The best exercises are the ones that improve your performance outside of the gym. Those exercises, are what trainers call ”functional”, and they require free weights. Free weights allow your body to move throughout all three planes of motion, so that you move throughout space like you would in normal life.
Free weights, unlike machines, aren’t fixed to certain path, that means you don’t just have to push or pull in one direction. That’s a good thing because your body has to work to support the weight and control the movement, your large muscles, stabilizer muscles, and core all work together to control your movements. So with every rep, you’re strengthening way more than one muscle, thus you burn more calories. Think about a squat to overhead press: By hitting your legs, core, arms, and shoulders, the move sends your calorie burn through the roof.
Free Weight Advantages
- Free weight exercises are more closely matched to the natural movements of your muscles and joints
- Free weights help improve your overall balance and coordination
- You can perform a wider variety of exercises with free weights, e.g. with a simple set of adjustable of fixed dumbbells or an Olympic or standard barbell set you can perform hundreds of exercises, whereas you are limited to the amount of exercises that can be performed when using a smith machine for example
- The costs of weights are inexpensive, they are also portable and use little space in comparison to strength training machines
Using free weights such as dumbbells or kettlebells incorporate the stabilising muscles that enable you to perform the exercise movement. Using stabilising muscles to lift weights will make you more effective in producing overall muscular strength and power.
Dumbbells and Kettlebells
Dumbbells: Sometimes referred to as hand weights, dumbbells have a weight plate attached at each end of a dumbbell bar. Dumbbells are great for the strength trainer who is conscious of workout time and also has the available space. A full set of dumbbells will allow you to quickly and easily transition between dumbbells.
Kettlebells: A kettlebell is a cast iron/rubber encased ball shaped weight with a handle attached. Kettlebells offer a variety of strength training and endurance workouts for minimal cost. They also take up minimal space, making them ideal for everyone. Some of the newer kettlebells have adjustable weight stacks. Kettlebells typically increment in 2kg steps, starting at 2kg going up to 40kg.
Free weights are arguably the most versatile workout tool ever. All you need are the weights and a few square feet of empty space, and you perform hundreds, if not thousands of exercises to strengthen every muscle in your body.