For many years strength training was thought to be only for athletes and advanced exercisers. It now continues to steadily increase in popularity as its benefits become more widely known. With the right gym equipment and exercises, strength training just twice a week has been shown to change the way your body looks and feels. Benefits include increased metabolism, enhanced sport performance and the prevention of injury.
The first key to successful strength training is choosing the right gym equipment for you and learning to use it properly. Weight lifting equipment comes in many forms, from free weights to home multi-gyms. In fact, when it comes to strength training your choice of exercise equipment is endless. But as you probably know not all weight lifting equipment is created equal.
If you’re a seasoned weight lifter then you’ll know exactly what you’re after. If you’re relatively new to strength training you may still be unsure as to what type of weight lifting equipment is best for you. Here’s a quick guide…
Most experienced weightlifters prefer free weights such as dumbbells and barbells. If building significant muscle mass is your goal, free weights are the best option. Dumbbells are safer than barbells in that they can push you to failure on most exercises without you having to worry about being crushed by a 250lb barbell. A disadvantage of free weights is that certain exercises are hard to perform. There’s nothing you can really do with free weights that mirrors a lat pull down machine for your large back muscles for example.
Working your legs is also tricky. This is because the amount of weight they can handle is usually more than is safe to perform with a training partner to spot you. Of course the lack of a spotter is the biggest disadvantage.
In terms of price, free weights are cheaper than other types of weight lifting equipment such as home gyms. Having said that, once you’ve bought enough weight to overload your largest muscle groups and added the cost of a weight lifting bench, there may not be much difference.
Just like machines at the gym, you can significantly increase your lean muscle mass, strength and tone up using multi-station or single-station strength machine. Strength machines are much safer than free weights, especially if you don’t have a training partner as you can push yourself to failure on each exercise.
Their biggest advantage though has to be convenience and ease of use – just pull the pin out to change the weight. There’s no lugging of heavy plates on and off barbells in between exercises. And in terms of space requirement, there’s little to separate the two.
The only disadvantage is that you are restricted in your plane of movement. Think about lifting a set of dumbbells – they fit around your physique and movement pattern. A machine moves in a fixed plane (or planes) of movement so you have to fit around it. Secondly, you’re limited to the weight you can lift. If you’ve been weightlifting for several years and have exceptional strength, stick to free weights.
Strength machines are much safer than free weights, especially if you don’t have a training partner. You can also push yourself to failure on each exercise. Their biggest advantage though has to be convenience and ease of use.
Just pull the pin out to change the weight. No lugging heavy plates on and off barbells in between exercises. In terms of space requirement there’s little to separate the two.