion
- allow variable speed of movement
All of these properties are critical for the benefits offered by effective resistance-training programs.
Some studies have shown that muscle activity and peak load during elastic-resistance exercise is similar to free-weight resistance exercise. This means that when comparing the same exercise performed with an elastic resistance device or with free weights, the amount of muscle fibers activated is similar and the amount of force provided by the muscle fibers is similar. That means both weights and bands can build muscle.
Elastic resistance can be suggested as an affordable and non-gym based exercise device which has the capacity to provide an appropriate high resistance stimulus to meet the training requirement . They are growing in popularity fast because of the advantages bands offer since they can be used virtually anywhere from the gym to the house, to the hotel room and even the park.
Our muscles don’t really care if they have to generate a force against a free weight or a resistance band. Force generate is force generated for our muscles. However, the way the resistance is transferred to our muscles differs for a free weight and a resistance band.
- With free weight the direction of the resistance is always downwards, while with resistance band the direction of resistance is always opposite to the direction in which it is stretched. This difference allows more flexibility in using the resistance band as you can use them to create resistance in any direction. This increases the potenctial for use in more functional movement patterns that mimic both everyday activities.
- The resistance for free weights remains the same through out the range of motion, while for the resistance band it increases as you stretch it more. This has a significant effect on the amount of work our muscles do in overcoming the resistance.
- The resistance of the free weights can be increased as much as you like, by just increasing the weight. This is not that straight forward for resistance bands. There is always an upper limit on how much resistance you can increase with resistance bands, going beyond that will just break the band.
- Resistance bands are not as durable as weights and can stretch out or rip over time or tear on sharp or uneven surfaces. Always inspect your bands for tears before use and always make sure your anchor is secure so the band does not whip back and slap you.
Now that we understand the difference between free weights and resistance bands, which one is better? As with all the other things, the answer to it depends on your situation.
Resistance bands have recently come into a lot of popularity and it appears that more and more people are incorporating them in their workouts. Although they cannot replace free weights when it comes to serious strength training, resistance bands can definitely act as a great alternative for free weight for someone who is just starting out and does not have a lot of money to invest in free weights.
Resistance bands work your muscles in a very different way than free weights do. They are better for keeping tension on the muscles throughout their entire range of motion, as well as for accommodating natural strength arcs. The ability to work in just about any direction is more conducive to realistic, daily movements. Increased safety, engagement of the deep stabilizers and convenience are additional positive points that might make you want to add them to your routine.
What’s your take on Elastic bands x Free weights? Let us know about your results with them!