The Greeks introduced the first free weights, which are similar in forms to what we are familiar with today. The Greeks designed their equipment as halterers. Halterers were used more for sports. The typical way to hold these weights would be by gripping it through a hole. The Greeks never bothered to expand their strength training equipment, since the halterers were greatly popular as they were. The next strength training equipment innovation would not come for nearly eight centuries! In 1875 doctors began to design a cardiovascular machine in order to calculate the bodies hear-rate during physical activity. This machine began to become known as the treadmill. The treadmill, however, was not used for fitness purposes until the 1950’s. In the 1950’s, many businessmen saw the potential of the treadmill as an exercise machine rather than just a medical tool. Many corporations began to reproduce and compete in the treadmill business thereafter.
The choice depends on your level of experience, your exercise goals and, to some extent, your personal preference. An understanding of these factors will help you decide if free weights or machines—or a combination of both—will help you reach your goals.
Standard metal plates/rubber encased weight plates -These are the most common in commercial gyms. These should not be dropped. They come in circle and 12-sided versions. Typically, each weight denomination of these is a different diameter, with the 45lb or 20kg plate being the largest (typically around 17.75in).
The next day, I get to the gym, look around, and see the squat rack. It was empty. Sweet! I walked over, noted that the rack looked a little different than the ones in the videos, but everything else looked right: the barbell, weights, safeties, check. So I went with it. I quickly figured out how to adjust it to the right height, put some weight on the bar, did a few sets, and then went home.
Kettlebells – These are weights that resemble a cannonball with a handle. Kettlebells are an amazing tool for helping you to get stronger (some people train exclusively with kettlebells with great results). Most commercial gyms stay pretty light with these, you may be able to find a gym with some 53 lb and 70 lb (and maybe higher) kettlebells. If you ever plan on doing any sort of kettlebell work, you’ll grow out of the 8lb ones that most gyms have pretty quick.
Squat Stands – These are two pieces that stand next to each other to hold up your barbell. These are great for portable workouts, but for inside a gym, they have a lot of disadvantages (they don’t hold as much weight, aren’t as sturdy, and lack safety features).
Remember, in order to begin strength training you don’t need fancy equipment, you just need equipment in good enough condition to be safe and to serve your purpose. In order to start barbell training, you really only need some sort of squat rack or power rack, a barbell, and weights. In order to start dumbbell training, you just need a few dumbbells.
When I first decided I was going to start lifting, I was scared to death of the weight section of the gym. For weeks before I even walked near it, I did what any rebel would do: I started researching like crazy. I talked to my fellow rebels on the Nerd Fitness message boards, I found tons of lifting videos on how to squat properly, watched them meticulously, and took notes like crazy.
Gloves – Some people like to use gloves to protect their hands from developing callouses while lifting. However, you still get callouses and your hands can rip from under the gloves. Since they can also mess up your grip and technique, I do not recommend wearing them.
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