Dumbbells + Band = Twice the Results!


By: , SparkPeople Blogger

I'm all about home workouts using inexpensive equipment. When you have resistance bands, dumbbells and a ball, for example, you've got endless exercise options and combinations for a pretty small investment. But as you get stronger and fitter, your once-challenging dumbbells can become obsolete. Well here's a tip that will help you extend the useful life of your dumbbells and DOUBLE your workout results at the same time!

By using a resistance band and dumbbells at the same time, you'll add challenge and variety to your exercises and keep seeing results without buying heavier set of weights. Even if your current weights are still challenging, adding a band can help you build even more lean muscle. One study published in the Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research found that exercisers who used dumbbells and resistance bands simultaneously gained twice the upper and lower body strength as participants who used free weights alone. I don't think we need researchers to tell us that when you combine two forms of strength training into one, you're adding challenge (resistance) and therefore likely to see better results. But it's sure is good to know that your hunch is right!

Why try this technique? Besides adding challenging to less-than-challenging dumbbell exercises, you can speed through your workouts faster when you use heavier resistance. Instead of doing, for example, 20 reps using a band or dumbbell alone, you can combine the two and reach fatigue in far fewer reps, which means less time spent working out. Or if you're looking to prevent or overcome a plateau, a new technique like this could be just the thing you need to "shock" your body back into action. Lastly, fitness fanatics like me just like to try new exercises and techniques, and this is a fun and interesting one to try that gives you more workout options.

So how do you do it? Combining your resistance band with free weights isn't rocket science, but it's very individual. Most people can hold onto the handles of a resistance and small dumbbells at the same time without sacrificing form or safety. If your bands are the "Pilates" style ones that are flat and don't have handles, you can usually wrap them around the dumbbell handle. But if you find these options too uncomfortable, you can probably rig your band to your dumbbells in whatever way suits you best—just make sure it's secure, you can grip the dumbbell without risk of dropping it, and you aren't sacrificing form to try this technique. Be creative when it comes to exercises. You could add dumbbells to nearly every exercise that uses a resistance band, or the other way around.

I have to say, I'm a fan of this technique and I use it occasionally myself—at home, at the gym, and even when teaching fitness classes. Why not shake things up a bit and give it a try? Doubling the results of my workouts is incentive enough for me to use bands with dumbbells more regularly. How about you?

Do you ever combine resistance bands with free weights? Will you try this technique?

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  • 56
    THIS is why I LOVE SP! Great idea!! Thanks Nicole! =) - 11/20/2008   1:07:24 PM
  • 55
    Sunday I was packing up some workout stuff and tried just a resistance band instead of free weights and found that it would be way too light. I never thought of combining them. What timing to see this here the day I returned from that trip. - 11/20/2008   12:46:22 PM
  • 54
    This is a great idea!! You guys are great for always coming up with ideas!

