Resistance Bands Versus Dumbbells: Which Offers The Better Strength Workout?

Getting into shape can be a daunting task all on its own. Whether you're choosing to hit the local gym or work out at home, you may be pondering which equipment will help you in your strength training goals. Keep in mind that while most equipment can be used with versatility, there's a difference between training for strength and hypertrophy, according to FitBod. Strength training refers to specific exercise movements that will increase the force found in each muscle. Hypertrophy, on the other hand, refers to increasing muscle size.

Two tools often used in strength training are resistance bands and free weights. Resistance bands are typically color-coded bands varying in thickness and size, that are used to add resistance to bodyweight workouts. According to Fitness Revolution, resistance bands offer several advantages including being lightweight, portable, available to use virtually anywhere, and offering a unique resistance that standalone bodyweight workouts won't offer.

However, there are also a few disadvantages to using resistance bands. First, there's the possibility of the bands breaking over time or with continued use, per Fitness Revolution. Second, they aren't great for measuring increases in strength or progress over time. Most resistance bands are categorized as light, medium, heavy, or similar variations. However, it can be hard to determine the exact weight equivalent in order to measure progress or strength gains over time.


Dumbbells can seem like a less intimidating option to new gym-goers or those working out at home. Dumbbells are individual portable weights, ranging in increments of weight from half a pound and up. Some dumbbells can weigh as much as 50 pounds, according to Livestrong.

Dumbbells are a good tool for exercising several muscle groups at the same time. Compared to cable machines, dumbbells utilize the freedom of movement to help engage more muscle groups to provide stabilization, according to Healthline. These handheld free weights allow the individual to target muscle groups effectively while providing a more total body workout.

However, there are some drawbacks to choosing dumbbells. First, dumbbells can be expensive. Standard dumbbells are offered in single weight, and you'll likely need heavier dumbbells to progress as you get stronger. Additionally, dumbbells can be cumbersome to store. Chances are that you'll need a pretty wide weight range to have an effective workout. If you've opted for traditional dumbbells, this may mean lugging around multiple weights to achieve your desired workout. Fortunately, some modern dumbbell options do offer adjustable weight (via Fit and Well).

Which is better for strength training?

When trying to decide which equipment offers more benefit for your strength training, the pros and cons can be almost even between the dumbbell and resistance band options. Since strength training focuses on increasing the strength of a muscle, increasing the weight is critical (via FitBod).

Resistance bands do offer some benefit to strength training, helping to improve the form and flow of each repetition. However, due to the lack of an associated weight value to the bands, along with the relative inability to properly track progress or gains (via FitnessRevolution), resistance bands alone may not be the best option for your strength training needs.

Dumbbells, on the other hand, do have an individual weight value with increasing values for higher or heavier weights. While there is a limitation to the weight an individual dumbbell can have, overall dumbbells provide a great starting point for effective strength training exercises. All in all, Livestrong recommends incorporating both of these tools into your workouts.