Dumbbells vs Resistance Bands: Which One Is Better for Building Muscle?

Looking to level up your strength training routine by adding a new piece of fitness equipment? Have it narrowed it down to resistance bands or a pair of dumbbells? How do you decide which is better for you? 

There are three primary factors to consider when deciding: your level of experience in strength training, your fitness goals, and what you’re willing to spend.

Key Takeaways

  • When deciding between resistance bands and dumbbells, consider your fitness goals, experience level, and what you are willing to pay.
  • Resistance bands are excellent for rehab work and training hard-to-reach muscles, while dumbbells are better for building visible muscles.
  • Combining resistance bands and dumbbells can help you get more out of your workouts.
  • Regardless of which option you choose, finding a high-quality model is critical to reaping the full benefits in your workouts.

Introduction to Resistance Training Tools

Free weights and resistance bands come in all types to suit just about any preferred training style.  Dumbbells are great for building strength; you can more effectively design a tailored strength training routine because you always know the exact number of reps and poundage. Resistance bands, on the other hand, are versatile and great for working hard-to-reach muscles. 

They come in many different fitness colors and resistance levels. However, just from looking at the bands, it may be hard to tell what you’re getting as far as how they will stand up to the challenge ahead. Resistance bands vary in color and weight range based on their resistance when pulled, from light resistance to heavy.

Understanding Resistance Bands

Resistance bands create variable resistance through elastic force, loading the muscle with greater resistance the harder you pull. The load of a resistance band often depends on the band’s thickness and how fully you stretch the band. They are easy to use, and you can do a wide variety of exercises using resistance bands.

Understanding Dumbbells

If you’re looking to gain muscular strength and weight training, using free weights is a pretty obvious answer. Because weights are quantitatively labeled with their weight amount, using weights offers more objective tracking. Especially with free weight workouts, lifters can enhance their muscular strength while improving balance and stability.

Detailed Overview of Resistance Bands

With bands, you can easily adjust your workout intensity by choosing a band with more resistance or by moving the band to different tension points on the body. Moving the band lower or higher on your legs will increase the difficulty and create a more advanced workout.

Benefits of Using Resistance Bands

Resistance bands stand out because they are affordable, versatile, and transportable. You can put them in your carry-on if you’re going on vacation and unsure if the hotel will have a gym. They allow you to train from various angles that dumbbells might not necessarily allow for. For example, you can push and pull them, which makes them great for rehab work. Bands also tend to be lower impact and easier on the joints, which might be a safer fitness option for people rehabbing an injury and those looking for minimal rest days.

Recommended Types of Resistance Bands

HeroStrength® Fit Bands provide workouts perfect for personal training, physical therapy, and home gyms. Band exercises are popular due to the controlled movements and resistance training they provide. You can easily take the bands with you anywhere and have a cost (and space) effective workout at your fingertips. HeroStrength® Fit Bands work your arms, back, legs, and gluteal muscles without purchasing expensive equipment or a long-term gym membership. HeroStrength® Fit Bands come in 8 different colors and sizes, providing plenty of options to find the band that fits your workout.

Effective Exercises with Resistance Bands

Band Thruster:

Step inside a looped band to give yourself an anchor and stand up straight. Drop to a squat position similar to a barbell thruster. Then, like the barbell thruster, explode upwards till you’re standing upright with your arms stretched straight up as far as they can. Instead of a barbell, you’ll be pushing the resistance band. Remember that the more you stretch, the more the resistance.

Band Thruster Workout

Hip Abduction:

Wrap a resistance band around the thighs. Lower down into a half-squat position. Press the right knee a few inches out to the right without moving your feet. Return to start. Repeat on the left side. That’s one rep!

Lateral Walk:

Wrap a resistance band around the thighs and slowly sink the seat into a half-squat position. Lift the right foot and take one step to the right, followed by the left foot. Then, reverse the movement to return to the starting position. That’s one rep!

Spanish Squat:

Spanish squatting is highly effective for targeting your quads. It involves using your resistance bands as an anchor for your legs such that your starting position has you leaning backward. From this starting position, squat till you’re in a “sitting” position. Keep your back vertical, thigh horizontal, and hamstring vertical as much as possible. Then go back to your starting position and repeat.

Detailed Overview of Dumbbells

Dumbbells allow you to add resistance and weight to exercise, increasing its intensity and effectiveness. Dumbbells also allow you to strength-train specific muscle groups in the gym and focus on your strength-training routine. Dumbbells increase muscle stabilization and activation for speedier results, and they allow for a greater range of motion than other popular free-weight equipment like barbells, kettlebells, or medicine balls.

Benefits of Using Dumbbells

Dumbbells allow you to add resistance to any bodyweight exercise, thereby increasing its intensity and effectiveness. Dumbbells also allow you to strength-train certain muscle groups that are difficult to activate with bodyweight exercises. Dumbbells allow you to control your exact resistance. You know what weight level you are lifting and can increase or decrease the weight accordingly. Dumbbells typically increase in weight by 2.5 LB increments. It helps when strength training to track your progress, particularly in bodybuilding; free weights like dumbbells are the norm when training or performing specific lifts. They allow you to push, pull, squat, hinge, lunge, and carry.

