October 04, 2021 5 Comments
If you are reading this, you likely saw someone using a steel mace and you thought “what exactly are the benefits of steel mace training”?
"It looks fun, but is it effective?" The simple answer is YES...but we want to tell you all about why it's effective and why it's become our favorite unconventional training tool.
So, in this article, we will go over what makes steel mace training so special, and then we list, in detail, the top 9 steel mace training benefits.
Steel Mace aka GADA:
The mace has been around for a long time. It has been used by wrestlers for centuries, most notably in India. It goes even farther back as it was used in war, in various forms, for over 2,000 years.
Now, thanks to pioneers in the fitness industry, steel maces have made their way to the West, becoming one of the most notable modern fitness training tools for athletes.
Steel mace workouts are the epitome of functional training. Steel Mace Training improves sports performance like no other fitness tool.
Functional (aka Athletic) training purposely demands balance and body awareness during training through the use of unilateral exercises. Functional training requires controlled amounts of instability so that the athlete must react in order to regain their own stability.
By design, functional training makes use of single leg and arm movements that demand balance to properly develop muscles.
It’s the same concept and effect when training with the steel mace due to its uneven weight distribution.
The steel mace won’t allow you to cheat like many other tools. It won’t give you the option to move your upper body in a rigid fashion. Instead, you'll move in a fluid motion with your upper body as you begin to do things like trunk rotation or foot pivots. Steel mace training is great for developing good rhythmic movement, needed for actions like throwing a ball or sprinting. Steel mace training is also great for stability and coordination, so you can handle high impact without losing balance and momentum.
Beyond the numerous Steel Mace Training benefits, which we will get into shortly, the steel mace tool itself is also quite unique and extremely versatile.
The ability to alter the difficulty:
The beauty of the steel mace is that you can increase the difficulty by moving your hands closer together towards the end of the handle or make it easier by using a spread-out grip with one hand closer to the head while the other remains towards the bottom of the handle.
The ability to change the difficulty of a movement by simply altering your hand placement makes the Steel Mace an extremely dynamic and versatile training tool.
Note: If you are looking for the most versatile size go with a 10LB or 15LB mace. Another size may be better for you, take your current conditioning and strength into consideration when choosing your mace.
Creativity in Steel Mace Exercises:
The design of the mace allows for the possibility to create hundreds of different movements. Here are 66 steel mace swing variations, and believe us, we could have made up hundreds if time permitted.
Athletes and anyone looking to improve their sports performance would do very well using the mace.
Also, people looking to supplement their normal workout routines to improve their overall performance and physical capabilities.
Put simply, the steel mace is great for anyone who wants a full-body conditioning tool that is cost-effective, physically effective, and a lot of fun (albeit, a lot of the workouts are so brutal you might not call it fun until you are done, and you realized what you just accomplished).
The steel mace can be used in warm-up, workout, and recovery. So it's a super versatile piece of fitness equipment that anyone who works out could benefit from.
We covered some of the reasons why you should workout with a steel mace above, but let us break down all of the major benefits in-depth...
One of the most frequently injured areas of the body is the shoulder area. The reason being is that the shoulder girdle is the weakest joint in the entire human body. Many of us have suffered through shoulder injuries that make it difficult to perform daily tasks let alone get a good workout at the gym.
The 360 is an exercise that requires you to swing the Mace through a full range of motion. These types of exercises will increase flexibility and mobility while simultaneously improving the strength of the muscles and connective tissue surrounding the shoulder joint.
360s and 10-to-2s will allow you to maintain good shoulder mobility. After months/years of practice, you will have the mobility in your shoulders that most overhead sports or MMA professionals strive for day in and day out. Injury prevention is key, and this is one of the most effective tools to prevent shoulder injury.
Stabilizer muscles distribute the work of training and movement throughout our bodies instead of placing all the stress on one or two primary movers/joints.
If stabilizers are weak, you risk creating muscle imbalances and increase the chance of injury.
Also, stabilizing muscles provide a solid foundation that your body needs for postural support. This is crucial for sports performance and ability to take pressure on joints (think pretty much every full-contact sport).
When was the last time you focused on building your grip strength? Do you dedicate enough time to working on your forearms and grip?
Perhaps one of the most useful things you can do that will impact your entire life is to improve your grip strength. Grip strength is a combination of finger, hand and forearm strength. You use your grip every single day from picking anything up, to opening that jar of pickles to carrying your groceries inside.
