If you’re trying to decide whether or not to start using resistance bands, it can help to know the pros and cons of using them. That’s what I’ll share in this post!
Resistance band pros include; cost-effectiveness, convenience, and the ability to work the entire body. The cons of using bands include; difficulty in loading with heavy weight, inaccurate progression tracking, and durability issues.
I’ve been using bands for over 5 years now.
Keep reading to find out what I like and don’t like about them!
Disclaimer: these are just my opinions based on personal experience!
Pros and Cons Of Resistance Bands
For the people who want their info quick, here’s a summary of the pros and cons of using resistance bands:
|Resistance Band Pros||Resistance Band Cons|
|Work the whole body.||Difficult to load heavy.|
|Achieve all training goals.||Hard to track progress.|
|Joint-friendly training.||Motivation can be hard.|
|Can be as effective as weights.||Dangerous when used improperly.|
|Extremely convenient.||Bands can snap and break easily.|
|Great for defining specific muscles.|
|All band exercises train the core.|
|Maximize strength gains with weights and bands.|
|Lots of different angles to target muscles.|
|Can help improve squat performance.|
|Develop mind-muscle contractions.|
In my opinion, resistance bands are a great way to work out overall (especially for beginners).
Indeed, the pros of using exercise bands outweigh the cons.
However, bands DO have a unique array of cons.
Next, I’ll dive deeper into the details of the pros (advantages) and cons (disadvantages) of resistance band training.
Resistance Band Advantages
Before we get into the cons, here are the 12 pros of using resistance bands.
If you want an even more detailed list, you can also check out my other article on the benefits of using resistance bands!
1) Bands can work the whole body.
Resistance bands may have a simple design. But you shouldn’t overlook their functionality.
They can be used to train all the muscles in your body.
The 5 big compound lifts– squats, deadlifts, chest press, shoulder press, and row- alone will train all the muscles in your body.
And the smaller isolation lifts like the bicep curl and glute bridge can then target specific muscles.
2) All training goals can be achieved using bands.
Not only can bands be used to replicate most- if not all free weight exercises, but they can also be used for a variety of training goals.
Resistance bands can be used to:
You can follow the links to my other articles which explain why resistance bands are so effective for each goal!
3) Exercise bands are joint-friendly.
Resistance bands only produce resistance as they stretch. And they weigh very little in the unstretched state.
This means they generate less mechanical compression on your joints compared to free weights.
Consequently, bands are great for the elderly, post-injury rehab training, and people with bad joints!
4) Bands can be as good as weights for building muscle.
Numerous studies have indicated that bands can be just effective as weights.
Bands have a property called linear variable resistance.
This means tension increases as the band stretches longer.
And this unique behavior of resistance bands makes them a great way to build strength and power in the upper range of a movement (e.g. at the top of a banded push-up)!
5) They’re extremely convenient.
Use them at home, down the beach, or at the park.
Portability and ease of storage are one of the biggest pros of using resistance bands.
They can be taken anywhere and easily stored after a workout.
6) They’re the most cost-effective way to train.
A good set of resistance bands like the Undersun band set (link for the cheapest price) can be found for under 100 bucks.
In comparison, weights can easily cost north of $300 at a MINIMUM.
You simply can’t beat the affordability of resistance bands.
7) Resistance bands are great for defining muscles.
Isolation exercises are one of the best ways to tone and define specific muscles.
Examples of these types of movements include:
- Arm curls (biceps).
- Arm extensions (triceps).
- Lateral raises (deltoids).
- Forward flyes (pecs).
- Reverse flyes (back).
- Crunches (abs).
Resistance bands are a great way to do these exercises!
8) All band movements simultaneously work the core.
Looking to chisel those 6-pack abs?
Most resistance band movements will hit the core (ab muscles) whilst working the primary target muscle at the same time.
For example, a banded squat will train the legs as well as the abs.
That’s because a lot of core strength is required to keep your body tight and balanced during band movements (which are inherently unstable).
Classic two birds one stone situation!
9) Maximize strength gains by combining weights with bands.
I mentioned before that bands can be as effective as weights for building muscle.
Well, studies have also shown that combining weights WITH bands leads to even greater strength gains.
How does this work?
Try anchoring one end of a band to the floor and looping the other end around your barbell in a bench press (for example).
