As a new gym goer, one of the biggest challenges you might have to face is becoming familiar with the names of weights that you use there. Yes, understanding those gym terms can be a little bit challenging.
But more than that, you ought to learn about different kinds of free weights, as each of them have their own advantages on your strength, stability, and stamina. So, you should learn how to use them properly in order to make great progress in your fitness journey.
Through this article, we will be introducing to you all the different kinds of free weights that gyms have. So, read along!
How Many Different Types of Weights Are There?
Well, we are currently seeing new and new innovations in the fitness world, and as a result, newer types of weight are being introduced in the market.
However, there are 11 different types of weights that are currently available in most gyms. That includes popular weights like Dumbbells and barbells along with lesser known ones like Sandbells.
11 Types of Free Weights
Here are the 11 most popular types of free weights, what exercises you can do with them, and what makes them great, as well as their notable drawbacks.
If you are a complete beginner, or even not started yet on your fitness journey, ‘dumbbells’ would be definitely one of the very few gym terms that you are familiar with. They are indeed one of the most popular pieces of gym equipment.
Dumbbells are nothing but those beautiful things that have short bars with weights on both sides. The length of a dumbbell comes somewhere between 10 inches and 15 inches, depending on weight, brand, and material.
The weight of dumbbells can range from as light as 5 pounds to as heavy as 100 pounds. So, dumbbells can basically be your go-to gym equipment when you are just starting weight training.
However, that doesn’t mean they are only for newbies. You can do a wide variety of exercises using dumbbells. Here are some of the most popular workouts using dumbbells for different muscle groups:
Exercises You Can Do With Dumbbells
Biceps Curls (Biceps)
Hammer Curls (Biceps)
Dumbbell Preacher Curls (Biceps)
Single Hand/Double Hand Triceps Extensions (Triceps)
Triceps Kickbacks (Triceps)
Dumbbell Chest Press (Chest)
Dumbbell Flies (Chest)
Dumbbell Press (Shoulders)
Dumbbell Shrugs (Shoulders)
Lateral Raises (Shoulders)
Front Raises (Shoulders)
Arnold Press (Shoulders)
Bend Over Dumbbell Rows (Back)
Dumbbell Squats (Legs)
Lunges and Walking Lunges (Legs)
Those were the major workouts that you can do using only dumbbells. In fact, you can do workouts for almost all your key muscle groups using only dumbbells and no more equipment.
That is also one of the biggest positives of dumbbells among different kinds of weights. Given below are some key reasons that make dumbbells great free weight option:
- As mentioned already, Dumbbells will let you do a wide variety of exercises, making it possible for you to train all your key muscle groups using only them.
- Dumbbells are comparatively cheaper as compared to other types of weights like barbells.
- They are arguably the best equipment for a complete gym beginner to start off, as they come as light as a few pounds. They are also far safer than Olympic bars.
- Dumbbells are easier to store. You can also transport them quickly and easily.
- From the training aspect, dumbbells are great for building balance, stability, and coordination between your arms.
So, those were the key pros of dumbbells as free weights. But that being said, it does have certain drawbacks.
For instance, while they are great for stability and strength to an extent, beyond a limit, they can’t help you improve your strength. For that you will have to go for barbells!
Now that you are familiar with dumbbells, it’s time to learn about barbells. Barbells are basically advanced pieces of weightlifting equipment as compared to dumbbells.
Speaking of what they look like, barbells are usually 2m to 2.2 meters long, with slots at both ends to hold weight plates. Weight plates are another type of weights in the gym about which we will discuss later in this article.
Compared to dumbbells, barbells are more suitable for workouts that require more effort and thereby, will also help you build more strength. While the heaviest weight you can lift using dumbbells comes somewhere around 100 pounds, barbells when combined with weight plates, will let you lift technically beyond any limits.
A barbell usually weighs somewhere around 44 pounds, which can be just enough when you are just starting out. Then, you can increase your lifting weight by adding plates.
Now, speaking of the range of workouts you can do, just like Dumbbells, you can do a number of exercises using barbells as well.
Given below are some of the best exercises that you can do using barbells.