The non-proportional weight distribution of the Mace combined with swinging motions requires an extra strong grip. Since Mace training often is comprised of repetitive movements your grip strength will continue to improve as the weeks and months pass.
The steel mace engages forces and activates new ones through purposeful multi-planar movement. This is one of few tools that can work you through all 3 planes of motion in one exercise or complete movement.
The ability to effectively channel and absorb force is what healthy, performance-based movement is all about. Without a focus on all three dimensions of the body, this skill is incomplete.
One of the exceptional benefits of tire slams is the ability to train explosively through multiple planes of motion. The shock effect of slamming a training tool into a tire also aids in strengthening of tendons and joints. Training explosiveness and power in multi-planes like this will directly correlate to an improved performance in a variety of athletic activities.
The uneven weight distribution of the steel macebell activates your core in order to keep the Mace under control while performing swinging motions. Many Steel Mace movements entail cross-body swinging movements that activate and engage the core, especially the obliques.
One of the key factors in transverse training is that you will be more resilient to injury. Your core is your foundation and is the most crucial component of sports performance at it’s highest level.
A strong core = longevity.
Most injuries happen when accelerating or decelerating too quickly. Training in the transverse plane will help you to build a strong core and the ability to accelerate and decelerate at the drop of a dime - super important for athletes.
The Warrior's Way!
Warriors were essentially the athletes of their time, except small injuries were not an excuse for absence. An injury would mean weakness, not rest. A rotator cuff injury didn't mean retreat. It meant a disadvantage. So, they had to be extremely powerful and resilient through every muscle, joint and fiber of their body.
Warriors would be twisting and turning while holding a heavy load (a weapon) throughout the battle.
Their training would have to prepare them for this. They used heavy tools in practice.
These heavy tools prepared them in many ways. They needed incredible stability, rotational strength, and muscle endurance. They needed to be able to accelerate and decelerate with loaded weight. They needed balance, coordination and kinesthetic awareness. They needed to have strong, mobile joints.
Guess what? Modern day athletes and weightlifters need the same thing. Injury resilience is one of the most important aspects of fitness. To do this, we can look back to how these warriors trained, and we can look to modern day fighters like UFC athletes. What tools do they use? What training methods do they implement?
Our favorite tool to accomplish remarkable injury resilience is the steel mace. As a beginner, you can start off with some simple rotational mace exercises.
Just as it’s good for rotational work. it’s an amazing tool for anti-rotational work. Which can directly apply to sports in terms of stability and the ability to be hit or take force from one side while maintaining balance.
The offset weight, again similar to unilateral training, will drastically improve your balance and coordination, something many conventional weightlifting athletes are missing as they mostly train in the sagittal and frontal plane with an even weight distribution (squats, deadlifts and bench). However, that’s not to say most conventional athletes don’t do moves like split squats or lunges, however, using an unconventional tool like the steel mace will really challenge and take your balance and coordination to the next level.
By swinging the Mace or performing other movements during a set period of time will boost your heart rate dramatically resulting in improved cardiovascular output. Just like the kettlebell, you can incorporate the mace into HIIT training.
Exercises and movements using the Mace are almost entirely compound movements that engage multiple muscle groups within the same movement.
Here is the perfect example and it’s not a movement that most would consider “full-body” but it is when you are using a weight like and form like that.
The video below is of a GADA which is what the Steel Mace was designed after.
“I was so confused by his technique. Once I started looking at the small details I started realizing all of the "crazy" looking things were super purposeful and all adding to his swing. I have never seen anyone get that kind of quad engagement in a mace swing before! This cat is definitely at on a whole different level than anyone I've seen”
- Franken Legs (Instagram)
In reply to that comment Coach Rich Thurman said…
“There’s no other way than to engage the entire body. The notion that motion stops at the hips is only for specific objectives with specific loads. We harness power from the ground...Earth supplies us with power. We just need to learn how to harness it safely and effectively through our kinetic chain.”
In regards to muscle endurance, pick up a light mace, even a 7LB mace, and perform exercises for 10 minutes straight and tell us how you feel. We guarantee you will be testing your muscle endurance tremendously.
The steel mace can help fix muscle imbalances you might (likely) have.
Training with a unilateral weight like the macebell will keep your dominant side from assisting your weaker side. That is the purpose of functional training and what athletes focus on day in and day out.
