Weighing the advantages and limitations of different types of weight training equipment

Starting a strength training regimen can be a daunting task; several companies claim to have found the key to producing bigger and better muscles, or simply the leanest, fittest body in town. In reality, most strength or weight equipment can be quite effective when used properly. The catch is that you have to be comfortable with the equipment and you have to use it properly in order to succeed at hitting your target fitness goals.

When you envision strength training, you are probably thinking of the weight sets you commonly see at the gym. A bench, a bar and some dumbbells are a pretty good start for any strength regimen. A free weight set-up is inexpensive and easy to customize. Plus, free weights work stabilizer muscles and core muscles while you work. Another advantage of free weights is that, with a complete set, you are able to work out at the same time as other people and thus can share your workout space with the family. If you have a bench and a lot of weights, it can take up a fair amount of room, so you will need the space to store and keep these items. Weight lifting can be fun when you are working out, but it may not hold the same appeal when you are trying to clear space when company is coming. Also keep in mind that you will need a spotter for many free weight exercises. To maintain safety, free weight lifting is a buddy activity.

Weight machines

If you are tight on space and intend to workout by yourself, you may want a weight machine. These devices, usually comprised of weights pulled by cables and pulleys, are versatile and easy to use items of weight lifting equipment. Since the weights are controlled by the cables, you will not risk injury if you max out and have to let go of the weight bar. Most weight systems have stations for arm, leg and core exercises that will give you a complete all-in-one workout. Many weight machines come with exercise booklets or links to online content that show you how to use the machine and give you ideas for some great strength workouts. Because the weights are controlled by the machine, you won't work your stabilizer muscles as well as if you did with free weights, but you won't need a spotter if you have to work out alone.

Resistance bands

For those who are intimidated by heavy weights, gym equipment might be a little scary. Resistance bands are a lightweight option for people who are starting from scratch, working around injuries, or simply want a more portable training option. Bands of varying thickness and elasticity mimic the resistance applied by weights. With proper form, you can get a workout that is equally as challenging and can be conducted just about anywhere. Additionally, resistance bands provide great all-around muscle training, since stabilizer muscles are needed to keep proper form. If you are into hardcore strength training, resistance bands may not provide the consistency or feel that you will get from free weights or a weight machine. However, resistance bands can be a great addition to an all-around fitness routine.

Free weights, weight machines and resistance bands can help you trim fat and build muscle, along with a healthy diet and cardio routine. Whether you want to bulk up or slim down, Sears can help you find the best strength training equipment for you.

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