Proper equipment is the key phrase to remember when weight training. At any gym, according to Perry Adam Lieber, a personal trainer based out of Santa Barbara, CA, you will see people using improper or inadequate equipment. This may be due to the owners’ negligence, but it is more likely because most people don’t know how important it is to have quality workout tools.
Here are some examples of proper and improper weightlifting accouterments:
Make Sure Equipment Is Sturdy
If your bench press bar catches on the upstroke (right before you press upwards), according to Perry Adam Lieber, then you should either get a new bench or build one that doesn’t flex like this. A functional power rack should be able to sustain heavy presses without flexing.
Using flimsy dumbbells for lateral raises would be like trying to cut down trees with toothpicks. Investing in some nice, sturdy dumbbells ensures that you get the most out of your workout—and prevent injuries.
Don’t Use Things That Aren’t Required
Using a weight belt for exercises where it is not appropriate will slow down your progress by acting as a brace that prevents your lower back from stabilizing. Using an inappropriate belt can also lead to overcompensation with other muscles to compensate for the weaker ones supported by the belt, thus creating disproportion between muscle groups.
Suppose you are doing something like barbell curls while standing on top of a BOSU ball (a product supposed to improve stability and balance). In that case, according to Perry Adam Lieber, you are probably wasting time because you do not have proper stability or balance. When training, focus on the quality of each movement rather than just how “shocking” or impressive it is. The whole point of weight training is to develop strength and stability, not to wow the crowd with circus acts.
Varying Things Lead To Gains
This does not mean that simple variations on exercises do not have a place in a routine—they can be quite helpful if done correctly—but gimmicky devices, according to Perry Adam Lieber, should only be used as a last resort. Before you spend hundreds or thousands of dollars on equipment, remember: you can achieve results without using anything but good old-fashioned weights, dumbbells, barbells, and your bodyweight.
Do not waste time finding shortcuts when weight training; focus instead on getting the most out of proper weightlifting tools, learning what works best for your body, and making each rep count.
If you want to kick your weight training into high gear, then here are six benefits you should be aware of in using proper equipment.
Controlling Mechanical Overload And Path Of Motion
Using a power rack with safety pins will allow you to control mechanical overload and path of motion. This means that if your strength falls off due to fatigue, the safety pins catch the weight. Therefore it does not crash on top of you or get stuck on the way down. A barbell is usually too heavy for this purpose unless you are using extremely light poundage.
Placing Resistance Properly
A barbell allows you to place the resistance in the most efficient way for your body in terms of leverage. For example, in the case of squats, the best placement allows a person to assume a deep squat position directly over the “center of mass.” As opposed to standing apart from where they should be so that they can get away with using their legs and not their hips, lower back, and other stabilizing muscles.
Creating Metabolic Overload
If you want to get ripped, you need to create metabolic overload by performing an exercise at a high volume and intensity. This allows the body to metabolize fat for energy rather than just burning up carbs as fuel—and it can be done without any equipment.
Time Efficient Circuit Training
All you need to do a simple time efficient circuit training routine without any equipment is a towel and a chair. With this method, you hold the towel in both hands and continuously perform “towel curls” or other movements that use your arms until they are exhausted.
If you want to develop lean muscle mass as fast as possible without putting on extra body fat, nothing beats effective calisthenics. Muscle burns calories at rest, so building more of it means eating more without gaining any additional weight—as long as those calories consist of healthy foods like whole grains and fruits and vegetables instead of sugars and unhealthy fats.
Focus On Developing Certain Muscles
With weight training, you can emphasize certain muscles to be more pronounced than others—without changing your natural form. For instance, standing on the ball of one leg while performing a bicep curl is an unstable position that would be difficult to maintain without any equipment whatsoever. However, it does allow for greater stress on the muscle group being trained.
Lifting weights allows you to place tension on specific areas of the body to achieve aesthetic results not achievable with calisthenics alone—the whole idea behind the gym is to work with machines or free weights instead of just your muscles because muscles are meant to work together as a unit rather than individually.
The use of lifting straps will allow you to reduce the risk of damage even with extremely heavy weights because it frees your hands so that they do not tire out and become unable to hold onto the weight. However, if you use them incorrectly (i.e., looping the strap around the weight to dig into your wrist), this will increase the risk of injury instead, especially if the weight is dropped on top of you.
While you will not need any equipment whatsoever to get ripped, the fact of the matter is that most people prefer to use it because they find it more aesthetically pleasing and can achieve results much more quickly. If you fit into this category, you should consider paying a small fee for a gym membership. Just be sure that if you go at least twice per week—and make sure your form is correct on every exercise before increasing resistance. Proper equipment will only allow for significant physical transformation within a few months if you stick with it.