Once you get yourself steel mace, first things first, you need to learn the essentials. The two main movements for the steel mace, arguably the most fun and effective as well, are the 360 and 10-to-2. Now, don’t get me wrong, there are many more steel mace exercises. As we said, there are endless possibilities for exercises.
The mace 360 and 10-to-2, a.k.a. Gada Swings, and are what the mace is really known for. These two movements (with variations of the two, such as one-handed, or switch-hand) are the main focus for how Pelwani wrestlers used the mace in their training.
If you want to perfect your mace skills, our Steel Mace Training e-Guide is a must-have (it'll take you from beginner to pro in no time!):
Our SFS FIVE Steel Mace Workout Package is also a must-have for those who already know how to use the mace (it's the perfect weekly workout routine!):
Warning: When using the Mace to exercise make sure that you’re using proper form and a weight that you can completely control. Swinging a steel bar with a heavy steel ball at the end can be dangerous if not done correctly or if performed in an area that contains innocent bystanders.
Related: What Size Steel Mace Should I Buy?
September 29, 2021
You might think the answer for “how much does a Smith machine bar weigh?” is as simple as two words - a number followed by a unit of weight (lb or kg) - but actually there is no standardized weight for a Smith machine barbell. It can be anywhere from 6 to 45+ pounds...As such, we need to break this question down in-depth to provide the answer you desire.
In this article, we are going to look at the different types of Smith machines, how they are made, and what the barbells generally weigh based on that. We will also go over the bar weight of some of the most popular Smith machine models for home gyms and commercial gyms, as well as Smith machines at gyms like Planet Fitness and LA Fitness. And if you still don't get your answer, we will explain how you can easily measure the weight of the Smith machine bar yourself.
To start, let's look at what a Smith machine actually is...
A Smith machine is a weight training machine with a barbell that is fixed within a set of steel rails, permitting it to move strictly up and down in a vertical (or near vertical) path.
The barbell on a Smith machine has two hooks, one on each side, that rotate so you can lock the bar in place along a series of lockout points. This allows you to start with the bar at different heights and it provides a measure of safety for the lifter as they can quickly lock the bar to get out of an exercise.
The main purpose of a Smith machine is to take the demand of stabilizing the bar out of the equation. Not only is this good for beginners who may have stability issues with free weight barbell exercises, but it also allows you to really hone in on the primary muscles targeted by each exercise. For example, with back squats, you can focus on your quads and glutes without concern for balance, leaning too far forward, or falling back.
Another interesting feature of the Smith machine is that most have a lower starting weight than an Olympic barbell. An Olympic barbell will always weigh 45lbs (with exception to women’s Olympic barbells). With a Smith machine, the bar can weigh anywhere from 6-45+ lbs (although 15-25lbs is the average for Smith machines at commercial gyms).
The difference in weight comes down to how the Smith machine is made...
While all Smith machines will have a fixed barbell and safety hooks, some Smith machines use a counterbalance mechanism (which also varies in how much its counterbalanced) AND the angle of the rail and bar material varies as well.
Obviously you are here reading this article to learn about the weight of a Smith machine bar, so let’s dig in and see how they differ among all the sellers and how you can know how heavy the Smith machine bar you are using is.
Just in case you're in the market for one read our post where we cover the Best Smith Machines on the market today.
Let’s just make this very clear. There is NO standardized weight that a Smith machine barbell should weigh. It’s not like an Olympic barbell that is standardized universally at 45lbs (20kg). As such, the starting weight of a Smith machine (meaning the bar only, without plates) will depend on the specific Smith machine you are using.
Thankfully, you have us to help you find out the bar weight of the most popular kinds of Smith machines as well as how you can easily measure the weight if the Smith machine you are using is different than the ones we discuss here.
Pro Tip: A lot of Smith machines label the bar weight on the side of the machine, so check around the machine first. If not, look up the Smith machine you are using online to see if the manufacturer has the barbell weight listed, many do.
WHY IS KNOWING THE SMITH MACHINE BAR WEIGHT IMPORTANT?
You might be wondering, “but wait, is it even necessary to know the weight of the Smith machine bar?”.
We say, YES. For sure.
So, let’s just quickly go over why knowing the bar weight for a Smith Machine is important, just in case you are ready to give up on getting an exact answer.
