Jaquish Biomedical
March 17, 2021

Resistance Bands vs Weights: Rubber Meets Iron

Resistance bands and dumbbells on a gym floor
Resistance Bands vs Free Weights

You have been conditioned to believe that weightlifting is the answer to all of your fitness goals. But what if we told you that there was a better way to gain muscle and transform your body?

Admit it, you’re intrigued.

Like you, we were once skeptical about weightlifting alternatives. After all, everyone always says, “just stick with it, and you’ll eventually see results.”

But we got tired of waiting.

Now, thanks to the research 1, we know exactly what drives results. News flash: it’s not weightlifting.

Still not convinced? Let’s dig a little deeper and find out why. Then, we will tackle the solution and what this means for the resistance bands vs weights debate.

Weights Are for the Weak (Range) #

We know this is a bold claim, so let us explain.

What is the strength curve? #

Gaining strength and muscle mass is possible through a particular principle known as the strength curve 2. Simply speaking, the strength curve describes how your strength can change based upon the muscle’s range of motion. You have both strong and weak points along the strength curve.

Think about the bicep curl. There are specific points when your bicep works harder to lift the weight than others. This is normal and true for any movement, whether you are doing biceps curls or deadlifts.

Why weights are for the weak range #

A man performs a bench press
A Free Weight Bench Press
Unfortunately, weightlifting does not yield optimal results because it only targets a portion of your bicep’s (or any muscle) strength capabilities. In fact, lifting weights cannot generate the necessary force to trigger muscle growth throughout the entire range of motion.

Dr. Jaquish found through research 1 that weightlifting frequently overstresses the joints, which increases the risk for injury and overuse syndromes. You may also find yourself subconsciously hesitating to lift a chosen weight. Therefore, you will never come close to reaching your full potential with weightlifting.

This is a huge problem.

Why? Because when you pick a weight, regardless of whether it is a plate or dumbbell, you are limited to your strength capabilities in the weakest range of motion.

You’ll never even make it to the strong range, where your true strength lies—it remains untouched.

Perhaps unsurprisingly, most bodybuilders and gym enthusiasts know this. They think that they can reach those medium and strong ranges by lifting more weight.

Sadly, this is when injuries occur; joints cannot handle such heavy loads in compromised positions. Because of this, we caution against this tactic.

On the other hand, some claim that you can see effective strength gains by using low weight and performing high reps. But one thing’s for sure—muscle is not built using low force 3.

Resistance Bands vs Weights #

By now, you’re probably wondering how to get maximal strength gains without risking injury. And, as promised, we have a solution.

The solution to reaching your full strength capabilities is through variable resistance training, a method in which the resistance changes throughout a lift. This involves the use of resistance bands.

Chains and bands are often used with weights to increase the difficulty and tension. However, joints remain at risk when weights are involved.

Can bands build strength and muscle?

How do we know if resistance bands are good for building muscle?

Is there a safer and more powerful way to utilize variable resistance?

To find these answers, let’s go back to the strength curve.

Optimizing the strength curve to grow muscle #

Dr. Jaquish explained this concept well in his book, Weightlifting Is A Waste of Time .

Let’s use the bench press as an example.

During the lift, you enter the weakest range at the bottom of the movement, where the bar hovers above your chest. Here, the weight feels the heaviest.

Your medium strength range happens about halfway through the lift, and the strongest range occurs at the top. Here, your arms are straightened but not fully locked. The strong range is where the weight feels lightest, which happens to be where the muscle has the most capacity to produce force.

As you can see, your muscles are capable of handling different amounts of weight. Now we will discuss how to optimize that strength curve to grow muscle.

Greater amounts of muscle growth occur by finding a weight that changes as we move. This ideal weight would provide a lighter load in the weaker ranges of motion and a heavy load in the strong range.

Luckily, variable resistance and resistance bands can accomplish this and more. Resistance bands exploit the natural strength curve for any movement and address each point along your range of motion.

Are resistance bands good for building muscle? #

Yes. Resistance bands provide varying amounts of resistance that match the natural strength curve of our muscles. They provide high amounts of tension at your strongest range and low amounts through the weaker ranges.

And get this: resistance bands allow you to lift more without risking injury to your joints.

Want to know the best part about using resistance bands for building muscle? Anyone can use and benefit from them. Multiple studies1 have proven that athletes and weekend warriors alike can safely build muscle and improve performance when using resistance bands instead of weights.

Resistance bands have even been proven to be effective in older adults, according to one study 4.

Regardless of your age, just imagine the gains you could have by lifting more force using resistance bands vs weights and reducing your risk for injury. In our eyes, it’s a win-win.

Restricting your weight to meet your weakest range of motion seriously limits muscle gains.

Static weights like dumbbells and barbells are not capable of challenging muscles built for different types of force.

Only variable resistance can achieve this.

But can resistance bands do it alone?

Dr. John Jaquish realized that something more was needed to maximize both the force the human body can produce, and the force it can withstand.

Dr. Jaquish and his partner, Henry Alkire, designed and produced an Olympic-style resistance band bar with hooks where the bands could attach safely.

Internal bearings were added so the bar could move with the user’s hands through the range of motion, protecting the wrists and maximizing force production.

The result has changed how tens of thousands of people work out.

Resistance Bands vs Weights: The Verdict #

Our muscles are capable of producing forces about 7x more than the average load lifted 1 during a typical gym session with weights. Most of us are lifting weights that are not even close to our true potential, which stunts results and slows progress.

With resistance bands, the weak range is eliminated, which results in more muscle activation throughout the entire range of motion.

Did we mention that resistance bands are incredibly convenient and take up less space than a weight rack?

The point is this: there is no debate when it comes to resistance bands vs weights. X3 Resistance band training produces superior results and reduces stress on your body’s joints.

Stop thinking that weightlifting is the answer to all of your gym goals because we’ve just proven that it isn’t.

And that was just the beginning—learn more about how to use resistance bands instead of weights by checking out Dr. Jaquish’s book, Weightlifting Is A Waste of Time .

Sources


  1. Weightlifting Is a Waste of Time  ↩︎

  2. How can exercise strength curves affect hypertrophy  ↩︎

  3. Understanding and Using the Overload Principle  ↩︎

  4. The effects of a combined bodyweight-based and elastic bands resistance training  ↩︎

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