    Thanks SP!! I love it!! - 11/20/2008   11:07:22 AM
    This is a great idea. I workout at home but only have two sizes of dumbbells and I've been considering buying larger dumbbells so that I can increase the intensity of my workout (since I don't have time to increase the length!). This way I can increase the intensity without buying the new equipment. Thanks! - 11/20/2008   11:00:52 AM
    what a great idea. will try this today. - 11/20/2008   10:02:59 AM
  • 51
    This is great -- I never would've thought of it. I just got my SparkPeople Fitness Starter Kit so now I have a resistance band! - 11/20/2008   9:59:38 AM
  • 50
    What a great idea! I have both, but never would have thought to combine the two... I'll try it out at home today! thank you. - 11/20/2008   9:47:48 AM
  • 49
    Great Idea, I've been using 50lbd dumb bells for bench press for awhile now and can't go up because that's the heaviest they have at the fitness center where I work out, so this will help me to keep progressing! - 11/20/2008   8:35:38 AM
  • 48
    What a great idea! Just what I needed to shake up my routine. Thank you. - 11/20/2008   8:23:20 AM
  • 47
    That sounds like a great idea. I have some 3lb. dumbbells that would be perfect for that. - 11/20/2008   7:46:17 AM
  • 46
    Wow - very interesting! my free weights are feeling too light and easy and this is a way to increase my workout without spending more $$$ right now. - 11/20/2008   7:36:43 AM
  • 45
    I'm glad I saw this. This will add a new dimention to my workouts. I already own all of the above. - 11/20/2008   7:14:52 AM
  • 44
    This sounds like something I would like to try!! - 11/20/2008   7:07:30 AM
  • 43
    I think I am going to try this technique. I am in need of breaking through a plateau, maybe this is what I need to do just that. Thanks for sharing this information. - 11/20/2008   6:41:15 AM
  • 42
    This may be just what I need! I already use 5 pound ankle weights, and have bands (both Pilates style and a band with handles). I have been wondering about adding weight to my exercise routine, but di I really need more than 5 pounds on each ankle when I am not trying to add bulk, but just tone? This may be it! - 11/20/2008   4:50:02 AM
  • 41
    Good idea, may be I'll give it a try! - 11/20/2008   2:36:29 AM
  • 40
    I have weights in my jump rope, but never thought to add it to the resistance band! Great idea! - 11/20/2008   2:24:38 AM
  • 39
    Neat idea! I alternate between band and dumbbells, but haven't tried using both simultaneously. - 11/19/2008   11:28:45 PM
  • 38
    Just got the bands so I will try to combine them for a change and a "shock" - 11/19/2008   11:04:40 PM
  • 37
    We use both in my WOW Class (Women on Weights) but I've never combined them, I'll give it a shot (and listen to the ladies complain about how hard it is, I love that! LOL) - 11/19/2008   10:41:46 PM
  • 36
    I'm going to try it~ I think it would be great! Thanks for the tip! - 11/19/2008   10:38:58 PM
  • 35
    I was wondering if it was possible to combine dumbbells with resistance bands, but was concerned that I may be overdoing it. When I hit a plateau, I will be definitely giving this a try! - 11/19/2008   10:10:47 PM
    Occasionally one of my gym class teachers has us use bands and small hand weights at the same time. I'll have to try it on my own at home, too. - 11/19/2008   9:07:34 PM
  • SHERI1969
    I do not use both right now but when or if that time comes when one or the other does not do what it is supposed to do, then yes, I would try this. I think it would work more muscles than using just the one or the other. - 11/19/2008   9:06:15 PM
  • 32
    wow thats pretty cool. I know I have some resistance bnds somewhere - 11/19/2008   7:14:26 PM
    Never thought about doing that. I'll have to try that out. Thanks - 11/19/2008   5:58:59 PM
    Can't wait to try this out. - 11/19/2008   5:51:48 PM
  • 29
    Wow! I have both and never thought of combining them! Now maybe I don't have to buy that new set of weights!!!! - 11/19/2008   5:35:20 PM
  • 28
    This is a great idea!! - 11/19/2008   5:03:56 PM
    So gotta try it :) - 11/19/2008   4:23:38 PM
  • LINDA_
    This is new for me. Great idea - 11/19/2008   4:20:18 PM
  • NANA8026
    Great tip. Will try next time. Thanks - 11/19/2008   3:54:56 PM
    I never thought of using both! Such a great idea!!! - 11/19/2008   3:48:38 PM
  • 23
    Thanks for the great info! - 11/19/2008   3:48:10 PM
  • 22
    What a fabulous way to pump up a workout. I'm going to try this out. - 11/19/2008   3:44:14 PM
  • 21
    Hey - I like this - i need some heavier weights for some of my exercises, i have the bands already and I really LIKE the idea of getting more out of my exercises!! - 11/19/2008   3:25:33 PM
    As much as I use my hand wts. and the different wts of exercise balls, I am just on a break to beable to try using the resistance bands with my hand wts. Never knew of this before.....I'll be back. Elyn - 11/19/2008   3:19:29 PM
  • 19
    I will try this tonight. Thanks! - 11/19/2008   3:19:26 PM
  • 18
    I will try this. - 11/19/2008   3:08:22 PM
  • 17
    What a great idea. For some of my exercises I don't feel my heavier wts are enough and having small hands, using two in one hand is not practical. I don't want to spend a lot on equipment, but since I have the bands, I don't have to go out and get any bigger weights. Thanks for sharing. - 11/19/2008   2:47:40 PM
    I think I saw the resistance bands and the ball at the spark store. I use dumbells; using the bands makes sense. Thanks. - 11/19/2008   2:30:44 PM
  • ASH72461
    i didn't think of that and i am all for exercise that doesn;t cost much. - 11/19/2008   2:23:25 PM
  • 14
    I've never thought about doing this... I'll give it a try though! - 11/19/2008   2:18:21 PM
    I've never thought about doing this, but am so willing to try especially since I don't have much time right now. Getting in two strength training workouts at once could save me at least 10 minutes! Thanks for posting this! - 11/19/2008   2:00:22 PM
  • 12
    Brilliant! I'll be trying this during my next strength training session (and I'm going to tell my personal trainer about it)! - 11/19/2008   1:59:10 PM
  • 11
    Gee...I shoulda had a V8!! Duh, cant believe I didnt think of this earlier! I am def going to try it with my next strength training...... - 11/19/2008   1:45:36 PM
  • 10
    Thanks for the tip. I was just about to invest in some heavier weights.
    Lynn - 11/19/2008   1:43:07 PM
    Now if I could find a good resitance band DVD LOL. I know I have seen the pictures but sometimes seeing the form is better. - 11/19/2008   1:42:04 PM
  • 8
    ( I love spark ) - 11/19/2008   1:40:41 PM
    I have those "Pilates-style" bands that are just flat strips. Those will work well. Great tip, Coach Nicole! :) - 11/19/2008   1:31:19 PM

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