The different types of muscle exercises, collectively known as strength training, can be classified according to kind of equipment used. Free-weight exercises utilize dumbbells, barbells, or other weighted items. Weight-machine exercises are designed to work specific muscle groups and involve loading weight plates manually or inserting a pin into an attached stack of weights. Resistance-band exercises use rubber bands or tubing to challenge the muscles in two directions at once; body-weight exercises, which may or may not incorporate other types of equipment, involve using one’s own body weight for resistance. Depending on the goal of the exerciser, some muscle exercises may be more beneficial than others.
Free-weight exercises carry numerous advantages, not the least of which is that people who exercise with dumbbells and barbells learn to stabilize their joints and build core strength. Many muscle exercises using free weights require standing or performing body-weight maneuvers, so they are recommended over sitting on machines for individuals trying to lose weight. Free weights are also a good choice for building muscle mass when performing a low number of reps using heavier weights; as a result, they are popular with anyone trying to achieve hypertrophy, or an increase in size.
Machine exercises, on the other hand, are recommended for novice exercisers, highly unfit individuals, and in some cases people recovering from injury. The advantages of using machines are that they take users through a specific range of motion and do not require much joint stabilization, which may prevent inexperienced exercisers from hurting themselves. Muscle exercise with machines also tends to be user-friendly, which may appeal to the beginner who is not knowledgeable in a variety of movements. Additionally, individuals looking to gain mass may incorporate machine exercises into their free-weight workout; once they have fatigued their stabilizer muscles with dumbbell exercises, they may turn to machines to exhaust their larger muscle groups without having to steady the weights.
Resistance-band and body-weight training are both favored by personal trainers, as they offer a more athletic, full-body style of strength training and could be a viable option for anyone looking to lose weight and tone up. Both categories of muscle exercises call for balance, coordination, and recruitment of multiple muscle groups at once, as opposed to the isolated muscle training called for by most mass-building workouts. Examples include walking horizontally with a resistance band around the knees, lunges, and push-ups. These training styles usually are recommended for novice and advanced exercisers alike, and can even be useful as a supplement to traditional mass-building muscle exercises.