Knowing the bar weight of the Smith machine you are using is just as important as knowing the weight of a regular barbell (which most of us know by heart) or dumbbells. If you want to progressive overload (make percentage/incremental increases to the weight you are lifting each week/session), then you need to know how much you are lifting and that includes the bar.
Also, knowing the actual weight of the bar is important for determining what your starting weight is for any given exercise. For example, if you can do 40lb dumbbell shoulder presses, then knowing the weight of the Smith machine barbell will help you choose how much additional weight you need to load on the bar.
It’s really that simple. If you like accuracy in your lifts, which is important for progression, then you should know how much you are lifting.
Here are two other frequency asked questions...
Should I count the weight of a smith machine bar?
Yes, you should definitely count the bar. With Smith machine bars weighing anywhere from 6-40lbs, you need to know the weight to know exactly how much you are lifting.
Is Smith machine true weight?
The Smith machine is definitely a true weight, but it shouldn’t be compared to a free weight barbell lift. Because the stability demands are taken out of play with the Smith machine, the feeling of the load won't be the same. That said, if you are going to use a Smith machine regularly, then you will want to increase the weight over time, so knowing the baseline you are lifting is essential for progression.
So, you aren’t comparing the weight of a Smith machine to other equipment, you are comparing it to your previous weeks' Smith machine lifts.
That said, you can get an idea for how much to lift on a Smith machine based on how much you can do of a similar exercise with a barbell or dumbbell. The amount won’t be too far off. Generally, you can do 10% more with a Smith machine than you can with dumbbells or a free weight barbell. But, it’s probably best to start with a similar or even lesser weight just to be safe, then progress from there.
Smith machine bars can weight anywhere from 6lbs to ~45lbs, but the average range is somewhere between 15-25lbs at most commercial gyms.
The reason for the big differences in bar weight is the bar material, counterbalances, and angle of rails (although the angle of the rail doesn’t play a huge factor in the weight off the bar).
The type of steel used for many Smith machine bar is different than that of an Olympic bar.
Olympic bars are made out of high strength steel as they must be able to handle a lot of stress on their own without bending (or with flex).
The tensile strength is higher for an Olympic bar, and with that, the weight of the bar itself is greater.
Smith machine bars have additional support with the clamps, bearings and slides, so they don’t need the same tensile strength to carry the same amount of weight.
So, a Smith machine bar is generally a little lighter, but it’s not as if a smith machine can’t handle the same weight as a barbell. Most commercial Smith machines have a 600-1000lb max capacity, which is right on par with Olympic barbells.
In regards to the barbell size, they are the same as an Olympic bar, with exception to some less expensive residential style Smith machines which have 1 inch sleeves. Any commercial Smith machine is going to have 2 inch sleeves just like an Olympic barbell. In fact, some smith machines actually use an Olympic barbell.
In summary, generally speaking, most Smith machine bars are a little lighter than an Olympic barbell because they don’t need the same tensile strength. For most, the bar itself will weigh 25-40lbs (if you were to remove the bar from the Smith machine, that’s how much it would weigh). Then you can also factor in the bearings, clamps and hooks, which may add an additional couple pounds.
HOWEVER, some Smith machines use counterbalances, and if they have this mechanism, even if the bar weighs 40lbs, they can make it function as less.
Let us explain...
If you are talking about high-end new Smith machines, which many commercial gyms have, then it's likely the bar is counterbalanced.
Typically, residential-made Smith machines don’t have counterbalances and commercial-made Smith machines do. So, if you are working out at places like Planet Fitness, LA Fitness, Life Time, Equinox, or Gold’s Gym, then the Smith machine is probably counterbalanced. And if you have a home gym Smith machine, then it’s probably not.
A counterbalanced bar will feel lighter, generally 6-20lbs. The reason for the range is how much it is counterbalanced.
Either way, you should definitely be able to feel the difference between a bar that is counterbalanced and a bar that is not when it is unloaded.
So, how do counterbalanced Smith machine barbells work?
Think about it like a balancing scale. The bar is on one side of the scale and a set of weights within the Smith machine on the other. But, rather than have them weigh an even amount, the barbell purposely weighs more.
So, let’s say the bar itself weighs 40lbs and the set of weight on the other side weighs 20lbs, then the bar will feel, and for all intents and purposes, weigh, 20lbs when using it on the Smith machine.
