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Weights vs Resistance Bands: Which is Better for Building Muscle?

weights vs resistance bands for building muscle

Fitness enthusiasts often hear about strength training’s benefits, but choosing the right resistance equipment can be difficult. Many people wonder whether resistance bands or weights will be more effective and the best way to use them. Resistance bands and weights are compared for the development and maintenance of muscle mass and strength. 

Often, people assume that lifting weights is the only way to build muscle, but resistance bands can also be an effective training tool. Any type of resistance training is highly beneficial for your physical health, whether you use resistance bands or weights.

Although, if you came into this article with a specific opinion about one over the other, then you may be off target. There are, however, particular times and uses for each! Here’s how resistance bands compare to free weights and how each can be better suited to your needs.

Weights vs Resistance Bands: Which is Better for Building Muscle?

Weights vs. Resistance Bands: Which is Better for Building Muscle?

What are Resistance Bands?

training with resistance bands for building muscle

Resistance bands are elastic rubber bands that add resistance to exercises by stretching and pulling them. Usually, they come in bundles with different strengths of bands. Generally, a thicker band will provide more excellent resistance. With resistance bands, you can get a varied workout by attaching them to anchor points such as doors or trees. Furthermore, they’re helpful for building muscle.

What are Free Weights?

free weights for building muscle

The term “free weights” refers to an exercise that provides resistance by using ‘free’ objects that can be picked up and moved without being attached to anything. There are many types of exercise equipment to choose from, including medicine balls, barbells, dumbbells, kettlebells, etc.

When it comes to building muscle and strengthening at home, dumbbells and kettlebells are versatile options. The weight can be fixed, or you can choose an adjustable variety that lets you choose between several weights. With weights, you can isolate muscles like the biceps, build strength with bodyweight exercises like squats, and improve your metabolism with high-intensity exercises.

How do Resistance Bands help you build muscle?

Building muscle with resistance bands is possible. Feeling like you don’t work your muscles hard enough? Increasing the band’s resistance will solve the problem. As a result of the increased resistance, your muscles will have to work harder to reach their full range of motion. By gradually increasing resistance, resistance bands strengthen your entire body. 

As your bands are progressively tightened, the resistance will increase. Keeping the same resistance level forever will result in your muscles adapting and your gains diminishing. Most resistance bands come with various levels of resistance, so you can choose the one that’s right for you.

You can use resistance bands during warm-ups for heavy lifters or those who don’t enjoy resistance band exercises. As a result, your muscles will be stretched and heated up. When using resistance bands, muscles are constantly tense. 

When you start, your muscles are under light tension. As you progress, your muscles are at their maximum tension capacity. It’s different from weight lifting, where you lift for a few reps and then release it completely. As a result, with resistance bands, your muscles work for a longer period than with regular weights or machines.

Resistance bands in exercises require a great deal of muscle control and muscle strength. The resistance bands need you to use your core strength extra hard, unlike exercise machines that stabilize you. At first, you might experience some shaking if you’re not used to channeling those stabilizing muscles. The condition will, however, become normal with regular training.

How do Weights Help Build Muscle Better?

Gyms are filled with free weights, like dumbbells, barbells, and kettlebells, that are the stars of the show. They are a simple tool for building major muscle mass in the big muscle group of your body. Similar to resistance bands, free weight exercises usually require stabilizing muscles. In particular, when you use free weights standing, you need to keep your core strong to maintain good form and balance.

Free weight training is an essential component of weight training. This is one of the easiest ways to achieve progressive overloads. You can build muscle by gradually increasing the difficulty of your lifts. Free weights will plateau unless you regularly increase their weight, also known as progressive overload. When you gradually increase the weight of free weights, your muscles will be worked harder. Consequently, you will continue to see muscle growth and progress related to gains. Free weights are the best option to get bigger if your goal is to get bigger.

Training with free weights is also a great way to improve your functional fitness. A deadlift, for example, will make it easier for you to lift heavy objects outside the gym without injuring yourself (assuming you have good form).

Why Resistance Bands Are Better Than Weights


Resistance bands are the lightest, most portable, and easiest to store a piece of strength training equipment besides your bodyweight. Resistance bands are much more convenient to store and carry than weights, especially if you need to travel with your workout equipment.


The price tag for a set of weights can run into several hundred dollars, while even adjustable dumbbells will cost you between $100 and $200, if not more. You can, however, get a complete set of resistance bands and handles for less than $50.

Time-Efficient Workouts

When you strength-train with three or four bands, how long does it take you to set them up? Compared to traveling to the gym or hauling out all those dumbbells, kettlebells, or other free-weight tools, the answer is a whole lot less. When used properly and disciplined, bands can produce results superior to free weights without the negative side effects.

Why Weights Are Better Than Resistance Bands

Easy to Workout

Weights deliver a more consistent resistance based on weight rather than a colored band that can deliver different levels of resistance depending on the degree of stretch. As a result, you will be able to measure your progress and have an idea of how your workout is going.

Weights Last Longer

Unlike resistance bands, dumbbells should last for years, as they are unlikely to snap and will wear out.

Some exercises require weights.

Using resistance bands can be difficult for some exercises. For example, configuring a resistance band to load a lunge or step-up can be challenging.

Effective Muscle Building

If you want to gain muscle mass, you must lift heavy weights. If your goal is hypertrophy, dumbbells are a better training tool than bands if you want to load your muscles with high resistance. With weights, muscle building is more effective.

Cons of Resistance Bands

Different resistance levels are available with resistance bands. Stretching some is super easy while stretching others is noticeably more challenging. Although resistance bands can be measured to a great extent, determining the level of resistance is difficult. 

Resistance is harder to determine than weights since you can’t just pick up a heavier one. As a result, it is difficult to measure your progress continuously with bands.

Resistance bands can help you make gains, but they’re not the most effective. Resistance bands only come in a limited number of levels. Once you reach a certain point, the resistance in the bands will no longer be enough to challenge you. Due to this, you’ll plateau and need to switch to another strength-building exercise.

Additionally, resistance bands are susceptible to accidental breaks. When you apply more force against it, it is more likely to break. For this reason, you should always be cautious when using one so as not to stretch it too far.

Cons of Weights for Building Muscle

Using free weights is an effective way to work each of your body’s various muscles. Like resistance bands, they’re excellent for building muscle, but they also have some drawbacks. With free weights, you’re more likely to fall out of form and injure yourself due to the lack of stabilizing assistance. Hence, form is vital to preventing injuries. It might be necessary to reduce your lifting weight if your form is failing.

Some free weight exercises require a spotter, such as a friend or personal trainer, in contrast to other workouts you can do on your own. Spotters are especially important for heavy lifters.

Weights vs Resistance Bands or Building Muscle: Conclusion

If you’re trying to figure out whether resistance bands or free weights are better, there is no simple answer. There are pros and cons to both resistance bands and free weights. You should consider your specific goals when choosing between resistance bands vs. weights. 

Resistance bands are perfect for exercise for beginners and those recovering from injuries. In contrast, weights typically cost more and are hard to store (unless you pick an adjustable version). 

Nevertheless, they’re more versatile when building muscle since they can be used for isolation moves, compound exercises, or high-intensity exercises. Whatever you decide, it’ll produce results. Free weights and resistance bands are great tools for building muscle and strengthening the body.

Mike Horton (head of Weighted Living)

by Mike Horton

Mike is one of the lead editors at Weighted Living and the author of this article. He's become fascinated with weighted products (a bit too much we think) and loves to see all the different ways they can improve our loves. He's written quite a few weighted product guides as well.

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