No free space? Don’t know how to use free weights? No problem!
Our guide on the best products and how to use free weights for a workout in your home will set you on the right track.
Any heavy objects used during a workout that aren’t attached to equipment are considered free weights, however, we will go through the best products in case you don’t want to use soup cans or water bottles. Most commonly, dumbbells, barbells, or kettlebells are used as free weights and their ergonomic design makes them safe and easy to use.
Free weights are a great asset to any home gym set up, so if you’re thinking of creating a convenient workout space then consider these products to allow you to build muscle and burn fat with one simple piece of equipment.
See our companion article with relevant video links here.
Dumbbells are the most popular free weight for home use because of how versatile and easy to store they are. They are great for all levels of ability as you can tailor the weight to suit your needs as well as being comparatively inexpensive.
Best under 150
If you are looking to take your strength training to the next level, then a barbell is a great, albeit expensive, piece of equipment. With a barbell, compound exercises like presses, squats, and deadlifts can be performed with heavier weights. We’ve taken a look at the best barbells to get you started. Be aware that you will most likely need more equipment to perform heavier lifts such as extra plates or a squat rack.
Kettlebells are a versatile piece of free weight equipment that is great for both strength training and fat burning exercises. They are also easy to store which makes them perfect for a home gym space.
Why Free Weights?
- Strength gains are a primary advantage of using free weights. By challenging the targeted muscles you’ll improve your strength.
- With equipment that isn’t fixed to a machine, you’ll be able to address any muscle imbalance that can develop from using machines. The technique for lifting free weights also helps develop muscle control which gives you functional strength.
- Functional fitness makes everyday tasks easier. Whether it’s picking up a shopping bag or moving the furniture, the movements in free weight exercises often mimic everyday tasks to make your life easier.
- You’ll also avoid injuries such as muscle pulls or strains, not only day to day but in the gym with other exercises. Muscle stability is important for avoiding injury and comes as a direct result of using free weights.
- Range of motion refers to the extent of the movement of a particular exercise. When using free weights, you can achieve maximum range of motion and as a result develop flexibility and strength.
- Finally, from a cost perspective, free weights are inexpensive compared to other exercise equipment. This makes them a particularly attractive option for those who do home workouts. You can get a versatile product for a reasonable price and give yourself the opportunity for a thorough workout across all your muscle groups.
How to Use Free Weights at Home
Given that free weights are such a versatile piece of equipment for exercising, you can use them at home in much the same way you would at the gym. With that being said, you need to:
- pick the right weight
- give yourself enough space
- always check your form
It might sound obvious, but choosing the right weight is crucially important and will directly impact the quality of your workouts. Whether you are using household items, dumbbells or kettlebells, pick a weight that is challenging but manageable. A dumbbell that is too heavy can put you at risk of injury so start with a lower weight and progress gradually.
When using free weights at home, you should be a little more mindful of space. If you can use an outdoor area, this freedom will help you feel confident with dynamic exercises like kettlebell swings, without the fear of damaging a wall or any furniture. If you are exercising inside, then pick a room with enough space to move around and one that is preferably carpeted as tiles and wood can be damaged by your equipment.
With any kind of weightlifting its imperative that you check your form. Form refers to the correct, safe, and most effective movement during weightlifting. The correct form will protect you from injury and allow you to target specific muscle groups in any given exercise. The best way to develop good form is to take advice from qualified and experienced weightlifters and then practice the correct movement with lighter weights. As you feel more confident you can start to lift heavier without risking your safety or health.
Form should be monitored regularly. At home, use a mirror or a friend to check you are still performing the exercise properly. If you notice bad habits beginning to creep in, then lower the weight until you nail the correct form once again.
How to Use Free Weights for Beginners
As a beginner, don’t be afraid to ask for help. If you’re starting out at home, then there is some great advice and information online to help you get you started. Online personal trainers and workout guides are great resources to help set you out on the right track with your weightlifting goals. Ask specific questions to get tailored information about how much weight you should be using and what exercises will help you reach your goals.
A great way to build your confidence and to promote safe practices is to start out using free weights with a friend or family member. Weightlifting can be a daunting activity to take on alone, especially when you are just starting out. ‘Spotting’ is when another individual supports you in a particular lift. In the interest of safety, the ‘spotter’ is ready to help you lift the weight if fatigue sets in.
So now you’ve got all the information you need, a friend to help you, and something to lift, it’s now time to pick an exercise. For beginners it’s good to start out with compound exercises, which use a number of different muscles to perform the lift as opposed to isolation exercises that focus predominantly on one muscle. Start with deadlifts, presses, and squats to build a good platform and develop good form, you’ll reduce your chance of injury and progress more easily in the long run.