Strength training includes both home gyms and free weights and is a vital part of any workout routine.
Consider your fitness goals when you are buying a home gym system. You want to make sure that your gym has a number of weight ranges and exercises available. The gym should to be easy to adjust so that you can move the levers and heights for the weights since home gyms are one-size-fits-all. The frame should be made of tubular steel, and the greater the gauge of the steel, the more stable the machine will be. Look for frames that are welded and not bolted in critical places. The cables should be able to withstand up to 2500 lbs. of force. Aircraft cables covered with a nylon coating are best. The benches should have padding and handgrips should also be covered with padding to help prevent blisters.
Free Weights & Benches
Free weights consist of dumbbells, barbells and kettle bells. These weights can come in metal or plastic or rubber coatings. Metal weights are very durable but have the potential to cause more damage if they are dropped. Coated weights won’t cause as much damage, but the coating may show more wear and tear, and they may have to be replaced sooner. They are easier to grip and ideal for the beginner.
Dumbbells are smaller weights that you purchase in pairs and are relatively small and easy to store. Instead of buying fixed weight dumbbells you can purchase incremental weight dumbbells that allow you to adjust the weight plates. You can adjust them by adding or removing weight so that the set can adapt as your strength training needs change.
Barbells are similar to dumbbells except are purchased singularly. They are larger and can take up more space. Since they have fixed weight amounts you will have to buy heavier ones as your muscles adapt to the weights. You can alternatively buy a weight bar and separate weight plates – then you can purchase more plates as your strength needs change.
Kettlebells resemble bowling balls with a handle. They come in a range of weights and are useful in strength training as they help build core strength and give an overall body workout. If you are starting out with kettlebells, an instructional book or video is helpful as the exercises can be more complex.
Resistance bands are similar to a cable machine in the gym, as they require muscle tension to move them. They are inexpensive and can travel well so they are ideal for a workout on the go. They are available in different tensions (light, medium, heavy) and styles, and ideal for the beginner.
Your bench is one of the main pieces of equipment for your strength training workout. Depending on the exercises you want to do, decide whether you need a stationary bench or one with varying incline and decline positions. You may also want to choose a bench that has add-on pieces so you can adapt your bench as you vary your workout routine. Buying an adjustable weight bench is more economical than buying several benches. Make sure the bench has adequate padding so it is comfortable to use.
Safety is essential when lifting weights. If you are using free weights, make sure you maintain proper form so you do not injure yourself. If you are lifting heavy weights overhead, make sure you have a spotter. Be careful when you are moving your free weights as well. Keep your back straight and bend with your knees. Make sure they are properly secured at all times so you do not drop them on yourself. You should also make sure your equipment is locked away if you have small children as a home gym can look like a playground to them.
- Gloves to prevent blisters
- Mats to protect your floors in case weights are dropped
- Weight rack to store your free weights and weight plates
- Weightlifting belt to help minimize potential injury
It is recommended that you consult your health professional before starting any rigorous exercise program.