The manufacturer may decide to counterbalance it more or less. There is no standardized method for this, which is why counterbalanced Smith machine bars usually weigh anywhere from 6 to 20-25 pounds.
Be that as it may, there is some certain logic that must be followed. For one, you obviously don't want to counterbalance the bar to make it even. I mean, you could make it even, which would leave the bar weighing 0lbs, but then the bar would fly up the top of the Smith machine at the slightest touch. In fact, it would do this similarly even at just a couple pounds.
Once you get to 6lbs+, it proves to work just perfectly.
Now, the benefit of having it on the lower range of this counterbalanced scale is that the starting weight is good for people who are new to training. Thus, the Smith machine is accessible to all fitness levels, as more advanced/stronger trainees can simply add plates to get the weight they need, and as you can remember, a Smith machine can handle very heavy loads...
It’s actually quite impressive that a high-end counterbalanced Smith machine can range from 6lbs (the barbells starting weight) to 1,000lbs (max load capacity)!
Anyway, moving on...
ANGLE OF THE RAILS:
While you might think a Smith machine bar moves perfectly straight up and down, many Smith machines have their rails set on a slight incline.
The intention of using a slight incline bar path is that it better matches the natural movement path for big compound movements like squats and bench press.
Note: Usually commercial Smith machines have an incline (7-12˚) and residential Smith machines are perfectly straight up and down.
Now, besides offering a potentially more natural movement path, the slight incline also changes the weight of the bar...ever so slightly.
The more vertical the bar, the more you feel its full weight.
So, Smith machine bars that have a slight incline will make the bar feel like slightly less. That said, it is very minimal. After all, even a 12 degree incline is still very steep. It may only make it feel 1-2lbs less. Nevertheless, if we are getting technical, it does change the weight of the bar.
The point is, yes the angle of the rail plays a role in the weight of the bar, but it’s minimal. The main purpose of the angle is for the bar’s path of motion, not its weight.
To simplify things, there are two main types of Smith machines, residential Smith machines and commercial Smith machines.
In general, the characteristics of residential and commercial Smith machines are as follows...
Residential Smith machines usually have a 400lb max weight capacity.
Commercial Smith machines have a max weight capacity that ranges from 600-1000lbs
Besides these two main categories, of which there are many sellers and slight characteristic differences, you also have All-in-One Smith machines and 3D Smith machines.
All-in-One Smith machines are like residential Smith machines but they include cable pulleys, an adjustable bench, and other attachments. They can range in quality. Many are very high-end and expensive and may actually have an inclined rail.
3D (3-dimensional) Smith machines are something relatively new to the industry, and not often seen. They are capable of moving both horizontally and vertically, so they are not limited to moving just up and down. For the purpose of this post, we are not including 3D Smith machines, but if you want one or have one, you should be able to find the bar weight via the manufacturer’s website or on the machine itself. If not, contact the manufacturer and they will tell you.
Although there are many manufacturers and brands of Smith machines out there, there are just several big players. Moreover, commercial gyms usually stick to these sellers. So, we can actually make a list of the most popular Smith machine bar weights.
But, let’s first go over some of the most popular gyms and what their Smith machine bars weigh and then we can look at a few big name manufactures for both commercial and home gyms.
The Smith machines at Planet Fitness will have the bar weight written on the side of the machine. So, you can just have a look, but they should range from 15-20lbs.
Note: Some PF gyms may have heavier bars, as we’ve seen members claim their Planet Fitness gym’s Smith machine weighs 35lbs.
LA Fitness will have a commercial Smith machine with a counterbalanced barbell. Most LA Fitness gyms have a Smith machine with a bar weight of 15-25lbs.
“Your Gym” is obviously not a commercial gym brand name ;) But, it’s safe to say your gym's Smith Machine bar weighs 15-25lbs.
If you want to find out exactly how much it weighs, we will teach you a few simple methods to measure the bar’s weight further below, but first, let’s look at some of the biggest manufacturers, as we may list the one you are using...
Marcy is a brand known for producing home gym equipment. They sell all-in-one Smith machines, not commercial Smith machines. However, they do make their all-in-one Smith machines with angled bar paths and counterbalanced weight.
Most Marcy Smith machines have a bar weight of 16lbs, but the SM-4033 model’s bar weighs about 36lbs and the Diamond Elite MD-9010G weighs 25lbs.
