What are the Different Types of Free Weight Exercises?

Jessica Ellis
Jessica Ellis
Jessica Ellis
Jessica Ellis
Free weight exercises often target the muscles in the chest, arms, and shoulders.
Free weight exercises often target the muscles in the chest, arms, and shoulders.

Free weights are weighted devices such as barbells or dumbbells that can be used to improve fitness, muscle tone, and strength level. Some people prefer free weight exercises to machines or other forms of strength training because they are easily customizable and can help improve posture and balance when used correctly. There are hundreds of different types of exercises with free weights that can be used to target specific muscle groups. Many fitness experts suggest performing at least one exercise for each muscle group to get a total body workout.

Free weights come in a variety of types.
Free weights come in a variety of types.

Free weight exercises for the upper body target the biceps, triceps, deltoids, chest, and shoulder muscles. Many free weight exercises for arms combine two or more of these muscle groups. It may help to plan an exercise routine in advance to ensure that all muscles are worked adequately and none are overworked.

One great exercise that works the arm and shoulder muscles is called the weight circle. Holding a light dumbbell in each hand, extend arms at shoulder height directly in front of the body, then slowly circle both arms in an outward pattern until the arms extend straight to the sides. Switch the direction of the circles and slowly circle both arms back to the starting position. Circles should be kept small and elbows should be slightly bent to prevent over extension.

Performing tricep kickbacks helps to tone the arms.
Performing tricep kickbacks helps to tone the arms.

The abs, hips and glutes are more often worked with exercises like sit-ups or crunches, but some free weight exercises can be very beneficial to this area as well. To do a medicine ball twist, first sit on the floor and tuck knees to chest while sitting, then extend legs slightly and hold both torso and legs off the ground. Grab a weighted medicine ball and twist torso from side to side, making sure to twist from the waist and not just the shoulders.

Chest presses with dumbbells can be used to strengthen the pectoral muscles.
Chest presses with dumbbells can be used to strengthen the pectoral muscles.

For toning the legs and thighs, few exercises are better than a one-legged dead lift. Standing straight with a relatively heavy free weight in each hand, step one foot back and bend at the hips. Lift the back leg up while letting the weights lead the upper body toward the ground. At the bottom of the movement, head, hips, and leg should all form one straight line.

The dumbbell lateral raise is a weightlifting move that works the shoulder muscles.
The dumbbell lateral raise is a weightlifting move that works the shoulder muscles.

There are hundreds of free weight exercises that can be incorporated into a workout routine, but the key to all of them is correct posture and performance. Many gyms offer a personal training session for free when joining, so be sure to ask for guidance on exactly how to perform each of the free weight exercises demonstrated. Try practicing free weight moves in front of a full length mirror to ensure posture and correct balance of weight.

Jessica Ellis
Jessica Ellis

With a B.A. in theater from UCLA and a graduate degree in screenwriting from the American Film Institute, Jessica is passionate about drama and film. She has many other interests, and enjoys learning and writing about a wide range of topics in her role as a writer.

Jessica Ellis
Jessica Ellis

With a B.A. in theater from UCLA and a graduate degree in screenwriting from the American Film Institute, Jessica is passionate about drama and film. She has many other interests, and enjoys learning and writing about a wide range of topics in her role as a writer.

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    • Free weight exercises often target the muscles in the chest, arms, and shoulders.
      By: mikiradic
      Free weight exercises often target the muscles in the chest, arms, and shoulders.
    • Free weights come in a variety of types.
      By: Rido
      Free weights come in a variety of types.
    • Performing tricep kickbacks helps to tone the arms.
      By: Tijana
      Performing tricep kickbacks helps to tone the arms.
    • Chest presses with dumbbells can be used to strengthen the pectoral muscles.
      By: Mat Hayward
      Chest presses with dumbbells can be used to strengthen the pectoral muscles.
    • The dumbbell lateral raise is a weightlifting move that works the shoulder muscles.
      By: Аrtranq
      The dumbbell lateral raise is a weightlifting move that works the shoulder muscles.
    • Performing squats can help strengthen the thighs and other muscles of the legs and lower back.
      By: gekaskr
      Performing squats can help strengthen the thighs and other muscles of the legs and lower back.
    • The shoulder press strengthens the triceps as well as the shoulders.
      By: michaeljung
      The shoulder press strengthens the triceps as well as the shoulders.
    • Powerlifting is a type of free-weight lifting whose goal is to move as much weight as possible.
      By: Mat Hayward
      Powerlifting is a type of free-weight lifting whose goal is to move as much weight as possible.
    • The snatch and clean and jerk are weightlifting moves that require coordination as well as strength and power.
      By: Andriy Petrenko
      The snatch and clean and jerk are weightlifting moves that require coordination as well as strength and power.
    • Dumbbell rows work and tone the muscles of the back, including the latissimus dorsi.
      By: fotoinfot
      Dumbbell rows work and tone the muscles of the back, including the latissimus dorsi.