What Are the Different Types of Resistance Training Equipment?

D. Messmer

There are many types of resistance training equipment, and each has its own advantages and disadvantages. Some are more appropriate for home gyms, and others are better suited for public gyms. The biggest difference between the many types of resistance training equipment is the means by which they provide the resistance that is crucial to effective resistance training. The different types of resistance training equipment include free weights, weight machines and resistance bands or tubes.

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

The most common form of resistance equipment is free weights. This kind of weight training equipment consists of some combination of dumbbells, barbells and weight benches and racks. Sometimes the dumbbells have adjustable amounts of weight, but it is more common for each dumbbell to be a fixed amount of weight, thus potentially requiring a large collection of them to allow an athlete to perform a wide array of exercises.

Barbells are a popular type of training equipment.
Barbells are a popular type of training equipment.

Free weights have several distinct advantages and disadvantages. They are very effective for resistance training because, as their name implies, the weights are not attached to anything. This means that the athlete must balance the weight as he or she performs a lift, and this balance engages the body's stabilizer muscles. As a result, free weights provide a high-intensity workout that helps to build muscle. It can be difficult to get free weights into the proper position, though, especially when performing high-weight exercises, such as squats. As a result, free weights require a lot of equipment, from the weights themselves to the necessary benches and racks.

Dumbbells are commonly used by athletes for resistance training.
Dumbbells are commonly used by athletes for resistance training.

By contrast, resistance bands and resistance tubes are a form of resistance training equipment that requires far less equipment and can be much easier to use for a variety of exercises. Rather than requiring an extensive amount of equipment, resistance bands and tubes can provide athletes with a variety of different levels of resistance simply by shortening or lengthening the band or adjusting the tube. Also, an athlete can reposition a single band or tube in a variety of ways in order to perform different lifts. The biggest drawback to resistance bands is that they generally cannot provide the high levels of resistance that free weights can provide. Also, because the bands must stretch in order to provide the resistance, there are some angles of resistance that bands cannot provide, so the scope of exercises can be a little bit limited.

Exercise bands are a versatile type of resistance training equipment.
Exercise bands are a versatile type of resistance training equipment.

Another common form of resistance training equipment is weight machines. This form of weight training equipment can provide the same high levels of weight that free weights provide, and it tends to help athletes maintain proper form during the different lifts. The drawback to weight machines is that each machine usually can allow an athlete to perform only one or two exercises. To get a full workout, an athlete would need access to a large number of machines, which makes them ill-suited for most home gyms.

Dumbbells can help improve balance as well as increase strength when used for weight lifting.
Dumbbells can help improve balance as well as increase strength when used for weight lifting.
Various types of weight machines offer resistance training.
Various types of weight machines offer resistance training.
Core strength exercises are often done using body weight for resistance.
Core strength exercises are often done using body weight for resistance.
A power twister is a useful upper body strengthening tool.
A power twister is a useful upper body strengthening tool.

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