You can boost your strength development like this, compared to using a barbell alone.
10) Lots of different angles can be achieved using bands.
One of the biggest pros of using bands in the direction of resistance they provide.
Bands can give you horizontal resistance as well as vertical resistance.
In comparison, weights only provide vertical resistance since they work with gravity.
Horizontal resistance unlocks a wealth of different angles for you to target different muscle regions.
11) Improve your squat by wrapping bands around the knees.
You’ll need a big squat to build big legs and a nice butt.
But a lot of beginners suffer from valgus knees (inward caving of the knees during a squat) which impacts squatting power.
Looping a band around your knees as you squat forces you to push the knees outwards.
This can reduce your valgus knees and help you build a more powerful squat!
12) Resistance bands develop mind-muscle contractions.
Mind-muscle contraction refers to how well your central nervous system activates your muscles.
It’s a core component for maximizing muscle strength and power generation.
Resistance bands are a great way to develop your mind-muscle contractions due to the linear variable resistance mentioned before.
This forces you to concentrate on increasing power output as the band becomes longer and gets harder to stretch.
Resistance Band Disadvantages
With the pros out of the way, here are the 6 cons of using resistance bands.
If you’re looking for a more detailed list, you can check out my other post for the disadvantages of resistance bands!
1) Difficult to load bands with heavy resistance.
A lot of people can find it very hard to use heavy bands.
That’s because it takes a tremendous amount of core strength to use a heavy band. It’s something most people just don’t have.
This can be a limiting factor in how much weight you lift with bands and therefore your ability to build muscle.
2) Hard to measure progress.
Unlike free weights which have a specified load (e.g. a 100lb barbell), bands are simply color-coded or crudely labeled as light, medium, heavy, etc.
Additionally, bands produce a different amount of weight depending on how far you stretch them.
Therefore it can be very difficult to know exactly how much weight you’re lifting with bands
And this makes it hard to track progress and improvement.
3) Motivation can be difficult with band workouts.
The lack of progress tracking mentioned above also makes band workouts less fun.
Piling plates week in and week out onto a barbell can be strangely addictive.
That’s because you’re seeing measurable improvement over time.
This kind of improvement is hard to see with bands. And this makes it much harder to stick with a resistance band training program.
4) They’re dangerous when improperly used.
Safety is one of the underlooked cons of using resistance bands.
From the outset, bands look like a safe way to train right?
They can violently snap back at you when they’re under high tension.
Not only does this hurt (a lot) but it can also be dangerous).
5) Bands can snap and break quite easily.
This is probably one of the biggest cons of using resistance bands; they don’t last very long.
A good set of bands like the Undersun Fitness bands (link for the cheapest price) will last much longer than a set of cheap ones from Amazon.
Bit the lifespan of bands is still no match for good ol’ iron weights.
6) They can be uncomfortable to hold.
Most resistance bands don’t have handles.
And the ones that do have them, the handles are usually poorly designed or use cheap materials.
You end up either gripping bare rubber (gloves are recommended!) or a cheap plastic handle.
Both can be uncomfortable.
Do Resistance Band Pros Outweigh The Cons?
As you can see, resistance bands have their unique array of disadvantages.
Most of these stem from the way bands produce resistance.
The linear variability of resistance bands makes them hard to accurately quantify, track, and record progress.
And this can negatively impact motivation (especially for those looking t maximize muscle and strength gains).
But overall, I think the pros of resistance bands outweigh the cons.
Should You Get Resistance Bands Instead Of Weights?
Beginners can often find resistance bands to be a great alternative for replacing weights.
Bands are cheap, convenient to use, and effective.
However, intermediate and advanced lifters may want to consider using weights instead.
For a detailed comparison, you can check out my other post on bands vs free weights!
I’ve shared the pros and cons of using resistance bands.
Bands have a lot of advantages going for them; they’re super cheap, convenient to use, and can be used to work the whole body.
But the way to produce resistance also puts them at a disadvantage for those looking to maximize muscle and strength gains!
What do you think about resistance bands?
Let me know in the comments!
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 I used to go from skinny to ripped!
Thanks for reading guys!
(Biochemistry BSc, Biomedical Sciences MSc, Ex-Skinny Guy)