Adjustable Dumbbells vs Resistance Bands

By | November 23, 2023

We’ve got more ways to work out than ever. While it’s a great thing, it can also cause us to second guess if the methods we’re accustomed to using to break a sweat are really the best for us.

Two of the latest alternatives to traditional free weights are resistance bands and cleverly engineered adjustable dumbbells. Which one is worthy of your devotion and cash?

Comparability Factor

Comparing adjustable dumbbells to resistance bands is a bit like comparing a vise grip to a wrench. Both are tools with some similarities in function but ultimately each is perfect for certain tasks while totally inadequate for others.

Resistance bands are the best for maintaining good form, improving your balance, and targeting the smaller muscles and joints in your body.

Dumbbells are ideal for building strength and targeting the bigger muscles and joints.

If you’re just starting out, the best question is: which do I get first?

Often the most valid choice is to own both dumbbells and resistance bands. You’ll likely gravitate towards one or the other depending on your goals and style of workout, but the type you use less may be the complement you need.

Versatility Factor

Adjustable dumbbells and resistance bands are both incredibly versatile. You can strengthen and tone your legs, arms, back, abs, and chest with either.

However, resistance bands do have an edge here. Resistance bands give you the ability to finely tailor the amount of resistance you want. First, by choosing a band from a resistance band set that has just the right level of resistance. Second, by stretching the band more or less.

Wrapping a resistance band around a pole or using a door anchor opens up a whole other world of exercise.

Adjustable dumbbells are more versatile than traditional dumbbells because they can be adjusted in increments of 2.5 lbs. to 5 lbs.

Comfort Factor

When it comes to comfort, resistance bands win for many exercises. Any time a flat resistance band is placed against your body during an exercise it makes this advantage clear.

Resistance bands tend to be gentler on your joints than free weights. So, overall, it’s a comfortable experience.

Convenience Factor

Adjustable dumbbells and resistance bands offer different types of convenience.

People who live in apartments or have a small living space will appreciate the small footprint of adjustable dumbbells. They might not top resistance bands in this area but they’re a big improvement on traditional free weights.

Travel lovers will appreciate that resistance bands are light enough to pack into a suitcase. They don’t occupy much space either.

Price Factor

One of the biggest differences here is price. Black Mountain Products Ultimate Resistance Band Set includes bands rated at up to 50 lbs. Similarly, the Bowflex SelectTech 552 Adjustable Dumbbells can be set to the highest maximum weight of 52.5 lbs. So, while they are comparable based on that spec, the adjustable dumbbells cost about five times as much.

Disposability Factor

Resistance bands are made from latex rubber tubing which is prone to snapping after extended use or when stretched an extreme amount. The flat type of resistance band can be thought of as an essentially disposable product while the tube type may more than a few years, even with heavy use.

This is where the price factor is misleading. Yes, adjustable dumbbells cost significantly more, but you won’t be replacing them as often as you will with resistance bands.

Wow Factor

Adjustable dumbbells such as the ever-popular ones from Bowflex have a lot of cool factor going on, and if that propels you to use them, fantastic. However, after the wow factor wears off, this is a product that is all about ease of use and space-saving.

Moving past the advantages specific to adjustable dumbbells, you can also reference this post about Resistance Bands vs. Free Weights to get to the heart of the matter.


If you’re choosing from adjustable dumbbells and resistance bands, your lifestyle, fitness habits, and budget all come into play. Thus, there’s no clear winner for everyone.

The best solution is to have both dumbbells and resistance bands as part of your workout arsenal. That way you won’t be limited by the pros and cons of either.