As a beginner, it can be hard to know how to decide what exactly is the most effective way to train. And if you’re on this post, then you’re probably wondering- are resistance bands better than bodyweight exercises? Or vice versa? That’s exactly what this post will try to help you decide for yourself.
Resistance band workouts are usually better than bodyweight exercises. The external resistance from bands can make bodyweight movements more difficult and more effective at building muscle or burning fat. However, it is important to use a challenging resistance band weight.
Having used resistance bands for over 5 years now, I can vouch for their effectiveness.
But this doesn’t mean bodyweight training is ineffective.
It’s actually a cost-effective and convenient way for beginners to start working out.
So really it’s down to you to decide which is the better option for you!
Hopefully, my post can help you make that decision!
- Are Resistance Bands The Same As Bodyweight Exercises?
- Resistance Bands Vs Bodyweight Workout Differences
- Why Resistance Bands Can Be Better And More Effective Than Bodyweight Training
- Squat Example Shows Why Bands Are Better Than Bodyweight
- Can You Build Muscle With Bands And Bodyweight Workouts?
- 8 Banded Bodyweight Exercises To Try At Home
Are Resistance Bands The Same As Bodyweight Exercises?
Resistance bands are not the same as bodyweight exercises. Unlike bodyweight movements, banded exercises apply external resistance to the movement to make them more challenging. Therefore band workouts are generally more effective.
You can see below an example of a resistance band exercise and the bodyweight equivalent.
The first exercise is a chest press with bands. The second exercise is a push-up.
Whilst both exercises will work similar muscles, the former is more challenging (assuming you apply enough resistance bands).
However, bands also require an upfront cost (unlike bodyweight training which is free).
Next, I’ll further explore the similarities and differences between resistance bands and bodyweight exercises and which is better.
Resistance Bands Vs Bodyweight Workout Differences
Understanding the similarities and differences between resistance band vs bodyweight training is key to deciding for yourself which one is better.
First, let’s explore the similarities between resistance bands and bodyweight exercises. Both types of workout:
- Are forms of resistance training.
- Can target all muscles in the body (including arms, chest, shoulders, back, abs, and legs).
- Effective for building muscle, losing fat, and toning the body.
- Mainly involve performing pushing and pulling exercises.
- Are convenient to do at home.
- Affordable to get started.
- Ideal for beginners.
Now, let’s explore the main differences between resistance bands and bodyweight exercises:
|Resistance Band Training||Bodyweight Training|
|Linear variable resistance (LVR)||Constant resistance (CR)|
|Requires upfront cost||No cost involved to get started|
|Easier to perform angled exercises||Harder to do angled exercises|
|Allows horizontal pushing and pulling||Does not allow horizontal pushing and pulling|
|Simple to progressive overload||Difficult to progressive overload|
|Suitable for compound and isolation movements||Mainly for compound movements|
Next, I’ll explain why I think that resistance bands are generally better than bodyweight workouts.
If you’re brand new to band training and don’t want to waste time on overly long workouts, you can check out my other post to find out how long a resistance band workout should be.
Why Resistance Bands Can Be Better And More Effective Than Bodyweight Training
- Linear variable resistance (LVR) is more challenging. This describes how bands increase resistance as they stretch during an exercise. In comparison, bodyweight exercises provide constant resistance (CR). This describes how resistance remains the same throughout an exercise since your body weight doesn’t change. A 2008 study concluded that LVR led to greater muscular strength and power development compared to CR.
- Easier to perform angled exercises. Bands can be attached to high and low mounting points using a door anchor. This unlocks new angles to isolate different regions of the same muscle. For example, the incline band press can target the upper chest much better than the flat band press. Angled bodyweight exercises can be done. But it’s generally much harder to do because you are limited by gravity acting on your body.
- Allows for horizontal pushing and pulling. Bands can be anchored around the body or a door mount to perform horizontal movements. In contrast, bodyweight exercises are limited to vertical movements only. Horizontal movements unlock a variety of exercises that effectively target the chest and back. Therefore bands are great if you’re looking to build your upper body.
- Simpler to progressive overload. Overload refers to increasing exercise intensity over time to keep your muscles challenged for growth. Adding weight is a popular way to overload. It’s much easier to add weight with resistance bands (just use a heavier band color) compared to bodyweight training which requires unconventional overload methods. Therefore it’s generally easier to build muscle using resistance bands.
