My relationship with weights and strength training has been all over the map, from the springs on the Pilates machines to jumping with a weight vest at basketball practice in high school. I have been on a free weight kick for a few years now, and I rarely use the machine. What about you?
When I started going to the gym the free weights were always free and the weight machines were always occupied. So in an effort to save time I had to only use the free weights and hardly ever had the opportunity to touch the machines. Now, I prefer free weights and don't care as much for the machines. So what about you?
I know the Cable Pulley Machine is a little intimidating. The machine is big and with endless options, since you can work nearly every part of your body in almost any range of motion using it, but that is one of the reasons you should learn to love it!
New research backs up what many of us feel intuitively after working out with this machine; free form strength training makes you stronger and more flexible. Not only that, but using the cable pulley machine challenges your sense of balance and improves it considerably more than working with fixed weight machines. Another noted benefit, there was a marked decrease in joint pain when working with cable pulley machines. With all these bonuses, how can you walk past the machine?
If you don't have access to the cable pulley machine, there are similar benefits to working with free weights.
When you first start lifting free weights, it's great to have a set at home so you can lift while watching TV or after a run. You'll want to invest in at least two sets of different weights, maybe some five pounders and some eight pounders. Why? Since certain muscles are stronger than others, you'll want to vary the weights accordingly.
That means six-pound weights may be the perfect weight when working your triceps, but they may feel too easy when doing bicep curls, so you'll want to switch to the eight-pound set instead.
Fit's Tip: How do you know what size weights to use? You should be able to do the exercise for 12 to 15 reps with correct form, and it should feel difficult by the last few reps. If you feel like you can't even do five reps, then choose a lighter weight. If you get to your last rep and you feel like you can do another 20 with no problem, move up to a heavier weight.
I love my set of dumbbells at home. They are perfect for Saturday mornings after I jog when I am looking to get in a little resistance training, but don't feel like packing up and heading over to the gym. If you are looking to purchase some free weights for your home, use these tips for making the right purchase.
Free weights, more specifically dumbbells, come in several varieties and are fairly easy to use. Dumbbells typically come in chrome, unfinished metal, plastic, thin foam covering (neoprene), and concrete. Chrome, while pretty, may require more maintenance than the others. Metal often requires lifting gloves since the handles can do a number on the skin on your hands. I am partial to foam because the foam doesn't hurt my hands (or rings) as much as the non-foam weights.
The size of the handle is an important consideration as you want to make sure you are able to get a firm grip around the weight. You also need to decide on the correct amount of weight for your strength now and in the future. How heavy you go depends on what your goal is. For example, if you are aiming for muscle strength then you should be able to do 1-3 sets of 5-8 reps with the weight. If you're looking for muscle endurance then you should be able to do 1-3 sets of 15-20 reps. Finally, if you want muscle power then you should be able to do 1-3 sets or 3-5 reps.
Fit's Tip: Always practice a few exercises with the weights before purchasing a set.
Free weights are great for so many reasons and I am here to tell you why.
Free weights save time since they are all so very versatile, and you can work many body parts using the same weight. That way you don't waste time walking from machine to machine. Plus once you get comfortable with a routine you can buy weights for your home making your strength training routine super convenient.
You have to work your core muscles when lifting free weights since you are stabilizing yourself against the movement of the weight. They also challenge your sense of balance and coordination. You can move your joints through a rather big range of motion so the little muscles that stabilize the joints get worked too.
You can move around with free weights and mimic actions of real life like squatting, lifting things over your head and twisting. So the strength you are building is more applicable to your daily life.
Lastly, there is so much you can do with free weights that the chances of getting bored are low.
Have fun with your dumbbells.