Exercises You Can Do With Barbells
Barbell Chest Press
Incline Chest Press
Decline Chest Press
Barbell Back Squats
Barbell Front Squats
Those were some of the best exercises you can do using barbells, and weight plates in most cases.
All these workouts are great to build strength and while most of these workouts are compound movements (chest press, deadlifts, etc.), barbells will also let you do some isolated movements like barbell curls.
Also, barbells just don’t come only in one shape. In addition to the normal straight barbells including standard bars and Olympic bars, there exists a number of varieties of bars in the gym, such as-
- EZ Bars, which have a w-shaped bend in the middle. Good for workouts like biceps curls
- Trap bars, that have not one but two bars between weight plates, and separate bars to hold them easily; good for workouts like deadlifts
- Swiss Bars, that come with multiple grips between the weights.
- Log bars, which are great for higher weight lifting
Those were some of the variations of barbells that you see in most gyms. Besides these, there are also fixed barbells that come with already attached weights. We will discuss them later in this article.
Barbells are better choices as free weights, because:
- They are highly adjustable; which means there is no limit on how heavier you can lift.
- Great for building strength.
- Once you are ready to lift, barbells are rather easier to work out on, as it doesn’t demand too much effort for stability.
But all that being said, working out with barbells may require more effort from your side regarding safety.
The key takeaway here is that barbells are great for strength building, and you should definitely go for them once you gain some gym experience. But always tag a gym buddy to spot while you are doing certain exercises like bench presses or squats.
Without weight plates, barbells cease to be helpful beyond a certain point. Weight plates are indeed what determine how heavy you lift.
There are basically two types of weight plates. One, standard weight bars that come with a smaller 1-inch diameter hole, enough to fit a standard bar. The other one is Olympic weight plates that are usually bigger and have a bigger 2-inch dia hole to fit Olympic bars.
Although both are technically different, their uses are not differentiated.
Speaking of how to use weight plates for workouts, you can either use them with barbells or even alone. Given below are some of the popular exercises that you can do using weight plates:
Exercises You Can Do With Weight Plates
Front raises (shoulders)
Lateral raises (Shoulders)
Weight Plate Shrugs (Shoulders)
Side Bend (Abs)
Weight Plate Crunches (Abs)
Weight PLate Push Ups (Chest
Those were the exercise you can do using only weight places. But by combining it with barbells, you can do a lot more workouts, or basically any exercise that we’ve mentioned for barbells.
Weight plates are great, because:
- They come in a wide range of weights. The weight of these plates can usually range between 2.5 pounds and 45 pounds. Furthermore, you can always combine multiple weight plates to be as heavy as you want. So, weight plates let you lift with no limits.
- Weight plates are even easier to store. You can place one plate above the other, without consuming a lot of space on the floor.
Now, looking at its cons, the major challenge you face while using weight plates on barbells would be assembling and more than that, disassembling. You might one day be able to bench 225 pounds or squat 450 pounds, but you will have to disassemble all those weight plates after you are done.
But in the end, weight plates are crucial pieces of gym equipment when you are looking to build strength or stability.
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Medicine Balls are nothing but those balls you see in gyms, they also come in different sizes and appearances. Usually, a medicine ball may weigh anywhere between 2 and 25 pounds, and will have a diameter between 14 and 20 inches.
What makes medicine balls unique types of free weights is that they are useful for not only weight training, but also for cardio and refreshment classes.
Given below are some great workouts you can do using medicine balls:
Exercises You Can Do With Medicine Balls
Side To side Slams (Abs)
Ball twists (Abs)
Russian Ball Twists (Abs)
Squat Throws (legs)
Wall Ball (full body, Cardio)
Those were just a few to list. Using your creativity and advice from your trainer, you can do a hell lot of exercises, by yourself or for more entertainment, with your gym partner.
Kettlebells are those (usually) huge iron pieces with a handle on top of it. They are excellent types of free weights to do some dynamic movements. So, you will be seeing them more often at warm-up or cardio points, yet can be used for some weight training movements.
