WeightLifting Equipment

Part of the You Can Learn Weightlifting series.
By Ken Brown
Editor, YouCanLearnSeries.com
October 14, 2004

What are the tools of the weightlifter? What equipment do you need to build strong muscles and go through the entire range of motion and utilize all your muscles?

One of the things you have to consider before setting up your home gym is how much space you have to place the equipment. Some of us have a whole basement as our workout room. Others go to health clubs and have a wide range of equipment at their disposal. But then a few of us have a small corner of a small bedroom to do our daily or weekly weight training. The key is to maximize the space you have available to you and then commit to the time and equipment available.

Smith Machine


How you fill that space determines the kind of workout and the amount and types of equipment you need. If you have a lot of room then put in the equipment you really want. That could mean a Smith Machine, a weight machine, a weight bench with leg equipment, dumbbells, barbells or preacher curl attachments. But even if you have all the best weightlifting toys or just a few dumbbells, you can still get an excellent workout leading to your best look.

What level of workout can dumbbells provide? I still use dumbbells in my weekly workout. Dumbbells provide an opportunity to work all the muscles in your arms, legs, and chest. When you are using the Smith machine you may not utilize all the muscles that will be utilized when

Dumbbells ranging from 8 pounds to 50 pounds
getting the workout with free weights. Plus, dumbbells can be easily moved and do not require the space that a Smith Machine requires. What size dumbbells should you use? You need to use dumbbells that meet your fitness level. A first time weightlifter does not require huge dumbbells. That's another strong benefit for having dumbbells. You can start small. I started with 8 pounders and now have a couple of 50 pound dumbbells and a whole range of weights in between these two extremes. Exercises for aerobic benefits will require small weights. Building muscle mass requires heavier weights. Mary likes the smaller weights as she looks to tone her body and does not want to come off looking like a huge bodybuilder.

Other Equipment

You don't have to settle for just Smith Machines and dumbbells. There is a wide range of equipment that will help you develop your biceps, triceps, abdominals and latissimus dorsi. Recently I purchased Body by Jake's, Tower of Power. I use it primarily for warmups. To get into the groove of lifting, I will start out with situps, pushups, leg lifts, tricep parallel dips, pullups and lat pull ups.

You can use this equipment for a complete workout, not just to warmup. You say you don't have much space. The Tower of Power fits in a small corner of your room, yet it works all your major muscle groups except the legs. Add a barbell or dumbbells and you have the weight workout you need powered by your own weight.

Body By Jakes, Tower of Power, a complete gym in a small package.

If you go to your local gym or health club, you are going to find many pieces of equipment that are specialized to specific parts of your body. This article won't be covering all the health club equipment. If you watch TV, you have seen the infomercials that attempt to sell you Bun and Thigh machines and Ab Crunchers and everything in between. Those machines may or may not be effective, I have never tried them. Free weights have proven their effectiveness over the years, as have Smith Machines and any equipment where you are using your full body weight as the resistance. There are many home "weight machines" that are also fully effective in building strength and muscle mass.

Weight Bench

A weight bench with an adjustable incline or decline and leg equipment..
The next standard piece of equipment you may want is the weight bench. This is the bodybuilder's toolbox of power. This is where you build the chest with massive weights while doing the bench press. You work on your butterflyes. Some benches have preacher curl attachments to enhance your biceps. Benches today have exceptional engineering allowing you to adjust the bench for an incline workout or a decline bench to truly carve your body. My bench has attachments for leg lifts and leg extensions. Now I use mine with the Smith Machine and with free weight dumbbells and even a free weight barbell at times. It definitely gives a wide range of exercises. You can even do parallel dips off the side of the bench. The versatility of the machine is what has made the weight bench a favorite of the serious lifter for years.

There you have it, the equipment for the home of the weightlifter. Whether you lift to be a bodybuilder, maintain strength or to cross train, the equipment highlighted here can help you reach your weight training goals. No longer do you have to go to Sears and pickup a 20# barbell and a couple of 10# sand filled weights. You can have in your home a workout room to rival a health club for a relatively small price. We have highlighted the Smith Machine, weight bench, multiple exercise Tower of Power and the versatile dumbbells. Start today to build your own workout room.

Happy lifting.

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