Body Solid has a range of Smith machines from inexpensive residential models to high end commercial.
They have residential Smith machines (model PSM144X & PSM1442xS) with a standard barbell that weighs 32lbs, angled Smith machines with Olympic sized barbells that weigh 25lbs (model GS348Q & GS348QP4), and a high end commercial gym Smith machine with a counterbalanced barbell that weighs 6lbs (model SCB1000).
Nautilus is a huge brand that most of you probably know. They sell a high end commercial Smith machine that you’ll find at some gyms, and the bar weighs approximately 15lbs.
Matrix is another Smith machine that you will find at many commercial gyms. Their most popular model, the Magnum Smith Machine, has a bar weight of 25lbs.
Matrix’s Varsity VY-M49 Angled Smith Machine's bar weighs 25lbs. And, Matrix’s G1 FW161 Smith Machine’s bar weighs 44lbs
Hammer Strength is a commercial Smith machine brand with a model that you will find at gyms all over the world. Their Smith machine has a 7 degree bar path angle and a counterbalance system that sets the bar’s starting weight at 20lbs (9kg) and a max capacity of 650lbs.
Now let’s look two of the most popular home gym brands...
Hoist is a popular brand especially for home gyms, even though they make commercial quality Smith machines too.
Their all-in-one Smith machine (Mi7Smith Functional Training System) has a bar weight of 30lbs.
Their two most popular commercial Smith machines, CF 3753 and CF 3754, have bars that weigh 25lbs and 52lbs respectively.
Force USA sells all-in-one Smith machines for home gyms. They use a regular Olympic barbell that weighs 45lbs (20kg). It is not counterbalanced, so that is its true weight.
We’d have to go on and on and on to list all of the Smith machine bar weights out there, and even then we couldn’t get them all as not all manufacturers list them on their sites. So, if you didn’t see the Smith machine you are using above, which is highly possible, and you want to nail down the exact bar weight, then here’s how you can measure it yourself...
There are three straight forward methods to measure the weight of a Smith machine bar. You can use a regular step-on bathroom scale, a hanging scale, or a rope with plates.
The only issue with the above is if the Smith machine in question is at your gym because bringing in a scale and measuring it may come off as just a tad bit weird, as will tying a rope to the bar to figure out the weight like a mad scientist. Nevertheless, we are going to teach you how. We just recommend that you either ask an employee first so they know what’s going on or you do it during a time when not many members are there.
1. Bathroom Scale
Place the scale on the floor, then place the barbell on your upper back like you would a squat and step on the scale.
Record the total weight.
Then, weigh yourself without the bar and subtract that from the total weight of the first measurement. EASY!
For this one, you need a flat, hard box (like a plyobox) as well.
Place the box at the center of the bar path. The box is used simply to bring the scale to a height that reaches the bar as Smith machines have several inches of free space from the floor to where the bar’s lowest position starts.
From there, place the bathroom scale on the box and then bring the bar down to the scale and let it rest on it.
Whatever the scale reads is the weight of your barbell.
2. Hanging Scale
It doesn’t get more accurate than this method. The only issue is, not many people have a hanging scale (aka fish scale).
If you DO happen to have a hanging scale (or you buy one), then you can wrap a strap around the bar, hook the strap to the hanging scale, and hang the bar from the scale to get its total weight.
3. Rope & Plates
If you have a thin rope, you can tie it around the middle of the Smith machine barbell then throw the other end over the crossbar of the machine.
Bring the bar up high (i.e. chest level) and hook it in place. You want the loose end of the rope to be touching or near the floor.
Then, just tie some weight plates to the loose end of the rope and unhook the bar to see if it balances with the weighted end of the rope. If it doesn’t, add or remove some weight from the rope until it does.
Once the bar is perfectly balanced with the amount of weight tied to the rope, you have your bar weight.
i.e. If you have 15lbs of plates tied to the rope and it is balancing perfectly with the bar, your Smith machine barbell weighs 15lbs.
LET'S WRAP THIS UP
It’s safe to say that most Smith machine bars at gyms weigh between 15-25lbs. However, Smith machines made for home gyms vary greatly and can be as much, if not more (with the added weight of the clamps and such) as an Olympic barbell.
If you didn’t find the bar weight info you need for your Smith machine here, we’ve given you the info needed to figure out how much it weighs (either measure it yourself or contact the seller). Another pro-tip is just to look at the stickers on the machine! You’ll be surprised how many Smith machines state the starting weight on the machine itself and people just don’t care to look.
