What are Different Types of Weight Lifting Equipment?

T. Broderick

There are many different types of weight lifting equipment. Barbells, dumbbells, and weight machines are standard in most gyms and can be purchased for home use. Lifting straps or weighted clothing provide a more specialized form of weight training that can meet the needs of weight lifters young or old. The variety of exercises weight lifting equipment provides makes them an essential piece of any workout routine.

Some people use free weights.
Some people use free weights.

The barbell is a primary piece of home or gym weight lifting equipment. As some barbells can hold up to 1,000 pounds (about 450 kg) of weight plates, the barbell is a tool both Olympic weightlifters and those just starting out in weight lifting use. The barbell is lifted either when the user is lying on his or her back, known as a bench press, or when standing. Out of all weight lifting equipment, the barbell is the most potentially dangerous. Many gyms require the presence of a spotter when the user is performing a bench press.

Out of all weight lifting equipment, the barbell is the most potentially dangerous.
Out of all weight lifting equipment, the barbell is the most potentially dangerous.

Dumbbells — a short handle supporting two identical weights — come in three types. The first are fixed weight dumbbells. Constructed from either cast iron or concrete-filled plastic, they are nonadjustable. The second type, adjustable dumbbells, have interchangeable plates so the user can either add or subtract weight. Finally, selectorized dumbbells allow the user to add or subtract weight without having to manually remove plates.

While barbells and dumbbells focus exclusively on upper body strength, weight lifting machines give the user the opportunity to improve almost all muscle groups. Most weight lifting machines include a stack of weights the user adjusts by moving a pin into the selected weight. A system of pulleys connects the weights to where the user is exerting force. Most gyms provide a variety of weight lifting machines that users cycle through during a single workout.

Lifting straps, used with both barbells and dumbbells, give the user the benefit of distributing weight more onto the wrists and lessening the importance of grip strength. Weighted clothing, like lifting straps, are a type of weight lifting equipment best suited to those who have just started weight lifting exercises. They are small sacs filled with either metal or sand that the user straps to his or her wrists or ankles. Usually worn under clothing, they gradually build muscle strength as the wearer goes through his or her daily routine. The low impact exercise makes weighted clothing an option for seniors working to maintain muscle mass.

Weight machines are typically made to force the body into the correct lifting position so proper form is kept throughout the exercise.
Weight machines are typically made to force the body into the correct lifting position so proper form is kept throughout the exercise.

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Discussion Comments


@Mykol - It sounds like the elastic band works similarly to the lifting straps. I have never used either, but wonder if people notice much of a difference using the lifting straps.

I can see how they would make your muscles work a little harder, but are they that effective and worth the trouble?

I have a few pieces of home gym fitness equipment, but sadly it just sits there and collects dust. I have a hard time motivating myself to go downstairs and use it.

I am trying to find ways to incorporate fitness into my every day activities instead of setting aside a set number of minutes every day. In the past I have not been very successful at sticking with this.


After I had knee surgery, I was very slow at getting back to a regular exercise routine. I also needed to change the way I did some of my exercises.

When I was working my way back into this, I found that the small weights that you can put around your wrists and ankles were helpful. This added just the right amount of weight while I was walking without being too heavy.

I also like using a stretchy band which is great for toning muscles. I feel it is safer for me to use than weights, yet still gives me the resistance I need. This is like a big rubber band, and it is amazing how effective this simple piece of equipment can be.


I don't use a weight machine when doing my workout routine, but like to add weights to my cardio workout. I have a set of interchangeable dumbbells, but have found this to be too much of a hassle to change them all the time.

Instead of that I use individual, 2, 5 and 10 pound barbells. I will use all of these different weights while I am doing my routine. I also like the barbells that are in bright plastic colors.

When I first started doing this I was using the cast iron dumbbells, but just like the look and feel of the plastic ones better. They do the same job, but I just prefer the bright colors over a drab look.

There is a lot of different fitness equipment out there, but I like to keep it as simple as I can while still getting good results.


When I first started adding weights to my exercise routine, I tried adding weight too quickly. My muscles were so sore that I had to wait several days before I could work out again.

If anyone is just getting started using weight training equipment, I would encourage you to start out slowly and gradually work your way up to more weight.

We have a weight machine at home which makes it easy to adjust the barbells for whatever part of the body you are working. I have much heavier weights on when I am working my leg muscles as I do when I am working my upper arms.

I like that my muscles feel strong and toned after using weights in a regular basis. I am doing this for the sake of my health more than anything else, and find that it gives me more energy and stamina.

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