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Strength Training Equipment

Learn about the best equipment for strength training

Are you looking to bulk up, or to simply increase your lean muscle mass to burn fat and calories? If so, you'll need some strength training equipment. There are several options available for this, and what you use mainly depends on the kind of results you're looking to achieve.

While it's true that many exercises can be done using nothing but your own body weight (push-ups, chin-ups, crunches), some will need some kind of commercial strength training equipment, whether that means a universal machine or a set of barbells and dumbbells. If you're unsure as to what to buy, why not try out some equipment in a weight training class at your local gym? You're bound to find a strength training machine you like.

All-Around Athlete

If you want a full-body workout that will leave you strong but also nimble, you'll want to invest in weight training equipment that challenges you to perform many repetitive motions without straining your muscles too much. You'll want an exercise ball, dumbbells and perhaps a medicine ball, plus you should also leave yourself lots of room to maneuver.

Bodybuilder

If you're looking for more demanding strength training, you'll need to increase the weight and adjust the equipment you'll use. You can still use dumbbells, and it's always a good idea to activate your abdominals, no matter what your goals are, but those interested in really bulking up may need to take more drastic action. Focus on heavier weight with fewer reps to build muscle, and lift until you can't lift anymore (also known as "failure"). This doesn't mean go ahead and injure yourself, but if you feel you can't lift any further in that set of reps, stop.

Here are some useful exercises for putting on muscle mass:

  • Push-ups. Push-ups build your arms, chest and back muscles, making them one of the simplest and yet dynamic workouts available. Start by doing as many push-ups as you can without straining your arms or back. Progress by adding a few more reps, 2 to 5, each day.
  • Squats. Lift each dumbbell over your shoulder and squat down, then rise up again. Repeat 10 to 15 times, or as many as you can handle at that weight. You can also use a barbell across your shoulders.
  • Pull-downs. Adjust your grip width so that it's comfortable and you're not overreaching. At first, use a weight that you find challenging but not overly difficult, then add weight as you build up your strength. Pull-downs help build muscles in your back and shoulders.
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