What is Free Weight Training?
What Are Free Weights?
At first thought, you might imagine a free weight as being one of the weighted dumbbells stacked in front of your gym’s mirrors—and you would be correct! One thing that may surprise you, though, is that free weights stretch far beyond those confines to cater to its broader definition: a weight used in weightlifting that is not attached to another apparatus. That means that kettlebells, medicine balls, and, of course, barbells are also free weights. Free weights offer you tons of versatility in your workout and can fit almost anywhere, which means you could purchase a set to use on those days where you just don’t feel like coming to the gym (we all have them).
Why Free Weights?
If you have not attempted a lunge while holding free weights before, try it on your next visit to the gym. And if you have attempted weighted lunges, you probably remember how surprisingly wobbly you were when you first stepped your foot forward. That is because free weights force you to use your core for stabilization with every move. And if you are someone who is used to working with machines, or has never weight lifted before, you may not be used to that feeling. This focus on the core is why we love to love free weights. Stabilizing your core is essential for several reasons, not only will it help you to look more toned in the mid-section, but, more importantly, it will help to give you better balance which is vitally important as we age—and we all will age. When you perform an exercise like weighted lunges, you are also using your quadriceps, hamstrings, and glutes, busting through multiple muscle groups at once.
And while all of that is amazing, the other thing you are achieving is stronger functional movement. Meaning that walking and running are mimicked during a lunge, so building those muscles up will help you in everyday life. As another example, squats will help you to get in and out of the seated position easier as you get stronger. These little movements are taken for granted until our strength is lost. So, make sure that you are building strength with functional movements on a regular basis. Free weights allow for this sort of freedom with every workout, making them highly effective to use in your training sessions.
Free Weight Strength Training
When you are stronger, day to day tasks are easier. Things that you may not think about like opening a jar of peanut butter, or carrying groceries up a flight of stairs will suddenly be done with ease if you focus your fitness goal on muscle building. And, to top it off, you will get more toned because building strength burns fat. Strength training is a win/win any way that you look at it. A great way to get started is with free weight strength training.
If you have never picked up a weight before, starting with the dumbbells might be the best bet for you. Start with a light weight, and move up if it feels too easy. The great thing about dumbbells is, they can be found in every gym, and can even be purchased for at-home use. Over time, as you get stronger, you can start to add medicine balls, kettlebells, and heavier dumbbells and barbells to your gym routine.
Tips For Free Weight Training
The one thing you should know when working with free weights (or during any workout for that matter) is that form matters. Like, really, really matters. Simple mistakes made in free weight strength training could be the difference between working out your biceps and working out your shoulders. So, it is essential to ask for help or research form on the workouts that you are completing. Sometimes to achieve the best form for your exercise, you are going to need to take that ego and set it aside. If you have been completing barbell curls incorrectly for years, you may have developed strong muscles in your traps and delts that can sustain a lot of weight, but, when you realize that adjustments need to be made in terms of form, that exercise may get harder for you. Put down the heavy barbell, and pick up something lighter. You will not get the results you want by completing an exercise with improper form, and you could injure yourself, so allow yourself to use lighter weight and work your way back up. You can think of it as a built-in goal! If you were previously curling 60 pounds but needed to move down to 40 when you learned proper form, make it your goal to get back to 60 pounds with form in mind!
All in all, free weight training is beneficial for your overall health. If you are new to the gym, start slow. Figure out which exercises to do by utilizing the strength machines which will help you to learn proper form. As you get comfortable, do your research, take a class like BODYPUMP, or find a workout buddy to work on free weight strength training with you.
Are you interested in trying out free weight training? Check out a club near you!