| September 17, 2021

How Versatile is Training Equipment?

When we look at the different types of equipment at our disposal in this day and age, we have a significant amount of variety, no matter where you stand, regardless of whatever sport you train for if you do.

By Steven Fitzpatrick

Read time: 3 min.

When we look at the different types of equipment at our disposal in this day and age, we have a significant amount of variety, no matter where you stand, regardless of whatever sport you train for if you do. There will always be some sort of pro out of every piece of equipment that a facility offers.

Some gyms may more specifically favor certain types of equipment over others, and this is where visiting different types of gyms and perhaps dropping into different facilities may help you to find what you are looking for and experiment.

Some of the different types of equipment we may use are kettlebells (personally I am a huge fan) they are excellent to teach my new clients on learning how to hinge as a step prior to getting to the barbell, whether they are trying to learn sumo or the conventional deadlift, the kettlebell is a great and safe place to start. I also use them to teach the Romanian deadlift to ensure my clients are really feeling the muscles they are trying to use.

Barbells are great because you can use them to develop accumulating loads and strength progression of overload, however if they are used exclusively, an athlete may find themselves compensating without even realizing it, they may be underworking some areas and underworking others.

Dumbbells are amazing because they allow us to use our extremities independently. They enable a higher degree of range of motion and stretch reflex, provide more balance to muscles and allow for several movement patterns as opposed to using only the barbell (however, it is difficult to create progressive overload and strength with dumbbells because of their isolating nature).

When we look at “machines" they tend to get a very bad rep. They are stabilized systems meant to put the muscles through a pre-set range of motion and this can have both pros and cons. For pros, after using your stabilizer muscles with free weights, or compound exercises, having assisted movement and a specific range of motion with machines can allow you to isolate and “burnout” muscle safely for hypertrophy and growth. However, if you limit free weight and stabilizer exercises all together and depend on machines for your full workout, you will lack stability in day to day function and compound exercises.

Cables are fantastic, they have been in my regime for a long time now, and are a nice cross between free motion and stabilized support. They are similar to machines with the assisted stability, however they give you the ability to move around more freely and you are not stuck in a range of motion. They are extremely versatile and a simple cable rig can pretty much train every body part. They are very good for injury rehabilitation and excellent if your focus is time under tension and hypertrophy, as well as for strength benefits.

You will find other, more unorthodox pieces of equipment at gyms as well: rings; medicine balls; tire hammers; battle ropes; which all come with their own benefits and can be used for stability, conditioning and separate ranges of motion that you may not be able to use with the equipment mentioned above.

Mix up your training, and expand your mindset to different types of equipment that you have access to, it never hurts to try new things and create variations in your workouts.

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