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How to Decide Between Resistance Bands and Dumbbells

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colorful resistance bands and handles

Photo: zefirchik06 (Shutterstock)

Resistance bands and dumbbells are both great for strength training at home, since they don’t require much storage space and tend to be a lot cheaper than a full setup with a barbell and plates. But they each have pros and cons, so let’s talk about how to choose.

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Resistance bands can offer more total weight

If you buy beefy enough resistance bands, they offer a lot of resistance. A pair of “strong” bands from EliteFTS will pull on a barbell with the same force as 122 to 275 pounds of weights, depending on how far you stretch them. Way back at the beginning of quarantine, coach Greg Nuckols told us that a set of bands would be his pick for training as heavy as possible at home.

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Dumbbells are more versatile

If you truly love resistance bands, you can probably figure out how to do almost anything with them. But for most of us, dumbbells are a little more intuitive and it’s easier to find exercises that work appropriate muscles.

If you use a resistance band, for many exercises you’ll need to find a place to anchor it. Sometimes you step on the band, so it’s pulling on your feet (not always comfortable if you work out barefoot). Other times you’ll need an appropriate anchor at floor level, or overhead, or straight in front of you. Depending on where you work out, there may not be anything strong enough to do the job with the right placement.

Bands wear out over time

Iron is forever, but rubber degrades over time. Check the manufacturer’s directions, but most will tell you to replace your bands after a year, or sometimes just a few months.

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The way you use the bands can affect their lifespan. If the band rubs against its anchor point, for example, that can wear it out more quickly. (Follow manufacturers’ instructions for properly anchoring the band or attaching it to accessories.)

When a band snaps, it may end up hitting you, which is why some trainers advise against moves like face pulls in which you’re pulling a band toward yourself.

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The tension on bands depends on their length

This, I think, is the most important difference between bands and dumbbells. If you pick up something from the floor—you’re deadlifting a barbell or a pair of dumbbells, for example—you have to support its entire weight as soon as it leave the ground. But if you’re getting the resistance from a band, the resistance will feel very light when you’re closer to the floor, and get progressively harder as you stand up with it.

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This means you may be working harder than you want at the top of the lift, but not being challenged at all at the bottom. You can still work all your muscles if you choose and combine exercises appropriately, but this factor means that bands aren’t a drop-in replacement for dumbbell or barbell work.

You’ll outgrow fixed dumbbells

People often start with a pair of dumbbells that come stamped with a number on one end (a five-pound pair, for example), but if you actually train with them consistently, pretty soon you’ll need more. You’ll also notice that different exercises require different weights: Something that’s challenging to curl will probably still be too light to press overhead.

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A way around this is to buy adjustable dumbbells. You slide plates on and off, or with the fancy (expensive) brands you place them back on their rack and select the next weight.

You can still outgrow adjustable dumbbells. The affordable ones that come in 40-pound sets might seem huge to you at first, but 20 pounds per hand is not that much if you’re strong. “I can always buy more of the little plates,” you’ll say to yourself, forgetting to check how much room the dumbbell handle has for little plates. Often, not much.

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The bottom line is that dumbbells and resistance bands each have their pros and cons. It’s cheaper to buy several sizes of resistance bands than to buy a full lineup of dumbbells, but the bands won’t necessarily give you the same workout. This is another case where the ideal answer is probably: Why not both?

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Charge Your Phone Wirelessly With 50% off a Multifunctional LED Lamp

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Best Tech DealsBest Tech DealsThe best tech deals from around the web, updated daily.

White Wireless Charge Lamp | $18 | Amazon | Clip coupon + code ABC88699
Black Wireless Charger Lamp | $20 | Amazon | Promo code ABC88699

When you’re ready to turn in for the night, you don’t want to forget to charge your phone— especially if your mobile device doubles as your alarm clock.

With this wireless charger lamp, you can make this crucial step of your nightly routine even easier by just setting your phone on the wireless charging pad and… well, that’s all there is to it!

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Other functions include multiple lighting modes as well as a sleep timer option for auto shut-off of the light after 30 or 60 minutes.

This lamp can be yours in white for $18 if you clip the coupon on Amazon (it’s below the original $40 price) and add promo code ABC88699 at checkout.

You can snag the black version for $20 using the same code—no coupon though, sorry.

Don’t sleep on this deal! Who knows how long stock or the coupon code will last?

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Keep That Hotdish Hot With 65% Off a Luncia Casserole Carrier, Only $11 With Promo Code

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Best Home DealsBest Home DealsThe best home, kitchen, smart home, and automotive deals from around the web, updated daily.

Luncia Double-Decker Dish Carrier | $11 | Amazon | Promo code SDDU9S7F

It has been a long time since the days we could safely have a potluck or other gatherings, but we have a fantastic deal perfect for once those times return. These double-decker Luncia dish carriers can be had for 65% off when you add promo code SDDU9S7F at checkout and clip the coupon on the site (it’s just below the price). These holders fit 9″x 13″ sized baking dishes.

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That means you can insulate and keep two dishes of food warm for only $11 instead of $30. What’s more, your Luncia carrier will arrive by Christmas if you order today as a Prime member.

Just add promo code SDDU9S7F and clip the 5% off coupon to bring the price down to $11 for the blue or the grey option.

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Grab this offer while it’s still around!


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Conquer Your Pup’s Dander and Fur With $700 Off a Cobalt or Charcoal Bobsweep PetHair Plus Robot Vacuum

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Best Home DealsBest Home DealsThe best home, kitchen, smart home, and automotive deals from around the web, updated daily.

Bobsweep PetHair Plus Robot Vacuum & Mop (Cobalt) | $200 | Best Buy

Bobsweep PetHair Plus Robot Vacuum & Mop (Charcoal) | $200 | Best Buy

Allergies can be bad enough as the seasons change. Don’t let pet hair and dander add to that by vacuuming it up early and often. That chore is easier said than done— unless you have a robot vacuum to do the work for you. This lovely bright cobalt Bobsweep PetHair Plus robot vacuum and mop, only $200 today at Best Buy seems like an ideal option. That’s a whopping $700 off, by the way.

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You can get the same deal for the charcoal version of the robot vac, too. This model is not only specially made for picking up pet hair, it self docks and charges when it’s finished with the work.

It also comes with a mop attachment, so it can take care of those kitchen floors for you as well. Grab it while it’s still available for this fantastic price!

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