Here are some good exercises that you can do with kettlebells:
Exercises You Can Do With Kettlebells
Kettlebell Chest Press (Chest)
Kettlebell Squats (Legs)
Kettlebell Deadlifts (Back)
Kettlebell Bent Over Rows (Back)
Kettlebell Swings (Whole Body)
What makes Kettlebells attractive is the ease of use. You can just grab them by your arms, not worrying too much about the proper holding techniques.
Fixed Weight Barbell
Earlier, we have seen barbells that are usually long. Fixed weight bars are shorter bars with weight already attached to them.
Given below are some of the most popular workouts that you can do using fixed weight bars:
Exercises You Can Do With Fixed Weight Bars
Biceps Curls (Biceps)
Preacher Curls (Biceps)
Triceps Extensions (Triceps)
Skull Crushers (Triceps)
Most of these workouts are the same as what you would do with dumbbells. But in comparison, using fixed-weight barbells gives you better stability and ease of doing workouts.
Given below are what makes fixed weight bars great:
- Weight is already attached in them, which saves your time
- Easier to access than barbells
- Great for lightweight lifts
But at the same time, a key drawback here is that if you are looking for progressive overloading, fixed bars might not come as that helpful because weights are already loaded.
Clubbells, also known as Indian bells, is a type of workout weight that has been used since centuries ago. They are long, cylindrical weights with an arm holder in the top.
Although clubbells saw a dip in popularity in the last century, they are now regaining popularity. The reason, they are excellent for improving strength, stamina, as well as balance along with hand grip.
Given below are some of the popular workouts done with clubbells:
Exercises You Can Do With Clubbells
Clubbell Reverse Mill
Clubbell Double Mill
Clubbill Single Mill
Clubbell Gamma Cast
Clubbell Clock Squat
Side Push Press
Almost all these exercises are great for your core, shoulders, Arms, chest, and even legs.
Clubbells are also great for improving your grip strength. That may be one reason why they are still being used by wrestlers in Asian countries, like India.
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While Cubbells were traditional types of free weights, sandbags are rather non-conventional types of weights. Thanks to the more adaptive shapes of sandbags, they can be used as alternatives for exercises using barbells, dumbbells, or weight plates.
That means, you can do a wide variety of exercises using them.
The list of exercises that you can do using sandbags include:
Exercises You Can Do With Sandbags
Lunges (forward, reverse, and sideways)
One key advantage of sandbags is that they are highly flexible in terms of the workouts you can do using them.
Also, you can buy sandbags of different sizes and weights. There are sandbags that weigh as light as 5 kilos, as well as those weighing 40 kilos or even more!
Sandbells are basically neoprene discs that have sand inside them. They are highly versatile, and can be easy substitutes for sandbags, weight plates, medicine balls, etc.
Here are some great workouts you can do using sandbells:
Exercises you can do using Sandbells
Bent Over Rows
The weight of Sandbells range from just over 2 pounds to all the way up to 50 pounds. So, you can pick the one that suits you the best, and then start working out with them!
Weighted vests are completely different from other kinds of weights we have discussed above. Rather than holding them, you can just wear the vest, and train against the resistance offered by it.
Some of the workouts you can do using weighted vests include:
Exercises You Can Do Using Weighted Vests
The greatest advantage of weighted vests is that you can just wear them and do some important bodyweight workouts. The weight of these vests can range from 12 pounds all the way up to 150 pounds!
But a key drawback here is that continuous use of weighted vests may affect spine strength and posture. So, try using them only occasionally.
Last but not least, we have weightlifting chains that come as rather rough-looking free weight types. Imagine you are doing triceps dips; while you can not use any other kind of free weights, weightlifting chains might come as a relief.
Given below are some important exercises in which you can use weightlifting chains for extra weight:
Exercises You Can Do Using Weightlifting Chains
Usually, the weights of different weightlifting chains available in the market range between 28 pounds and 60 pounds. That means, they can really add some extra weight to your workout!
However, that also means they are not very good for beginners. You might have seen famous weightlifters like Rock Dwayne Johnson using these chains in their workouts. But you will have to wait till you reach that level of expertise to use them.
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The Bottom Line
Those were the most commonly used free weights in gyms. Now we hope you are less confused about these weight names.
All these free weights have their own uses and benefits. So, try to incorporate exercises using all of them for your overall improvement.