We will classify weight lifting equipment as any equipment used in
strength training. Strength training is exercising with the goal of
physical strength. There are two general categories of strength,
relative strength and absolute strength.
Relative strength is building maximal strength without increasing your
body-weight. It is not about “bulking-up”. You would probably use
different weight lifting equipment with this goal in mind.
Absolute strength is simply about maximizing your body’s ability to
perform work regardless of body-weight, more body-weight means bigger
muscles and greater strength. Think about the big offensive linemen or
the super-heavyweight power lifters.
While you can use many different weight lifting equipment to reach
either goal the traditional weight lifting machines would be what most
people would think of regarding this goal.
Weight lifting equipment has changed over the years. Jack Lalanne
invented many of the concepts used in modern day weight lifting
machines. These machines and equipment have not entirely replaced the
classic barbell and dumbell sets.
Strength takes time to build and basically work through working your
muscles in different ways. Many strength and conditioning coaches are
getting away from the idea of using weight lifting equipment to build
Instead, more and more athletes at all levels are looking to build
relative strength. In building relative strength, the weight lifting
equipment used often not your traditional home gym.
In building strength you need to work your muscles in different ways.
Exercising, by its very nature, places stress on your muscles. By
placing stress on your muscles through exercise your body adapts by
getting stronger and building muscle. Weight lifting equipment provides
different alternatives for producing this stress.
As your body adjusts to the stress if you increase the resistance
systematically to avoid plateaus you continue to stress your body and
add strength. All weight lifting machines or weight lifting equipment
are designed to do this.
Eventually your body simply reaches a plateau where resistance isn’t
creating the benefits it was early in your training. By decreasing the
resistance for a while, then increasing it again your body will often
reacting by breaking through your plateau.
Again, weight lifting equipment generally provides you with the
flexibility to alter resistance.
The faster you move the stronger you’ll be. You’re using more muscle
fibers and can use momentum. This has less to do with the equipment you
use than the technique. Some machines though could hinder your ability
to exercise faster.
Power is the ability to accelerate: going from a dead stop to fast. The
quicker you can achieve top speeds, the stronger you’ll be. Again, this
has less to do with weight lifting equipment than it does technique.
Types of Strength Training
You have different types of weight lifting equipment or methods
available to build strength. Here’s a
The classic picture of athletes working out in the gym or power-lifters
competing in the Olympics is of people using barbells and dumb bells.
The most basic weight lifting equipment are free weight sets
and benches. They have been sold for years.
Weight Lifting Machines
A disadvantage of a machine over free weights are restricted in your
plane of movement. A machine moves in a fixed plane of movement so you
have to fit around it. Secondly, you're limited to the weight you can
The advantage to a home gym are they 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. Most home gyms have a lat pull
down and attachments to work your legs. 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
There are numerous machines on the market. The type of resistance is
what makes them different.
Machines that use weights as resistance are often known as universal
weight lifting equipment or machines. They use pulleys and chains or
other means of attaching weight. These machines allow you to do a
variety of exercises and are generally safer for you to use alone than
The bowflex uses bands to create resistance. Each band provides a
different amount of resistance. Unlike traditional machines, Bowflex
home gyms with their resistance bars don't rely on gravity. As a
result, they make it impossible to 'cheat' your way through an exercise
while reducing strain on the joints and tendons. For efficiency, safety
and results, no free weight system or weight stack machine even comes
Body Weight resistance
There are weight lifting machines that will allow you to do numerous
exercises using a
percentage of your body weight as resistance. Probably the most
recognized machine of this type is the Total GymTM.
Other equipment include simple chin-up bars or push-up devices such as
the Perfect Push-up.
What to look for
There are a number of cheap weight lifting equipment available. The
are typically filled with sand or some other material for weight. While
this type of weight set offers its own advantages, it will undoubtedly
wear over time and eventually become unusable.
A traditional and more expensive cast iron weight
set will last as long as you do and take any abuse you dish out on it.
Don't ignore the material for any bench and storage devises for the
sets you get. You do get what you pay for. With any of the weight lifting
machines you will want to make sure they are made of
quality, durable materials. Cheap plastic and or metal can be both
unsafe or likely to break in a much shorter period of time.
