When weight lifting first started becoming popular back in the 1970s, the options were limited to barbells or dumbbells. Today however, anyone who is even moderately familiar with fitness can tell you that the sheer number of weight machines and equipment available is astounding. It is easy to get lost in the many options and conflicting information on what works best. This section will define a few basic weight lifting equipment selections to aid in your workout goals.
Since many people are working out to get results, money is best spent on equipment that will produce results. Unlike cardio, lifting weights will increase muscle mass and boost metabolism, giving that toned and lean look that so many people are seeking from their workout. It only makes sense that the focus would on weight lifting equipment.
Every good fitness plan, regardless of desired outcome, should include some type of weight training. Strengthening, toning, building muscle, or building endurance can all be done with weights. When selecting exercises, be sure to include enough exercises to exercise all major muscle groups of the body. These muscle groups include the shoulders, chest, back, arms, abdominal/core, and legs.
The most common forms of weight lifting equipment are:
- Barbells: The barbell was one of the first types of standardized weight lifting equipment made, and it is still one of the best. In addition to the barbell you will need weight plates that will slide on to the barbell for adjusting the weight. A standard Olympic barbell weighs 45 pounds. Weight plates to increase the weight of the barbell range from two and a half pounds all the way up to 45 pounds.
- Dumbbells: Dumbbells consist of a handle with two equal weights on each end. There are three major varieties of dumbbells. Fixed dumbbells weight a specific amount of weight that is stamped on the dumbbell. Adjustable dumbbells can have the weight changed by adding or removing weights, similar to the way a barbell is adjusted. Finally, a selectorized dumbbell will provide a fast and easy way to add and subtract weight from the dumbbell.
- Weight machines: Weight machines are made by many companies, and they are designed to exercise one muscle group. Some type of handle is attached to a lever or cable system that is attached to a stack of weights that has a pin in it. By adjusting the pin up and down you can change the weight that is lifted.
Besides the standard weight lifting equipment, there are a few other things that need to be used.
- Lifting straps: Often times the amount of weight that is being lifted is limited by grip strength. Lifting straps allow the lifter to wrap the wrists and lift weights that could not be lifted with normal grip strength.
- Weight benches: Benches are usually adjustable and allow the lifter to assume various positions while lifting.
- Body workout bars: Body bars are weighted bars that do not allow for addition weight be added. They are generally used for toning and exercise classes.