A staple in most weight rooms, dumbbells are a good place to start if you’re new to strength training. Most gyms are equipped with dumbbells ranging from 1 to 100 pounds.
Nope, these aren’t just for Olympic lifters and bodybuilders. Barbells can be a lifter’s best friend for moves like back squats, deadlifts and snatches. Referring to the 2.5 to 45-pound weighted plates you can side onto to each side of the metal bar. Keep in mind, the bar itself can weigh anywhere from 45 pounds, so be sure to figure that into your calculation. And if you’re not quite ready to go heavy, opt for fixed barbells.
3. Body Bars
Body bars are iron bars covered in foam rubber, making them a friendlier (and lighter weight) alternative to standard barbells. For experienced lifters, while body bars may not provide enough of a challenge for your main set, we suggest using them to warm-up for exercises requiring a standard barbell.
The cannonball-like weight with a single loop handle looks like something out of Game of Thrones but it’s a great way to build power. Many of the classic kettlebell exercises, like kettlebell swings and cleans, require you to move the weight quickly and powerfully. (It’s also a sneaky way to work in some heart pumping cardio.) And, since the weight isn’t balanced like a dumbbell and shifts when you move it, your body must work harder to stabilize.
5. Resistance Bands
They may look like giant colored rubber bands, but resistance bands provide a surprisingly effective workout. Choose your desired resistance level, length and style (you’ll find everything from tube bands with handles to flat bands to closed looped bands), and get accustomed to that tension. Resistance bands are perfect for exercises like overhead presses, squats and lateral band walks (a seriously effective dynamic warm-up move!). Bands can also be a good intro to strength training for someone who’s new to the gym and an easy-to-pack piece of equipment when you travel.
The unassuming straps hanging from your gym’s ceiling are really an all-in-one gym. For example, slip your feet into the TRX handles and your regular push-up turns into a core and shoulder-stabilizing move. And since you’re using just your bodyweight, you can adjust the resistance by moving your feet closer (less resistance) or further (more resistance) away from the anchor point.
Sandbags are just like they sound — weighted bags of sand that look like big duffle bags. Press them up, slam them down and slide them across the floor like a total champ. Or, incorporate them into your usual strength training routine via squats, lunges and carries.
That funny looking hollow tube you’ve seen at the gym? No, it’s not a new type of foam roller. It’s the ViPR, a tool that builds mobility, stability and dynamic strength through loaded movement training. Because you can pick it up and shift it in space, the ViPR mimics real-life and sport-based movement and forces your whole body to work together. Think forward lunges with rotation, or lateral lunges swinging the ViPR over and up, as if you’re digging with a shovel.You can change the intensity of the movement based on how you hold the ViPR and how you move the tool in relation to your center of mass so moving it away from your body makes it harder.
9. Medicine Balls
Think of medicine balls as chicken soup for the swole. You’ll often see people use these basketball-shaped weights to add resistance to core exercises like sit-ups or Russian twists. But they’re meant to be carried, lifted and thrown.
10. Slam Balls
Slam balls are slightly larger (and sometimes heavier) versions of medicines that don’t bounce. That means you don’t have to worry about a heavy ball bouncing back in your face after slamming it to the ground. (Ouch!) To get in on the action, just make sure you’re in a slam-safe zone. (Gyms will often post where you can and can’t use such equipment so you don’t go busting a hole through a wall.)
11. Stability Balls
These giant inflatable beach ball-like tools are another way to up the anté on strength training exercises.
12. BOSU Balance Trainer
Next to the stability balls, you’ll likely find the BOSU Balance Trainer, what looks like a stability ball cut in half. It stands for “both sides utilized,” meaning you can use both the dome stability ball-like side and the flat platform for exercises.
13. Gliding Discs
You may be tempted to overlook these plate-size disks at the gym. Don’t. Use them to crank up reverse or lateral lunges (place one foot on the disk and glide into the lunge and back to the starting position). You’re guaranteed to feel your core, glutes and inner thighs light up. And if you can’t find these at the gym, grab two small towels to get the same slippery effect underfoot.
Commonly used by gymnasts and CrossFit athletes, parallettes let you test (and push) the limits of your physical strength. And since they’re raised off the ground, you can move into a deeper range of motion with each exercise.
15. Battle Ropes
Looking for an intense but stress-relieving workout? Try battle or battling ropes. (Cue baller inspiration HERE.) Grab one of these giant ropes in each hand and begin lifting the rope up and down explosively, creating waves. The higher the wave, the more energy you’re pouring into the rope.
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