Free Weights

The most common question among fitness enthusiasts is, “ free weights or machines? The answer? Both!

Free weights are essential because they train secondary muscles. Secondary muscles are those groups of muscles on your body that help or assist the major muscle groups and are primarily responsible for preventing injury. When you perform resistance training with a machine, the machine keeps your range of motion within a very short spectrum. This restriction in essence is what prevents secondary muscular development, and subsequently, prevents injury. Why does your body need to build these muscles if the machine will perform their function for you?

Another benefit of free weights is that they demand you to work harder, which will invariably build more strength and get you in better shape. Do you think that a professional athlete or an Olympian will actually train their bodies using only machines? No way. You may think, “But I'm not a professional athlete nor am I an Olympian.” And while this may be true that does not exclude you from being the best that you can be, right? So why not use free weights, because it's the fastest way to reaching your goals.

Finally, it's important to note the value of machines. They are great for training muscle groups that are difficult to train using free weights. Further, machines will give you a chance to work out if you cannot perform an exercise completely using free weights. And ultimately, a machine will really finish off your muscles as you train them to failure using free weights.

So as you can see, a comprehensive exercise routine involves free weights as well as machines. You can't have one without the other and be the best that you can be. It's important to remember this fact as you plan your home gym. Don't neglect one or the other!

For most serious bodybuilders, weightlifters, power lifters and those concerned with real strength training, nothing beats free weight home gyms. Free weights require balancing the weight as it is lifted and lowered. Alternatives, such as resistance training machines, don't add this valuable element into the workout routine. You can also achieve a much greater range of weights using free weights as opposed to other machines. A home gym can be very basic or extremely elaborate – depending on the space you have for your gym and the amount of money you are willing to spend. All you really need for a whole body workout is a weight bench and weights. Other equipment adds options for different exercises and intensity, but you can properly work every major muscle group with these two basic essentials.

You can create free weigh home gyms with just a few basic pieces. Dumbbells and a weight bench are the only things you need to start, though you'll likely want to add more pieces as you progress. Or, get a set of dumbbells with removable weights that grows with you as you increase in strength and stamina. Women should start with dumbbells weighing 5 to 12 pounds and gradually increase weight as fitness levels improve. Men should begin lifting 12 to 20 pound weights and progress from there. A barbell is one of the next things to add to the home gym. These allow you to bench press, squat and other power building and strength increasing exercises. Plan some type of ab exercises, as well. With a floor mat, you can do sit ups, crunches, etc. By getting an adjustable weight bench, you can increase the intensity of your ab crunches by declining the bench and working against gravity.

When purchasing dumbbells and barbells, it is important to note that most of these bars are weighted. Know how much your bars weigh before adding additional weights. For women and people with physical injuries or health issues, the bar alone might be the maximum weight you need until you improve. Begin with 1 to 3 sets of 10 to 20 reps with the most weight you can lift this amount of times. Add sets until you reach 5 to 10 per workout. Then add weights until you can complete the entire amount of sets with the new weight amount. Progress as you feel you can handle more weight.

There is another piece of equipment to add go free weight home gyms, and it is very important. Every home gym needs some form of cardio training. You simply can't get a good cardio workout by lifting free weights alone, and lifting weights doesn't improve the health of the heart, the function of the respiratory system or the function of the circulatory system. For these great health benefits, you need a treadmill, elliptical machine, exercise bike, rowing machine or another way to get this exercise. At least twenty minutes of cardio exercise is recommended per day. Many weightlifters choose to get ten minutes prior to their workout and another ten afterwards, which is perfectly suitable for most regimens. To get the bonus benefit of fat burning, you need to strive for at least 45 minutes per day of cardio exercise.