If there’s one thing you can do to improve your overall health, weightlifting should be on top of your list. It involves moving one or more groups of muscles to perform a task, such as squatting, pressing, or deadlifting.
Weightlifting has become fundamental to most workout programs—thanks to the growing amount of evidence supporting its myriad benefits.
First, weightlifting can make you stronger. With this, it’ll be easy to perform daily tasks, such as lifting groceries or playing with kids. The exercise can also improve performance in activities requiring speed and power by preserving muscle mass.
Second, weightlifting helps burn calories. Building muscle boosts your metabolic rate, helping you burn extra calories even at rest—recomposition or burning fat while gaining muscle. This increase in metabolic activity may last up to 72 hours after your workout.
However, going to the gym isn’t possible for everybody – especially for beginners like you. In that case, you should consider building your own home gym, which we’ve discussed frequently on this blog as a must-have alternative if commercial gyms aren’t available where you live.
Building a home gym requires weightlifting gear and equipment that targets every muscle group in the body. To get you started, here’s a list of essential equipment that can help you build and maintain muscle mass:
Dumbbells (DB) are a staple in most gyms, ranging from five to 100 pounds. You can buy a set of each weight level or invest in an adjustable dumbbell set if you don’t have the space for a whole rack’s worth.
When used correctly, they can target every muscle group in your body, from your chest to your legs, making them a true swiss-army knife piece of equipment.
Furthermore, dumbbells are good for your joints because they prevent your hands from being locked in a fixed position, allowing your body to move naturally.
Here are some dumbbell exercises you can try at home:
- For Chest Muscle Activation: standard dumbbell bench press, incline dumbbell bench press, and dumbbell fly;
- For Arm Muscle Activation: concentrated curls (biceps) and lying dumbbell triceps extensions (triceps);
- For Leg Muscle Activation: Bulgarian split squat, walking dumbbell lunges, and Romanian deadlift; and
- For Shoulder Muscle Activation: dumbbell shoulder press, Arnold press, and dumbbell lateral raises.
Before you perform these exercises, study the proper techniques to prevent injuries and promote muscle growth, and set aside your ego. This means don’t try lifting something you can’t lift; otherwise, you increase the risk of getting injured.
A weightlifting belt has two primary functions: reduce the stress on the lower back while lifting upright and prevent back overextension while performing overhead lifts.
In addition, a weightlifting belt helps you be more aware of your back. The physical sensation enables you to be more considerate when it comes to positions that may involve your back, such as deadlifts, squats, and overhead presses.
To learn more about wearing a weightlifting belt for maximum muscle activation, consult a professional strength trainer or find out here.
A training bench is essential when performing exercises like chest presses and skull crushers. When you buy one, make sure that its backrest can be adjusted. This way, you can move it from a flat to an incline position and vice versa.
If you want to build a simple home gym, one training bench might be enough. You might need another one if you want a personal training studio.
With a training bench, you can target various muscle groups. Here are some moves you can try for a full-body workout routine:
- Incline dumbbell press;
- Incline dumbbell fly;
- Bulgarian split squat;
- Flutter kicks; and the like.
Barbells aren’t just for powerlifters and bodybuilders; recreational lifters who want to gain muscle and strength can use barbells too. They’re essential for compound exercises, such as deadlifts, squats, and chest presses.
In addition, barbells enable you to go further than dumbbells because you can add as much weight as you want. But before you do so, make sure to figure the weight of the barbell into your calculation, which can weigh around 40 pounds.
Here are some moves you can try with a barbell:
- Chest press;
- Barbell front and back squat;
- Barbell shoulder press;
- Hip thrust;
- Deadlift; and so on.
When you buy a barbell, look for sets that include a few plates of varying weights. This can help you save a lot since purchasing them individually tends to be more expensive.
Kettlebells are a great alternative to dumbbells, but note that they target slightly different muscle groups, especially the core. Although they’re not superior to dumbbells, they’re still worth adding to your personal training studio.
Here are some kettlebell workout exercises you can try:
- Kettlebell single-deadlift;
- Kettlebell Bulgarian split squat;
- Kettlebell swings;
- Kettlebell windmills; and others.
Like dumbbells, kettlebells come in various weights and sizes.
Resistance bands resemble giant rubber bands. But despite their appearance, they’re effective in targeting and activating multiple muscle groups, such as shoulders, biceps, triceps, and forearms.
The primary function of resistance bands is to create resistance left and right, forcing the body to be as stable as possible when moving. On top of that, resistance bands are joint-friendly and low-impact, relying on body weight.
Resistance bands come in various levels, lengths, colors, and styles, from standard to tube and closed-looped bands. They’re perfect for squats, lateral band walks, bicep curls, and overhead presses.
If you’re willing to spend a couple of grand for your personal gym space, make sure to include cable machines on your list.
A cable machine is a large structure with stacks of weight on its side and a grip that can be raised and lowered depending on the workout you want to perform. It comes with a range of attachments that you can clip to the grip, such as:
- Lat Bar: This attachment targets the lats or the big chunk muscle on your back. It has two grips: a wide grip (for maximum muscle activation) and a close grip.
- Triceps Ropes And Bars: As the name implies, these attachments are designed to target your triceps or the three-headed muscle group on your arm.
- Curl Bars: These come in a straight and wavy design like an EZ bar, which relieves the pressure on your elbows and wrists, as it requires less supination.
- Hand Grip: This is arguably the most versatile attachment, targeting multiple muscle groups such as angled lateral raises for building boulder shoulders.
- Row Handles: Also known as the V-grip handle, row handles can activate your lower back muscles. A popular exercise using this attachment is the seated cable row.
A cable machine alone can help you gain muscle and strength, but that doesn’t mean it can replace the benefits of other weightlifting equipment like dumbbells.
Weightlifting is an effective way to increase muscle mass, lose extra pounds, improve strength, and other health benefits. Nevertheless, gym anxiety might prevent you from weightlifting. Build your own personal training space with the weightlifting gear and equipment discussed above (in addition to a few others if you’re an advanced lifter). But before you get started, make sure to learn the proper techniques to prevent injuries and ensure maximum muscle activation for growth.