In any case, we applaud you for wanting to know how much a Smith machine bar weighs because those who pay attention to the specifics usually progress the fastest and achieve the best results. If you still have questions about Smith machines, please feel free to contact us!
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July 02, 2021
The classics never die. Weight plates are an essential part of any gym. The type of weight plate you find in the gym should tell you a little more about the gym and its target audience. Does your gym have iron plates, bumper plates or steel plates? This post will cover the differences in weight plate types plus the uses and benefits of each.
This article should cover everything you need to know to make an informed decision before you make any weight plate set purchases. It’s important to note that if you want to buy new weight plates you should be prepared to pay a pretty penny regardless of the type. However, there’s always that neighbor, friend, classified ad or good old tag sale where you can pick up a decent weight plate set for next to nothing. Give those unwanted weight plates a good home.
Check out our complete barbell buying guide or our list of the Best Barbells on the market today to get an idea of what you should look for when buying a barbell so that you know iron weight plates or bumper plates are the only way to go.
By choosing the Olympic style barbell and iron weight plates or bumper plates you will get higher quality products while having a wider range of choices in the future.
With that being said, we will consider all the following weight plates "Olympic" as they will have a 2-inch center hole.
In short, you should buy iron plates if you don’t mind the clanging noises, have a limited budget, or are a purist.
You should buy bumper plates if you’re concerned with noises of the weights banging around, perform Olympic lifts or budget isn’t an issue.
The answer is based on a few variables but ultimately comes down to personal preference, budget and usage. We personally use both traditional weight plates and bumper plates depending on the exercises we’re doing, sometimes we even get crazy and mix them together.
Also referred to as traditional plates, these weight plates are what you’d think of if you pictured Arnold in the gym back in the day preparing for Mr. Olympia. These weights come in all shapes, sizes, diameters and thicknesses so if you’re concerned with having a matching set of weights then once you buy a particular brand/model you will have to stick with it when adding new weight plates to the collection.
It’s important to note some differences in iron plates so you have a better idea of what to look for when purchasing the best weight plates.
A few aspects of iron weight plates apart from what they’re made from include the following:
The exact dimensions vary from brand to brand but the general stated weight amount will be the same. Iron weight plates will come in the following weight sizes.
In the US standard weight sizes are:
For those outside the US:
Cast iron Plates
Often the cheapest plates available, iron plates are made of iron. These are the most traditional weight plates that can be found in the old-school style bodybuilding gyms known to clank and bang around( oh what a sweet-sweet sound). Iron plates are made by pouring molten iron into sand molds then they are cooled to harden. The material is usually cast iron because it has a low melting point requiring less heat to melt it. Often times the iron plates will then be painted and baked in an oven to set the paint and harden the surface to reduce chances of scratching or chipping. Raw iron plates can eventually corrode and rust even if they have some type of coating. Although this won’t necessarily change the weight or function of the plates it can be rough on your hands when switching them off the bar.
Milled Iron Plates
Iron plates can also be milled or machined using the same methods but involve a second step where the plates are milled and machined down into the correct dimensions. Molds can produce some irregularities when used too much. Therefore the milling process can help guarantee the shape and size are the same regardless of any molding issues. Cast-iron plates will usually display seams from where the plate was formed in the mold. Milling can smooth out any imperfections or inconsistencies leading to most manufacturers guaranteeing 1-2% delta from the marked weight.
This article contains affiliate links where we may earn a small commission on purchases made at no additional cost to you.***
Rubber Coated Iron Plates
Rubber coated weight plates have a few benefits over regular cast iron weight plates. To start rubber coated weight plates are durable and withstand some bumping around without chipping. This feature also makes them a little quitter for those trying to keep it down while working out in the basement home gym or garage gym.
After covering the benefits of rubber coated iron weight plates we should also mention the not so good aspects. Rubber covered plates can sometime have an unpleasant smell due to the manufacturing process. This smell should go away over time but unfortunately that’s not always the case. So, if you buy cheaper rubber coated plates then be prepared to endure a smell for a while. Rubber coated plates can also be scuffed rather easily so just be aware if you’re a stickler for looks.
