We have discussed a lot about the ideal strength workouts on the site but what if tomorrow is your first day at the gym? Have you found asking yourself question like what is strength training all about? What machines or equipment and gear should I be using? If yes, relax. Here is a guide especially for beginners with an answer to all these burning questions.
Strength training equipment
The gym personnel will most likely take you around the aerobics and spin class section but that’s not what you and I are there for. It’s the free weights that we are interested in and here’s a list of free weight equipment.
- Olympic Bar
Most gyms will have the regular Olympic bar or the barbell. Its dimensions are approximately 8 ft. in length and weighs about 35-40 lbs. This is the equipment for lifting workouts such as the clean and jerk.
Top gyms also have the women bars. It’s just shorter and weighs less. For a starter home gym get a beater bar as they are inexpensive.
Forget the barbell it is the dumbbells that are going to be your soulmates at the gym for years to come. They can vary from 3 lbs to 100 lbs and will help you perform a variety of workouts for each targeted muscle group.
- Curled bars
These are not an alternate to the barbell and won’t help with all workouts so ensure your gym has either both or at least the barbell. The rod of these bars is formed like a w and it is smaller in length. These bars are perfect for workouts like the bicep curl, skull crusher etc.
There are lots of other bars as well that you might find in your gym but won’t be using until and unless you are well advanced into your workouts so it is always my advice to sign up for a gym that has all sorts of equipment irrespective of whether you will be initially using them or not.
Machines for your strength training
Now that you have a clear idea about the equipment you will be using it is time to talk about the important machines.
No the benches are not equipment to rest on in between sets instead these are pretty handy gym machines. With the adjustable weight benches you can do both incline and decline workouts so ensure your gym has at least 4-5 as these are very commonly used. Flat benches are perfect for dumbbell row, bench press etc.
- Power Rack
In my view this is the most important machine. It will have an adjustable barbell hooked up with gaps on either side from top to bottom. It’s the ideal machine for beginners to start off with workouts such as the bench press and barbell squat before you move to free weights. They are safe, reliable and allow you to lift heavy.
- Cable Machines
You’ll be onto these machines since the first day itself. With them you will be able to target your triceps, back, shoulders, forearms and abs as well. These are machines with a handle at the end which can be pulled in different angles depending on the workout.
Apart from these there are a lot of other machines too and you will learn about them as you move ahead with your training.
The Gear you need
Forget the machines and equipment. Before you enter then gym the first and foremost thing to do is to get your gear right. So here is what you need to buy.
For men my advice would be a tank top and shorts. Remember at the gym it’s not about the fashion. Avoid lose and baggy fits as they tend to stick into the machines. For women a sports bra is ideal. Opt for material that wicks away sweat. On leg day prefer wearing longer socks to avoid cuts and bruises and fingerless gloves for better grip and hand protection.
The most ignored part of the gear remain the shoes. Since you would be lifting my tip would be you get good weightlifting shoes. Flat sole shoes should be perfect. These will provide a better grip and cushion your feet better than running or walking shoes. Buy a size or 2 bigger so your feet have ample room to expand and contract.