tale as old as time 
doesn't only apply to Beauty and the Beast.

Resistance bands vs traditional weights has a long history, but only in recent times have scientists begun to study and compare the two in a scientific and objective manner, and the results may very well surprise you.

Below is a brief summary of some of the evidence to date, and how the two compare, so you can make up your own mind about the debate. 


Movement is typically thought of in 3 directions, or planes, Transverse (Side to side), Sagittal (Left & Right), & Frontal (Front and Back).

Free weights are often used in the Sagittal plane, acting against gravity like in a bicep curl, or occasionally in the Frontal plane like in a lateral raise with a light free weight.

On the other hand, resistance bands can easily be used in all three planes of movement. 


The resistance from a dumbbell is the same at the beginning of the exercise as it is as the end, but comparatively, the resistance from a resistance bands starts low and then increases as the band elongates.

Why is this important? 
The graph on the left represents the force in your muscle as it lengthens, graph on the right represents force in a resistance band as it lengthens. Notice how both start low when the length is short, and gradually get higher as the length increases? Variable resistance.

Variable resistance of the bands matches the strength of your muscles throughout the exercise, which significantly reduces the likelihood of injury. 


If you've done any research into traditional weights or even gym memberships, you'll quickly find that the costs start to add up pretty quickly.

Weights are made from more expensive materials and are heavy to ship, causing the prices to skyrocket. Not to mention need a variety of different pieces of equipment to perform different exercises.

Gyms often require long membership contracts and end up costing a lot, especially if you have a few weeks off. The graph shows the average annual gym memberships across the USA, with the cheapest around $400 a year.

Resistance bands are generally affordable, made from durable but easily available materials and inexpensive to ship. They provide a cost-effective solution as you can perform many different exercises instead of having a machine for each exercise. 

BenefitResistance BandsFree-Weight Resistance
Provides progressive resistancexx
Allows variable speed of movementxx
Increases muscle strengthxx
Increases muscle sizexx
Decreases body fatxx
Provides resistance in multiple directionsx
Provides variable resistancex
Provides constant tensionx
Prevents cheatingx
Easy to storex
Easy to transportx