You would want to check out the warrantees. The longer the warranty the
better. Also, if the manufacturer has been around for a while, like the
Total GymTM, or BowFlex® you can probably be safe
that the quality of the product
is generally good.
You will need to ask yourself how portable you need it and if it is
designed in a manner that makes it easy to move even from one room to
another. This would also include its ability to breakdown and store.
If you don’t have the adequate floor space and want this machine to out
of the way when you aren’t using it the ability to break it down and
put it up quickly and easily is vital. You also need to understand that
if it is out of sight it is out of mind and it become much easier for
you to not get into a workout routine.
We don't just mean all the weights but the benches and storage
racks, which you would want to consider as well.
If you are intending to build a good home gym
consisting of free weights storage and space will be important as by
the very nature they are not extremely portable.. Size
You will want to consider the amount of weight that comes in a free
weight set or the amount or resistance a machine can provide.
Think about the workouts you will want to do as well as your ultimate
goals. If your primary goal is relative strength you don't need a great
deal of weight. In fact, many trainers will recommend not even using
this type of weight lifting equipment.
You would want to look at the price of additional pieces to add to the
separately. It could be that you get a good enough deal by buying a set
that you decide it is worth purchasing one with more weight than you
will need for your goals.
You will want to look at the number and size of dumbells that could be
included in the set. You would definitely not want to ignore having
Also, in considering size don't ignore the amount of floor space you
will need for benches
or other equipment that helps keep you safe while lifting or store your
weights when not in use. The size of the machine or machines will also
help you make a wise decision.
How much can you increase the weight? The smaller
the amount the more flexibility you have in designing a varied strength
building routine. Many dumbbells are of a fixed weight, but
adjustable dumbbell systems are available for a slightly higher cost.
These dumbbells are ideal for those who want to
build muscle through single-arm exercises, but don't have room for
fifty dumbbells of differing weights.
The more expensive sets are generally better
quality and better made, which will make them less likely to break. The
collars are especially important. If weights
fall off the barbell injuries can and will happen.
Weight benches need to be strong and sturdy. The
last thing you need is a bench to break while you are lying on it doing
a bench-press. Check the construction material and design. Cheap
material is more likely to break and design with lots of pieces to
assemble makes for more opportunity for structural failure.
Most weight sets have either smooth iron, which
could slip when wet, or textured iron or chrome which over time could
wear away at skin. Many weight sets now have rubberized grips that
allow for a very secure hold while being softer on your palms than
Kettle Bells, Ropes, and
other "weight lifting equipment.
Anyone that is familiar with kettlebells will know that actually one of
the oldest types of weight lifting equipment. If you are unfamiliar
with a kettlebell, imagine a cast iron shot put (of various size and
weights) attached to a very thick iron handle.
Kettlebells have become resurrected as an important option in choosing
weight lifting equipment. This is especially true if your goal is
I first learned of kettlebells through a gentleman who was working to
for Punch Kettlebell
Gyms. He had
been involved in the gym scene for years and was working to help open
franchises for Punch Kettlebell
Gyms. We were coaching baseball and he was using some really
interesting strength and conditioning techniques that caught my
As it turns out there are numerous strength and conditioning coaches at
the professional level who are using kettlebells and ropes (more on
this later) as major weight lifting equipment.
If you are a rookie considering kettlebells and want to give them an
honest trial you might want to at least purchase the video of Pavel
Russian Kettlebell Challenge. Pavel's is an expert with
kettlebells (he was
a nationally ranked kettlebell lifter in Russia) and with training
elite special forces units. You can also check out the art of strength
Watching the video you will notice that many of the lifts were
the classic Olympic lifts. If you were an experienced weight lifter you
would notice in the video that many of the
kettlebell ballistic lifts were much easier to learn than the
traditional Olympic lifts, and it
seems believable that anyone could learn these lifts. There were some
very interesting other exercises as well, such as the bent press,
several different overhead pressing exercises, the windmill.
The movement of the kettlebell
versus a dumbbell is different. The flipping of the kettlebell and the
quite different along with the extra grip work that was performed
because of the thick handle. Many people have been sold immediately
that kettlebells are very useful weight lifting equipment.
