Building muscle and gaining strength requires dedication, hard work, and the right equipment. Having the proper tools for your strength training workouts can help you maximise your muscle growth and reach your fitness goals faster. Here are 7 must-have strength equipments that are essential for effective strength training:
The barbell is a staple in any strength training routine. It allows you to safely perform compound exercises like squats, deadlifts, bench press, overhead press, rows etc. Barbells come in varying weights and can be used with weight plates to adjust the resistance as you get stronger. They provide enough load to challenge your muscles for maximal strength and size gains. Make sure to get an Olympic barbell that can hold a lot of weight.
- Power Towers -
Power Tower allow vertical knee raises, leg raises, and can hold dip bars for combining ab work and dips. Hit abs safely.
- Weight Plates
Bumper plates or iron plates are essential for adding weight to your barbell and taking your strength numbers up. Get weight plates in small increments like 2.5 lbs and 5 lbs so you can gradually progress by adding small amounts of weight. Bumper plates have a rubber coating around the iron plate so they can be safely dropped during Olympic lifts. Make sure the total weight plates are enough to challenge you for 3-5 years at least.
- Squat Rack
A squat rack/power cage is vital equipment that allows you to safely perform squats with a barbell as well as bench presses without needing a spotter. It has adjustable catch bars to catch the bar if you fail on a lift. It also gives you a place to store the bar at shoulder height for easy loading and unloading. Squat racks are a big investment but worth every penny for the safety and convenience they provide.
- Flat Bench
The standard flat bench is necessary for barbell bench pressing - one of the best exercises for building a big chest. It also allows you to do bent over rows, shoulder presses, incline dumbbell presses, and various other moves. Look for an adjustable bench that can incline or decline to change the angle of presses. Get a sturdy one with a tough pad that can handle heavy weight loads.
- Pull Up Bar
A pull-up bar gives you the perfect tool to perform bodyweight back and arm exercises. Pull-ups and chin-ups are exceptional for building a strong, muscular back. Hanging leg raises target the abs. Look for a multi-grip pull-up bar so you can vary your hand position. Doorway mounted bars are fine to start but get a stand-alone pull-up station for greater stability as you progress.
- Resistance Bands
Resistance bands are affordable, portable accessories that add extra loading options to your workouts. You can do banded squats, banded presses, hip thrusts, and more. They help increase strength through constant tension. Bands come in varied resistance levels. Get a full set so you can progress from light to extremely heavy resistance bands as you get stronger.
What equipment is required for strength training?
The basic equipment needed for strength training includes:
Targeting and strengthening the abdominal muscles is a key focus for many exercise routines. Using abdominal equipment can enhance abdominal training and provide added resistance to get a more intense workout.
Weight benches allow you to perform seated crunches and weighted crunch variations with back support. Adjustable benches can change angles to hit different areas.
These combine cables, pulleys, weight stacks and more to enable endless ab exercises. Hit obliques with rotations, upper abs with crunch attachments and more.
Though not abdominal specific, leg raise attachments on leg machines effectively work lower abs by lifting legs vertically.
Add resistance by holding dumbbells or kettlebells during floor crunches. Or do woodchopper rotations with weights to obliques.
What is the most effective workout for strength?
The most effective strength training workout focuses on heavy compound exercises using barbells and dumbbells. These full-body moves like deadlifts, squats, bench press, and overhead press use multiple large muscle groups at once. This builds greater overall power and muscle mass than isolation moves.
An ideal beginner strength program is full-body 3 days per week - hitting each muscle group every session. Do 3-4 compound lifts per workout like:
- Bench Press
- Bent Over Rows
- Overhead Press
Keep the reps in the 1-5 range on core lifts. Follow with some higher rep (8-12) isolation exercises like bicep curls or tricep extensions. Progress by adding small amounts of weight each session. Rest at least a day between workouts.
Eat sufficient protein - about 0.5-1 gram per pound of bodyweight daily. Get enough calories to recover from your intense training sessions. Be patient and consistent and your strength will skyrocket!
What is the purpose of strength machines?
Though free weights like barbells and dumbbells are the foundation for building muscle and strength, strength machines can serve as a valuable complement in a training program. Here are some of their key purposes:
- Isolation: Machines allow you to isolate individual muscles. For example leg extensions target just the quads. This can help add focused development in lagging muscle groups.
- Fixed motion: The fixed movement pattern of machines enables you to safely go heavy on certain exercises you may struggle with using free weights. For example leg press instead of potentially risky heavy squats.
- Progressive overload: Machines allow tiny increments of weight increases as you get stronger. This helps apply the key driver of muscle growth - progressive overload.
- Injury recovery: Strength machines maintain proper form and loading during rehab from injuries. They prevent using stabiliser muscles so you can just focus on the target areas.
- Time efficiency: Machines speed up your workout by allowing faster plate loading and setup between sets. Multi-station cable machines allow quickly moving from one exercise to the next.
So while machines shouldn't replace heavy compound lifts with free weights, they can provide injury-free gains in muscle definition and size if wisely incorporated into your regimen.
Q: What if I'm training from home without access to machines?
A: You can build a highly effective strength training program with just free weights like barbells, dumbbells, and resistance bands, along with bodyweight exercises. Focus on mastering key compound lifts and train with enough volume and intensity.
Q: Is a spotter required for strength training?
A: For heavy barbell exercises like bench pressing, a spotter is recommended for safety so they can help lift the weight if you fail on a rep. But a power rack with catch bars allows you to bench safely without a spotter.
Q: How much rest is required between sets?
A: Rest periods of 2-5 minutes between heavy strength sets allows full recovery so you can maximise your next set. Take shorter 1-2 minute rests between lighter isolation lift sets.
Q: What muscles do deadlifts work?
A: Deadlifts work your entire back from lower to upper. They also heavily recruit the glutes, quads, hamstrings, core, forearms and grip muscles for a true full body lift.
Q: Should I do cardio to build muscle?
A: Strength training is key for muscle building. But 2-3 days a week of light-moderate cardio helps improve heart health, conditioning, recovery and can augment muscle gains by improving blood flow.
In summary, there are essential pieces of strength training equipment that are must-haves if you want to maximise your muscle building results. Equip your home gym with at least a barbell, dumbbells, squat rack, bench, and pull-up bar. Round out with bands and machines as budget allows. Focus on core compound lifts and train hard consistently to see your strength and physique reach new levels!