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  • Writer's pictureSteve Feller

Mix Up Your Weight Training


When we work out, we need to mix up our routines to keep the muscles improving. If we do the same type of exercise, same routine our muscles become conditioned and stop growing. When we talk about any exercise, resistance is what pulls at those muscles and creates small tears which then forces the muscle to heal, thus growing. But different types of exercises produce different types of resistance.

If we look at free weights, gravity, and weight causes resistance, but that resistance is always downward. Also, when we look at range of motion, we have the same resistance in the full range of motion. Example would be a bicep curl, it is 20 pounds at the beginning and 20 pounds at the end, the resistance does not change.

Now if we look at resistance bands, the resistance can be lighter in the beginning and stronger at the end. You can create resistance at an angle, side to side or many different movements. “A study published in a 1998 issue of American Journal of Sports Medicine, reported that collegiate tennis players who trained using elastic bands increased their shoulder strength and the speed of their tennis serve. Another study, from Louisiana State University (New Orleans), discovered that an elastic band training program strengthened the rotator cuff muscles of collegiate baseball pitchers better than a program that used free-weight dumbbells.” https://bodylastics.com/elastic-resistance-vs-free-weights-by-jim-stoppani-phd/

But what if we combine these two together? You can get some benefit when combining the two together, but you need to be careful, not all exercises will help, and some could injure you. Lifting that gets easier as you lift, like a bench press, is a good use. Ascending and Parabolic are exercises that are a good example of ones that you will find benefit. Ascending strength exercises are chest fly, chest press, leg press, squat, dead lift. Parabolic strength curve exercises like biceps curl may benefit to some extent as the first half of the parabolic strength curve of muscles matches with the resistance curve made from the combination of bands and fixed weights. Now descending is not a good combination, descending is rows or leg curls.

I found this article that really helps understand the combination of mixing it up.” Combining resistance bands with free weights doesn't mean that you always need to use resistance bands and fixed weights together at the same time.

Combining bands with weights and using them in the gym or within your home can be tricky sometimes. Further, maintaining the same resistance at both dumbbells or the ends of the barbells is important.

So, you may opt from any of the below-mentioned methods for combining resistance bands with fixed weights in your workouts -

  1. You may switch between resistance band training and fixed weight training on alternate days. That means, in this case, we are not going to merge resistance bands and fixed weights into a single exercise at the same time. In fact, if you do weight training with barbells and dumbbells on Mondays and Fridays, the resistance band training can be done during every Wednesday and Sunday.

  2. Perform one set with dumbbells followed by another set with resistance bands of the same exercise. In this case, if you do one set of biceps curl with dumbbells, then you can immediately switch over to the resistance bands and do another set with higher repetitions of biceps curl exercise in follow up aiming for muscle failure, making it one complete superset.

  3. Overlap fixed weights with the flat bands or tubular band as per your convenience at the same time for your workout routines. This is an ideal way to reap in the benefit of resistance bands as well as free weights. Initially, you may find it time-consuming to set up and difficult to complete the sets due to the instability created by resistance bands.

To begin with, you may go for one exercise per workout per day with a combination of resistance bands and weights. With practice, you may be able to judge the correct size of the resistance band and dumbbells to use in combination and increase the number of exercises per workout with a combination of resistance bands and fixed weights.” https://uniqueaddict.com/blogs/resistance-bands/benefits-combining-resistance-bands-with-free-weights

I tend to mix the two within my workout, but usually in separate exercises. I may do bench presses with dumbbells or my cable machine as one rep and then do another rep with the resistance bands. I can tell the difference in each exercise. But the key I wanted to make is that you need to mix up your routine.

“Resistance bands and fixed weights are great pieces of fitness equipment with their own benefits and limitations. By combining resistance bands with free weights, we are able to overcome the limitations associated with resistance bands and free weights. It is worth trying the combination of resistance bands and dumbbells/ barbells if you understand the concept and reasons as stated in this article. Doing the wrong exercises with this combination may cost you an injury. Practicing patience and developing skills over time can bring faster results and muscle gains.” https://uniqueaddict.com/blogs/resistance-bands/benefits-combining-resistance-bands-with-free-weights

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