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Guide to strength and weight training equipment
Building out a home gym is much easier to accomplish today thanks to the equipment that's available for spaces of all sizes. Don't let the lack of a home gym be an excuse anymore. You have access to quality weight training and workout equipment, machines and accessories. The tips, advice and ideas here can help you select the ideal options for your home gym.
- Weight plates and sets: There's a whole world of weights, which means it helps to know the differences. For racks, you'll need either Olympic or standard plates for your specific bars. Olympic plates or discs are slightly larger because they have 2-inch-diameter holes for the bars, while standard plates or discs have 1-inch-diameter holes for the barbell to pass through.
- Dumbbells and kettlebells: For free-weight workouts, you'll want a pair of weight- adjustable dumbbells and one or two adjustable kettlebells. Adjustable free weights are space-savers, eliminating the need for multiple pairs of dumbbells or kettlebells.
- Weight benches: A weight bench offers the stability and versatility you need to perform your dumbbell workouts. Decide if you want an adjustable or a flat bench. Choose one with a width and length that fit in your space. Consider how much weight you need it to hold.
- Power weight racks and power towers: Also called a squat rack, this piece of equipment is essential for weight training in any gym that has the room for one. A rack is an important safety tool, especially if you're pressing at home alone. A quality rack is measured in the gauge of its steel (smaller numbers equal thicker steel). It also should have pins, arms and straps to catch dropped bars and weights.
Ab and core toners
- Ab machines: These workout machines are designed to strengthen your abs through various moves. If you're considering an ab machine, decide if you prefer working out your abs on your knees, in a standing or semi-standing position or while sitting up. This information will help you identify the right piece of equipment. Whichever configuration you choose, make certain it's stable with padded ankle rollers, a comfortable padded area for your midsection or padded grab bars to help you focus on sculpting your abs.
- Ab roller wheels: The roller uses the natural weight of your own body to create the workout. Don't be fooled, they're compact but they make you sweat. The thicker the wheel is, the more durable and stable it'll feel. It'll also make your arms spread out farther, which may be a comfort issue. Wheels with spring-loaded rollers helps control the speed of the roll, which makes this option easier for beginners.
- Core toners: Also called an ab coaster or ab dolly, this little piece of equipment is ideal for small spaces because you can roll it away under a bed or in a closet. The toner/dolly eliminates neck and back strain by helping you stabilize one part of your body, engaging your core and letting you perform a perfect plank in the process.
- Sit-up benches: A sit-up bench takes your crunches to the next level. Benches are versatile in their incline options, which allows you to progress from shallow to sharper levels for more difficult workouts. Look for padded foam feet and leg rollers to help you stay in place while crunching. Always consider the maximum amount of weight a sit-up bench holds.
- Ab stimulators and belts: This technique uses electrical muscle stimulation to strengthen your abs. It became popular in the 1960s when athletes began to use it for training and therapeutic purposes. Look for products with customizable intensity levels you can program via your smartphone.
Body press equipment
- Dip stations: For helpful training for upper body strength and killer triceps, go for a dip station, also called a dip bar or dip stand. Look for a solid, sturdy version that's also easy to fold, lock and store in small spaces. Remember to check how much weight the dip station is rated to hold.
- Pull-up bars: A pull-up bar is one of the easiest pieces of equipment to install on a standard doorframe. Pull up-bars do require strength to use. Consider adding one to your home gym after building your strength through dips first. Look for a bar with comfortable, durable non-slip padded grips, and check the measurements to be sure it can fit your doorframe.
Home gym and strength accessories
- Ropes, handles, cables and straps: To get the most from your rack and other home gym machines, you may need to add on or replace cables, rope pulls, handles or straps. Look for thick nylon roping with durable grips.
- Bars: There are various types of bars for your gym. Push-up bars are supports you grip while doing push-ups or planks on the floor. Press or pull-down bars come in various lengths that you can add to your machines.
- Weight training accessories: If you're serious about weight training, you'll want to stay comfortable. Look for accessories such as leather weight gloves with wrist supports, weight belts to support your spine while lifting, padded ankle straps for cable machine workouts, gym chalk for better gripping while lifting weights and barbell pads to protect your body while lifting.