- Suitable for compound and isolation movements. Compound exercises like the row work multiple muscles in one movement (good for overall muscle-building). Isolation exercises like the bicep curl work single muscles (great for defining muscles). Unlike bodyweight training, bands are equally effective for both types of movement.
New to band workouts? Make sure you don’t overtrain! You may want to check out my other post to find out how many times a week you should use resistance bands!
Squat Example Shows Why Bands Are Better Than Bodyweight
Let’s use the squat at as an example of how resistance bands can be better than bodyweight training.
Below, you’ll see a resistance band squat vs a bodyweight squat.
You can see that compared to the bodyweight squat, the banded squat gets harder toward the top as the band stretches.
This is LVR in action; it gives you a harder and more effective workout than CR alone.
Additionally, a resistance band squat is easier to add more weight.
Simply attach more bands.
This will work your quadriceps, hamstrings, glutes, calves, and core to a greater degree compared to body weight alone.
Thus, banded squats will burn more calories and build more muscle.
The squat- being a compound movement- is great for overall leg development and calorie-burning.
However, some people may want to isolate specific leg muscles like the quads or glutes.
You can see in the banded leg extension shown above, that this is relatively simple to do with bands.
Although the same movement can also be done using bodyweight, it’s nowhere near as effective.
Try it yourself.
If you try to replicate the above movement, you’ll find it’s not very challenging at all right?
Using resistance bands simply gives you a better variety of resistance angles to work with.
Therefore you can generally perform more exercises more effective with resistance bands, compared to bodyweight alone.
If you’re considering getting bands, you can check out my other post to find out if resistance bands are worth the money!
Can You Build Muscle With Bands And Bodyweight Workouts?
Resistance bands and bodyweight workouts can both build muscle. They are two of the most popular ways for beginners to perform strength training. However, resistance bands are generally better for building muscle because they allow more weight to be lifted.
If you strip the muscle-building process down to its bare fundamentals; it requires you to eat enough calories and protein, and present your muscles with a challenging stimulus (i.e. lift heavy things!).
That stimulus could be lifting your own body weight. It could also come from lifting resistance bands.
Your muscle cannot differentiate between the two.
It only sees the tension you apply to it.
With that being said, the more challenging the stimulus the easier it will be to build muscle.
Therefore bands are generally the better option.
And yes, bands do work!
In support of this, 100% of responses from this Reddit post agreed that resistance bands can build muscle.
As a beginner, it doesn’t hurt to try bodyweight training first.
And when you’re ready to increase the intensity, you can invest in a pair of resistance bands and include them in your bodyweight workouts!
Are you looking to improve your physique? You can check out my other article to learn how to get ripped using bands!
8 Banded Bodyweight Exercises To Try At Home
Why not combine the best of both worlds?
Here are 8 highly-effective bodyweight exercises that become even better when you add resistance bands to the movement.
- Resistance band lunge. Awesome exercise for working the legs with an emphasis on the hamstrings and glutes (butt!).
- Front squat with bands. All-round lower body movement that’s good for working the legs and butt.
- Push-up with bands. Great way to intensify the push-up to build a ripped chest and arms.
- Banded pike push-up. Easier version of the push-up with emphasis on the upper chest.
- Band-assisted push-ups. Beginners can practice push-ups with assistance coming from the band that sits below their chest and pushes their body back up!
- Band-assisted pull-ups. Beginners can practice pull-ups with assistance from the band! This is one of the most effective back exercises out there. But you’ll need a pull-up bar.
- Banded sit-up. An excellent way to intensify your sit-ups to reveal those 6-pack abs!
- Glute-bridge with bands. Tone your glutes and hamstrings with this isometric exercise!
I’ve explained why I think bands are generally better than bodyweight training alone.
Although an upfront cost is required for bands, they can provide you with a more challenging workout.
When they are used properly resistance bands are a great way to build muscle, lose fat, and get ripped.
All in the comfort of your own home!
How do you rate resistance bands vs bodyweight exercises?
Feel free to send me a message if you have any questions! You can find my details on the “contact us” page.
You may also be interested in the downloadable Kalibre Blueprint PDF which details exactly how I gained 40lbs of lean muscle (it’s 100% free!). It details the exact exercises and nutrition (with printable worksheets) I used to go from skinny to ripped!
Thanks for reading guys!
(Biochemistry BSc, Biomedical Sciences MSc, Ex-Skinny Guy)