There are many different types of weight lifting equipment. Barbells, dumbbells, and weight machines are standard in most gyms and can be purchased for home use. Lifting straps or weighted clothing provide a more specialized form of weight training that can meet the needs of weight lifters young or old. The variety of exercises weight lifting equipment provides makes them an essential piece of any workout routine.
The barbell is a primary piece of home or gym weight lifting equipment. As some barbells can hold up to 1,000 pounds (about 450 kg) of weight plates, the barbell is a tool both Olympic weightlifters and those just starting out in weight lifting use. The barbell is lifted either when the user is lying on his or her back, known as a bench press, or when standing. Out of all weight lifting equipment, the barbell is the most potentially dangerous. Many gyms require the presence of a spotter when the user is performing a bench press.
Dumbbells — a short handle supporting two identical weights — come in three types. The first are fixed weight dumbbells. Constructed from either cast iron or concrete-filled plastic, they are nonadjustable. The second type, adjustable dumbbells, have interchangeable plates so the user can either add or subtract weight. Finally, selectorized dumbbells allow the user to add or subtract weight without having to manually remove plates.
While barbells and dumbbells focus exclusively on upper body strength, weight lifting machines give the user the opportunity to improve almost all muscle groups. Most weight lifting machines include a stack of weights the user adjusts by moving a pin into the selected weight. A system of pulleys connects the weights to where the user is exerting force. Most gyms provide a variety of weight lifting machines that users cycle through during a single workout.
Lifting straps, used with both barbells and dumbbells, give the user the benefit of distributing weight more onto the wrists and lessening the importance of grip strength. Weighted clothing, like lifting straps, are a type of weight lifting equipment best suited to those who have just started weight lifting exercises. They are small sacs filled with either metal or sand that the user straps to his or her wrists or ankles. Usually worn under clothing, they gradually build muscle strength as the wearer goes through his or her daily routine. The low impact exercise makes weighted clothing an option for seniors working to maintain muscle mass.