 Effective Exercises with Dumbbells

·         Bent-over rows

·         Upright rows

·         Hammer curls

·         Reverse curls

·         Lateral flys

·         Reverse flys 

Dumbbells also significantly increase the range of exercises you can do for other muscle groups, providing the variety and training stimulus needed to prevent fitness plateaus.

Portability and Cost: Resistance Bands vs. Dumbbells

Resistance bands are far easier to transport than dumbbells. Aside from your body weight, no strength training equipment is as light, portable, and storable as a resistance band. Bands can be tucked away into a suitcase, can be stowed in a drawer, or even kept in the trunk of your car for spur-of-the-moment outdoor exercise on the go.

Dumbbells are bulky and heavy, so if you want to travel with your workout equipment or store it out of sight, resistance bands will be far more convenient. Dumbbells are higher in price and are better when you have a specific space for them in your home or fitness center.

Durability and Precision: Dumbbells vs Resistance Bands

But when it comes to durability, dumbbells (particularly Hampton dumbbells) are going to outlast resistance bands. Resistance bands can snap or break through wear and tear. Dumbbells may be more expensive, but they are far more resilient. 

Safety Considerations: Resistance Bands vs. Dumbbells

Resistance bands are a great jumping-off tool if you want to tone up or rehabilitate a specific part of the body. But to increase muscle mass, you need to begin lifting weights.

Tips for Purchasing Resistance Bands

Importance of Quality

Even though resistance bands may be inexpensive, you still want the best quality. Some bands tear easily, stretch, and wear down, which may cause safety issues if your band breaks on you while doing your reps. You want a quality band that isn’t snapping in your face as you stretch it!

Choosing the Right Type for Your Needs

If you want to find the right resistance band for each workout, you will want a set with plenty of weight options. HeroStrength has a variety of resistance bands to choose from, ranging from 5 lbs to 350 lbs.

Tips for Purchasing Dumbbells

Dumbbell style and quality are essential when choosing the right dumbbell for you. Often people will choose dumbbells based on price alone, but though an inexpensive pair may be the most appealing while shopping, there may be better choices for you in the long run. 

You need to look for a dumbbell with a handle that is comfortable for your grip and a head shape that fits the rack of your choice. 

Cost may seem high for specific pairs, but a proper pair of dumbbells will last you through years of use and are an excellent investment for a home gym. Dumbbells are made from higher quality materials and created by the pound–guaranteeing you a good product that can withstand anything you throw at it in your workouts.

Weight Considerations

Hampton offers all types of dumbbells at several different price points. From neoprene to gel grip handles, you will find the right pair through Hampton Fitness! 

We offer Neo-hex, Pro-hex, Fixed Gray, Urethane, and even our lightweight Jelly-Bells. There are so many different styles to choose from and price points to fit your budget. Dumbbells are standard in fitness for a reason and are very much worth the investment. And Hampton’s five-year warranty can give the peace of mind that you won’t be throwing money away–you’ll get something built to last.

Combining Resistance Bands and Dumbbells in Workouts

Benefits of Using Both Tools

Instead of picking one or the other, it may work in your favor to incorporate both dumbbells and bands. Even if building strength is your focus, resistance bands are still great for accessory work, mobility exercises, and targeting specific muscles.

If you want to push yourself, you can combine the two for squats, curls, shoulder presses, deadlifts, and countless other exercises. Thanks to the combined weight and constant tension delivered by the free weight and resistance band, you’ll feel the effects quickly as you work through the movement. Or you can perform resistance exercises as a warm-up, then finish with free weights.

Overall, varying your training with elastic bands and free weights will likely yield the best strength and fitness gains. But at the end of the day, it’s most important to focus on form and stay consistent with training no matter which equipment you choose.

Strategies for Incorporating Both in Your Routine

Both resistance bands and dumbbells offer excellent opportunities to help you along your fitness journey. A great option would be incorporating both into your workout. Next time your in your home gym, grab a pair of light dumbbells and a few resistance bands and alternate between the two to see what works for you. Like any other exercise, doing the same old thing can become tiresome and cause workout fatigue/ burnout. So, by bringing both options into play, you increase your chances of shocking your body and keeping your workouts fresh!

Jesse Labreck demonstrates an effective workout.
Try this at-home workout that covers the whole body.

When deciding between resistance bands and dumbbells, consider your fitness goals, experience level, and what you are willing to pay. Both pieces of equipment are great for strength training, and you really can’t lose by purchasing both to have within reach at your home gym to set you up for success in your workouts. 

Plus, with Hampton’s wide selection of dumbbells and resistance bands, you’re guaranteed to find a quality tool that will enhance your workouts and keep up with your routine! Like this article? Get more delivered to your inbox by signing up for our Hampton mailing list. Follow us on Instagram, Facebook, and YouTube for more fitness content, plus deals, exercise tips, and sales!