The other great benefit of using a kettlebell is the ability to perform
many different hybrid exercises. With a dumbbell the movements are not
as smooth or easy to perform because of its shape. The kettlebell
allows one to transition to many various exercises very quickly. This
is not only
effective for strength, but outstanding for dropping bodyfat because of
the high caloric expenditure and the increased level of intensity.
There several features to consider in purchasing kettlebells. There are
companies that offer plate-loaded
kettlebells, which would make sense to many lifters. However, the
problem with those is the kettlebell flips onto the wrist in
many of the exercises, which is not a problem when the exercises are
done correctly because of the shape of the bell. This changes though
when you use plates. Imagine several ten-pound plates banging against
In a traditional kettlebell you
also have a stationary handle, the newer models may have a revolving
handle. The problem then becomes the
kettlebell would gain too much momentum when flipping over, again, this
would lead to a very unpleasant striking of the forearm.
There are models that allow you to fill your own kettlebells. Those can
be very convenient if you travel frequently and want to bring some with
you. You may not want those as your everyday kettlebells.
Like most weight lifting equipment you should check out the
manufacturer's guarantee and warrantee. How long have the been around?
What is the material made from. In purchasing any weight lifting
equipment we don't advise skimping. We understand it is hard to live
within budgets, but you do get what you pay for.
They are terrific for bodyfat loss,
improving lean body mass, and helping teach proper speed of the hips
(very important for speed and power sports). I would not get rid of
barbells and dumbbells, but do feel that kettlebells have and SHOULD be
used by any serious lifter.
Just make sure that you find a qualified
instructor if you are wanting to incorporate some of the more
Benefits from kettlebells versus regular free weights include:
Greater body rhythm
Increased grip strength
Different leverage stimulates the muscles differently
Ability to perform hundreds of hybrids and exercises
Ropes Gone Wild is a workout developed by Art of Strength. It is
strength building and endurance training. The only weight lifting
equipment you need is a heavy and long rope. Just a
few minutes of Ropes Gone Wild is as good as running on the treadmill
at high speed for a half-hour, and it’s a lot more fun!
The ropes are not your standard rope. The reason this helps build
strength as well as endurance is they are heavy guage. The weight
lifting equipment is the rope.
At home you would loop a rope
through a couple of heavy kettlebells to anchor it down, and then I go
right to undulating it. That gets my heart rate up
immediately. It’s a full-body workout. The movement comes
from my core and radiates out into the ropes.
At Punch, workouts generally end with Ropes Gone
style – 20 seconds of work and 10 seconds of rest, 8 times.
That’s about 4 minutes building up serious endurance. This
intense interval-training also burns a lot of calories, not only while
we’re training, but for hours afterwards.
Regardless of age, fitness, or skill level, anyone, strongman or not,
can benefit from Ropes Gone Wild. It beats the monotony of
treadmills or ellipticals, and it burns far more fat and calories while
increasing endurance. That’s why ropes were named the best cardio
tool of 2009, by Men’s Health magazine.
Ropes are convenient,
economical, and simple. They can be used inside or outside,
looped around a tree, a pole, or through kettlebell handles.
That’s all there is to it. Ropes are another example of how you
do not need fancy and expensive equipment to develop genuine strength
and endurance. Simple equipment, huge effort, and lots of attitude are
all that’s required.
Goals, workouts, and weight lifting equipment
Before investing in weight lifting equipment we suggest you take these
First, be sure you are motivated to follow through with any workout
plan. What is your history in this regard? What are you willing to put
in place to be sure you will follow through? If you are not motivated
to follow through you will be like an overwhelming majority who buy the
weight lifting equipment or fitness equipment only to have it collect
Second, assuming you have a good track record or good plan in place to
follow through and develop a workout routine you will want to determine
your goals. While you will want specific training goals right now we
are talking about are you looking to develop relative strength or
absolute strength. If it is relative strength you can get a great
workout without all of this weight lifting equipment.
If you are an athlete looking to develop relative strength you may very
well want this equipment, but you really don't necessarily need a huge
home gym. Think about what you are after before deciding.
You should probably checkout our workout