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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  • 106
    This is really nothing new- Eugene Sandow had a pair of steel standpulling cables with dumbbells for handles. Having said that I personally would rather do one or the other as they are 2 different types of resistance., - 12/14/2016   9:49:04 PM
  • 105
    will give it a try - 5/4/2014   2:06:23 PM
    This sounds like just what I need to get out of my plateau! Awesome and looking so forward to this tonight! :-) - 1/21/2013   10:23:10 AM
  • 103
    Super! I love it! I was going to buy heavier weights yesterday, but didn't, so this will work even better!!! Thank you, SP! - 10/5/2012   9:28:06 AM
  • 102
    I love this idea, I just posted an ad on facebook for heavier dumbbells, so maybe I won't need them! - 3/18/2012   8:07:33 AM
  • EKS225
    I thought I needed new dumbbells, but now I don't! This sounds great, and I will give it a try. - 2/9/2012   8:41:50 PM
  • 100
    I have dumbbells and bands so this is a great idea for me. I had hoped that there might be a photo or video showing how to combine them so I know how to keep proper form. - 3/29/2011   4:07:19 PM
  • 99
    What a great idea. I have neither the budget or space for many weights. Thanks for such an efficient solution! - 1/2/2011   2:16:38 PM
  • 98
    wow ! I learned something new today that I will try this afternoon. Thank you. - 7/3/2010   3:27:34 PM
  • 97
    This is a great tip and will save me from buying heavier weights. - 5/30/2010   1:09:10 AM
  • 96
    Hmm, I have both but had never thought to use them together. I will have to try this out. I wish there was an accompanying video that did a quick demo to make sure I've got it right! - 12/24/2009   1:28:26 PM
    I LIKE it! Will encorporate this in my workout this afternoon! - 11/5/2009   12:50:30 PM
  • 94
    I can't wait to try this!!! I've been stressing about getting some new dumbells (mine just aren't heavy enough anymore), but I've got bands too! I'll try this tomorrow for my next strength training day. Great idea. Thanks! - 11/5/2009   8:52:41 AM
  • 93
    I'll try it today at the gym. It sounds a bit awkward but I'm very curious to give it a try! - 10/13/2009   7:31:01 AM
  • 92
    Why didn't I think of that? What a great idea. Now I know what my workout will be tonight! - 9/30/2009   10:14:26 AM
  • 91
    I have bands and free weights, but I've never thought about combining them. Have to try! - 7/24/2009   1:22:42 AM
    This is a great idea. I'm looking forward to giving it a try. - 7/23/2009   9:45:56 AM
  • 89
    I do have both, and will definitely try this! Thank you. - 6/22/2009   11:48:30 AM
  • 88
    Not ready yet, but sounds like a good challenge. - 3/14/2009   12:57:26 AM
    this is great, just today i was wondering how i could amp up my strength training. and seeing as i have both of these, i will def try this as soon as i get home. i love the idea! - 1/21/2009   3:30:05 PM
  • 86
    Good one! That's exactly what I usually send with my clients for their on the road fitness. - 1/20/2009   8:31:30 PM
  • 85
    I have a resistance band that I had gotten with a trial order of diet pills (which I wound up not being able to use due to my high blood pressure). I've done the resistance band videos and exercises here on Sparks but I never thought to use weights along with them - THANKS for the info.

    One of my New Year's "confirmations" is to start adding more variety to my workouts and this is an excellent way to do it!! - 12/21/2008   1:20:07 PM
  • 84
    Very cool!! I hadn't ever thought to do this but I will have to try it out tomorrow for my ST. - 12/11/2008   1:58:45 PM
  • 83
    Not ready for this yet, but it shouldn't be too long!! Will keep it in the memory bank!! - 12/9/2008   4:38:50 PM
  • 82
    I love this combination! I'm using your body breakthru from Michelle Dozios and that is what her workout use! It's awesome!!! - 11/23/2008   3:22:52 PM
  • 81
    Great idea! I will be trying this. Hope it will get me off this plateau! Thanks - 11/22/2008   2:08:33 PM
    They say the best ideas are the simplist ones.
