Strength Training Equipment Buying Guide
Strength training will allow any user to build muscle, contributing immensely to a healthy and fulfilling lifestyle. Using different types of strength training equipment will not only yield a higher muscle tone in the body and improve endurance but it can also improve flexibility.
Strength training and muscle building can also help with weight loss, as lifting weights and using other accessories burns fat and calories. Different types of strength training equipment include: home gyms, free weights, weight benches, medicine balls and kettle bells.
Home gyms are a convenient piece of strength training equipment that gives the user many options when wanting to complete a work out. Home gyms can be similar to those in public gyms and allow the user to complete the same types of workouts from the comfort of their own home.
Home Gym Components:
There are a number of components to a home gym, each of which should be considered when making a purchase decision:
Cables and Pulleys
- Most common are those that use one or more weight stacks attached to cables and pulleys to provide resistance.
- These types use a pin to put into the stack of weights to determine how much you want to lift.
- Elastic bands on the machine can provide various types of resistances for the user when lifting weights.
Amount of Weights
- Need to consider how many types of weights and free weights may be included with the home gym. The amount of weights will help you optimize your workouts to meet your end goals.
- If multiple people are going to be using the home gym at the same time, you may want to consider a product with two or more weight stacks available.
Types of Lifting Equipment
- Different machines offer a variety of equipment depending on exercise usage—sit ups, leg curls, squats, etc. can all be accomplished depending on the type of tools the home gym is equipped with.
- Some machines offer leg-lift and leg-press add-ons
Number of Stations
- If you will be primarily working out by yourself, a home gym with just one station will be completely sufficient.
- There are gyms available that allow multiple users simultaneously.
- The more stations and options a home gym has, the more space it will take up in your home.
- Determine how much space you have for a home gym and find one that fits your needs. Most home gyms have foldable and compacting options to help save space.
Benefits to Owning a Home Gym:
Home gyms, while at first, may seem pricey, sometimes are more efficient than having a gym membership. A gym membership can be expensive, and depending on how often you use your home gym, the usage might outweigh the cost of going outside your home to accommodate your workout needs.
The types of workouts available from a home gym are numerous. Owning one will allow the user to get the most out of their workout in his or her house or apartment.
Free Weights and Weight Benches:
Purchasing free weights is a beneficial, inexpensive way to get started in strength training. They can be paired with a weight bench for efficient workout situations.
Strength training with these types of equipment will allow any user to build muscle, gain endurance and improve flexibility in certain muscle areas.
Free Weight and Weight Bench Components:
The structure of a weight bench is important to how you want to use your strength training equipment. Here are some components of weight benches:
- Need to determine how much space you have for a weight bench. Benches come in different sizes, each suited to how big your home may be.
- Many benches fold up to economize space in your home.
- Different benches are designed to hold different amounts of weight depending on the types of exercises you will use the bench for.
- Find a bench that fits your weight and exercise needs.
- The two support beams that hold together your weight bar.
- The wider the crutch, the more weight the crutch can bear.
- Some benches can be adjusted to provide incline or decline depending on what type of workouts you will use the bench for.
- Provides space for other activities (e.g. sit-ups, crunches, push-ups, etc.).
- Many benches offer extensions or add-ons for leg curls, extensions or arm curls.
- These are good options to consider when wanting to train both the lower and upper portions of the body during a workout.
Free weights are a simple fitness tool. They are generally put together with a steel bar in the middle in-between two plastic-coated, metal weights. They vary in size with lighter weights being smaller and heavier weights being larger.
Medicine balls are a common strength and core training tool used by all types of exercisers—from professional athletes to the average person trying to tone their body. This type of fitness equipment can also help those in rehabilitation programs as the medicine ball can be used in many different ways.
Medicine Ball Considerations:
When selecting a medicine ball, you must take a few things into consideration in order to get the most efficient and optimized workout.
- Short, Tall, Muscular, Lanky, etc.
Current Fitness Level
- A few times a week, every day, completely fit, professional athletic training, etc.
- Toning, stamina, flexibility, etc.
Determining what you want to use your medicine ball for will ultimately decide what weight and type of ball you purchase. Different sized balls can be more efficiently used for different workouts. If you're trying to improve flexibility, a few lighter medicine balls may be easier to use rather than selecting one heavy ball.
Medicine Ball Usage:
Medicine balls are most commonly used for core training and flexibility. Here are some types of workouts that benefit from incorporating a medicine ball:
- Done with a partner, each user takes turns tossing the medicine ball into the other's chest.
- Depending on the weight of the ball and physical condition of the users, it will strengthen arm, chest and upper leg muscles.
- Method commonly used by professional and amateur boxers to simulate a punch being thrown at the abdomen.
- Medicine ball is dropped from a reasonable distance onto the user's abdomen.
- Strengthens the core significantly depending on the weight of the ball.
- Used by athletes attempting to come back from injury.
- No throwing or dropping involved, but rather used in exercises that produce exertion on a specific, previously injured area.
- Sit-ups and leg raises are common exercises used, with the ball situated on either the abdomen (sit-ups) or legs (leg raises).
One of the most important things to keep in mind is the strength of each person using the ball. If one person is less physically fit than the other, use a ball more suited for the less physically fit individual to avoid any injury.
Having a variety of medicine balls on hand, each with a different weight, will allow for easier workouts.
Kettle bells have recently gained mainstream popularity and are now a common tool used in all kinds of fitness workouts. The simple, yet unique, structure of the kettle bell provides a user with a variety of workouts depending on the size and weight of the kettle bell and the physical condition of the user.
Types and Structures of Kettle Bells:
There are two main types of kettle bells available:
Standard Grade, Cast Iron
- Will always differ in size depending on the weight
- Often a difference in how big/small the handle is depending on the size
Professional Steel Grade
- Completely identical size no matter the weight (both in structure and the handle)
- Provides a more consistent workout routine for the user
Here is a small table of average and recommended weights of kettle bells depending on the user's gender:
|No experience/Rehabilitation||26-35 lbs.||17-26 lbs.
|Average Physical Condition||35-44 lbs.||26-35 lbs.
|Excellent/Pristine Physical Condition||44-53 lbs.||35-44 lbs.
Benefits and Usage of Kettle Bells:
Kettle bells provide the user with a full-body type workout. Given the weight, a kettle bell can be an important tool in rehabilitation and intense workouts. Determining what you will use your kettle bell for is important.
Here are some ways kettle bells are used and the benefits that a user can potentially gain from using this strength building tool:
Single Kettle Bell vs. Double Kettle Bell workouts
- Both are viable options and can be extremely efficient workouts.
- Double kettle bell workouts: Only for experienced users. Take it slow and use a single kettle bell workout before doubling up.
Strength Training and Calorie Burn
- Techniques and workouts progress quickly and can be challenging.
- Can highlight your strengths and weaknesses to help you optimize workouts.