Free weights are handheld weights that are not attached to a weight lifting machine. They include weights such as barbells, dumbbells, weight bars and kettlebells, and are often used as part of a more comprehensive exercise program. If you cannot afford to or do not want to go to a gym, exercising with free weights in your home can be a good way to stay in shape.
Dumbbells and barbells come in different sizes and weights to suit your needs. Weight bars are designed to have weight plates added and subtracted, to increase or decrease the weight as needed. Barbells are also designed to allow you to add or subtract more weight, while dumbbells are usually manufactured in a fixed weight that cannot be changed.
Wearable weights are another type of free weight. These can be weight belts, hand weights or ankle weights, generally worn by people while doing aerobic exercise. It is important to be safe when using these types of weights, and to maintain proper form. Some experts advise against using hand weights while walking or running, because they have been shown to stretch tendons and increase blood pressure.
If you are just beginning to exercise, there are sets of free weights available to help you begin. These might come with a few weights in different sizes, along with a routine to use with the free weights or some tips for safe practices. If you like working out with free weights and as you get stronger, you can add to the set. You might also purchase a weight bench to help you work out, though it is probably not necessary in the beginning. Purchasing weight lifting gloves is also a good idea -- this helps you securely lift the weights without worrying about having them slip out of your hands and possibly fall on you, causing injury.
If you do not know how to begin lifting free weights, searching online will bring up many workout routines. All emphasize the importance of proper form to prevent injury. You might also sign up for a training session at your local gym, even if you do not plan to continue attending the gym. Remember that in addition to lifting weights, aerobic exercise is important to improve your cardiovascular health and overall fitness level.