    DOH! why didn't think of this LOL.
    I'm off to treat myself to some bands - 11/22/2008   5:58:30 AM
  • ANGEL98409
    It's so simple and yet it sounds like it's going to really put some "work" into workout, what a great idea! I will give it a try this weekend when I zone in on one of my major trouble spots...my upper arms! - 11/21/2008   7:15:10 PM
    What a great idea! - 11/21/2008   3:44:01 PM
  • 77
    haven't tried it but it sounds challenging. - 11/21/2008   2:25:18 PM
  • 76
    Now why didn't I think of that! Like many others, I've never thought of doing this. But, I will now. Thanks for sharing. - 11/21/2008   11:51:52 AM
  • 75
    I would definitely try this. Further, if you would do just a dumbell/band workout video for your store, I would buy it in a skinny minute. I am physically unable to do the ball routines. But one showing the technicques on dumbells and bands, plus combining would be most welcome. Just a suggestion? - 11/21/2008   10:00:17 AM
  • 74
    Thx for the great tip! I'm gonna try this today! - 11/21/2008   9:52:37 AM
  • 73
    I haven't tried this, but I will work it into my routine. It looks like a great way to get over a plateau. Thank for the great info~! - 11/21/2008   9:39:33 AM
  • 72
    I haven't but I will try it today. - 11/21/2008   9:33:27 AM
    I wouldn't have thought of trying both together, but it makes perfectly good sense. Thanks! I'll be giving this a try this weekend. - 11/21/2008   8:45:57 AM
  • 70
    This is great! And (hint hint hint) I eagerly await your videos on this technique....
    Coach Nicole - you are THE BEST! - 11/21/2008   7:40:37 AM
  • 69
    I was thinking my next step had to be buying a barbell, but now I can up the resistance without spending more money! Thanks! - 11/21/2008   6:50:55 AM
  • 68
    Actually, adding a heavier dumbell probably wouldn't do the same thing- resistance bands give you a slightly different workout than dumbells, so combining the two actually changes what you are doing, whereas increasing the weight wouldn't. Especially helpful, too if you're not READY to increase the weight (or can't afford a new set of dumbells)! - 11/21/2008   5:34:55 AM
  • 67
    Wouldn't increase the amount of weight that you lift do the same thing, without the bands? - 11/21/2008   4:56:35 AM
  • 66
    I have used the weights and the dumbells. However, I've never thought to use the combination together.....Interesting concept, I'm open to trying it. Thanks for sharing the information. - 11/21/2008   1:25:59 AM
  • 65
    They should make a WII FIT Game that uses bands and dumbbells with sensors in them. - 11/21/2008   12:30:21 AM
    Thanks..I never thought about it. I will try it. - 11/20/2008   10:54:44 PM
  • 63
    I will try this soon. Thanks for the new idea!!! - 11/20/2008   9:23:09 PM
  • 62
    Had not heard of this but love the concept so I will be trying this especially for my arms, can't wait to see eventual results. Thanks for the info. - 11/20/2008   8:55:35 PM
  • ROSE_312
    Haven't looked..but are there and video demos that show the comined bands/dumbbells? - 11/20/2008   5:48:10 PM
  • 60
    I'll be trying this today when I do my strength workout!! - 11/20/2008   4:57:57 PM
  • 59
    This is a totally novel idea to me and I am planning to try it. Thanks for something so simple and potentially effective! - 11/20/2008   3:59:14 PM
  • 58
    This is fantastic! I have the bands without handles, so I'll absolutely do this! Just have to tie the (no handles) bands onto my dumbbels! THANK YOU! - 11/20/2008   2:54:57 PM
  • 57
    Just starting incorporating free weights and all I can say is wow! I'll have to try the bands now. Thanks for all the great info! - 11/20/2008   2:39:37 PM

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