Either form falls under the larger umbrella of strength training. Both are forms of strength training and are very beneficial. They can be utilized congruently throughout your daily exercise. Yet, depending upon your goals, each has its place.
Strength training consists of any exercise that uses resistance to build muscle (i.e. weights or resistance bands). Resistance can be defined as the act or power of opposing or withstanding force. Gravity is the main force our bodies must constantly overcome, but forces come in a variety of other forms and sizes. Vacuuming the house, climbing a flight of stairs, deadlifting 145 pounds, are all examples of forces the body may have to overcome. So, what can you do to accomplish these tasks more efficiently and successfully?
Simple. Strength training.
The goal of any strength training activity should be to:
- Increase connective tissue strength, including that of muscles, bones, ligaments and tendons
- Increase muscle mass
- Enhance quality of life
- Decrease risk of injury
These activities will help build and tone muscle to overcome the forces in our daily lives.
The biggest difference between weight training and resistance training is actually in the equipment that is used. Weight training is quite clear. Free weights (i.e. dumbbells), weight machines, or other objects are used throughout a movement pattern to strengthen a desired muscle group. Likewise, resistance band training uses exercise bands or tubing through a movement pattern to strengthen a desired muscle group. Nevertheless, the difference is NOT just the equipment they utilize, but the way in which the muscle is activated throughout the exercise/movement pattern.
Free weights rely on gravity to provide the resistance in an exercise. As a result, individuals often utilize momentum to get the weight (especially free weights) moving, which can result in poorer form and less benefit to the target muscle. (For more information on general exercise technique check out this post.) Resistance bands do not rely on gravity to create resistance. They rely on the tension within the band itself. This allows for complete range of motion during an exercise. Also, it allows for natural movement patterns to be explored and strengthened. For example, throwing a baseball or swinging a golf club become possible exercises with resistance bands that cannot be performed with free weights.
However, resistance bands do have some limitations. Over time they will break down and the amount of resistance they produce will vary. Additionally, resistance bands do not have the same amount of resistance at the beginning position of an exercise as they do at the end position of an exercise. This means that throughout the exercise pattern the resistance the body has to overcome will vary. Weights will hold up much better over time and will provide constant resistance throughout an exercise if performed correctly.
So, which form of strength training is best?
Both. Depending upon your goals, activities of daily living and strength both forms will be beneficial to your exercise routine.
For more information check out our post regarding questions to consider before starting an exercise program or contact us with your questions.
2. American Council on Exercise. https://www.acefitness.org/acefit/fitness-fact-article/2661/strength-training-101/.