Exercise equipment in the form of weights and bands are usually an essential part of an exercise program, especially ones designed to help build muscle mass. Although there are also programs that emphasizing the usage of the natural body weight, weights and bands can also play a supplemental role in the progression phase depending on fitness level and capability.
The main choices are fixed weights, adjustable weights and bands which also come in varying sizes and set-ups (single band or multiple “adjustable” bands). A band has a different feel than a weight as the tension grows the
you are in an exercise that stretches the cord. A weight is governed by the pull of gravity and the angle of your movement in context with the ground (eg, 90 degree angle should create maximum load in a curl exercise with a dumbell). With a band as noted above, the exercise would hit maximum load closer to the top of the sequence, although arm angle to band base point is also an important component in exertion output.
As a user of both types of devices, each has a pro and a con. Weights tend to promote greater strength development and have a better feel and can more readily accommodate certain exercises such as bench presses. The downside is that weights are heavy to move around and can become somewhat costly, and space consuming the more weights you need.
Bands typically work well with higher rep exercises and can more easily promote a maximum output as you can adjust difficulty while exercising by moving closer to the base. I tend not to get the same strength gains, but it is also difficult to find bands that max out a low rep count set. Unfortunately, some of the bands I have owned tend to lose resistance over time and I have had a couple break although the company appears to have redesigned the harness to eliminate that issue.
If you want to take your workout on the road, bands are a great tool that allow the flexibility to use them wherever you go. They are light weight and can easily be stowed away in a suitcase.
- Band “weight” measures can be inaccurate and change over time or not fully measure to the same poundage as traditional weights.
- Band weights if stretched excessively to get more resistance, there is a risk of the band breaking. It has happened to me on a few occasions.
- Bands can offer a greater range of exercises if you can use a door holder. That allows the band base to be at variable heights – the length of the door frame. Make sure your door is sturdy and has a solid frame. It might not be recommended with some frames.
- Free weights can be cumbersome to change the weight for each exercise. This can be mitigated by buying a multi-weight set with different dumbbells with individual weights or a quick change dumbbell similar to the Bowflex model.
- Free weights can be loud, so be sensitive to using the weights and placing them back on the floor, etc. if you exercise upstairs.
- If buying free weights online, be aware of potential shipping charges along with the product cost. It may be cheaper to buy at a local outlet.