Urethane Covered Iron Plates
Urethane coated iron weight plates are smooth to the touch and have no odor which makes it a little better than rubber coated plates in our opinion. Urethane is a crystalline compound in the elastomer family, you can think of it as an artificial rubber. Urethane coated plates normally have a thinner coating which makes it possible to load more plates closer to the center of the barbell. Urethane plates also are super durable and don’t scratch or scuff easily.
Many people might confuse iron plates with steel plates as most people aren’t experts in gym equipment or haven’t studied metallurgy. However, iron weight plates and steel weight plates are different, especially considering the price. Steel plates are awfully expensive! Steel plates are used usually only used for powerlifting competitions such as IPF (International Powerlifting Federation). The reason for using steel plates in competition is that the weight tolerances small, usually within 10 grams of the marked weight. In competitions you’re most likely to find steel weight plates measured in kilograms (KG) to keep consistent with international standards. The steel plates are also painted with colors that correspond to the weight.
Traditional weight plates may come in different shapes, sizes and materials but they have some common benefits over bumper plates as a whole. Let’s take a look at the advantages of traditional plates have over bumper plates.
Bumper plates were created in response to Olympic weightlifting where lifters often drop the bar after a (un)successful lift. Bumper plates made their way to the mainstream with the rise of Crossfit. These plates are made to withstand the impact of hitting the floor. Bumper plates have a metal core that is covered by rubber or urethane.
Crumb Rubber Bumper Plates
Also referred to as recycled rubber, this material has been recycled at some point, often from used then discarded tires. This recycled rubber might be used to cover traditional weight plates, bumper plates and even the flooring in the gym. This recycled rubber is produced from discarded tires that have been ground up then mixed with a binding agent. From there the material is solidified using heat and pressure. The binding substance used will influence the quality of the rubber as well as affect the smell. Make sure to check reviews of particular suppliers as different binding agents and processing methods can lead to a strong smell that might not dissipate with time.
Urethane Bumper Plates
These bumper plates are increasingly being favored by many gyms. There are a few factors contributing to urethane bumper plates becoming more prominent in usage. The price has declined over recent years and they are extremely durable. Urethane is resistant to scratches and scuffing so the aesthetics will stay for years. Urethane has no distinguishable smell which is a plus. It also has a thinner coating, allowing you to stack the barbell with more weights with the weight distribution being closer to the center of the bar making it more stable.
Virgin Rubber Bumper Plates
These plates are made from new rubber that has little to no smell as binding substances aren’t used in the manufacturing process. These rubber bumper plates are super durable and should last longer than the crumb rubber plates.
As you can see there are a variety of bumper plates. The benefits of bumper plates over traditional plates are:
Check out our post that covers the Best Bumper Plates on the market!
Unlike traditional weight plates that can come in a number of shapes, bumper plates are only available in round shape. This is because bumper plates are often dropped so they need to have smooth edges so that they bounce back evenly. Another difference is that all weight sizes of bumper plates will have the same diameter unlike iron plates, once again due to the dropping factor. As mentioned before, traditional plates sometimes come with built in handles but bumper plates are always solid which makes a little more difficult to handle if moving the larger plates. Another very visible difference between bumper plates and traditional plates is color.
Traditional plates even if covered in urethane or rubber almost certainly be black or dark gray whereas bumper plates can come in some very vibrant colors. Because bumper plates all have the same diameter it can be difficult to tell them apart, this is where the color comes into play. Many manufacturers will use the color schemes that have been standardized by the IPF (International Powerlifting Federation) and the IWF (international Weightlifting Federation).Also, weights 10kg and up must be 450mm or 18 inches in diameter.
Manufacturers these days are sometimes marking the weights with the colors or dispersing pieces of colored rubber in the plate rather than having solid colors.
Bumper plate official colors and corresponding weights are:
Specialty weight plates have specific uses. These plates can be used by professionals for international competitions or used by beginners for training purposes. The types of specialty weight plates that we’ll cover are:
Competition weight plates are meant for exactly that, competition. These plates are often referred to as calibrated plates. The main difference between iron weight plates and competition plates is the weight tolerance. Competition plates need to be within 10 grams or .02 pounds within the marked weight. Non-competition weight plates can range from 1% up to 10% from the stated weight.
Competition weight plates have a visible metal center to allow for weight adjustment to match exactly what it should be. At the end of the day if you feel comfortable spending the money on competition weight plates then go for it but it’s generally not needed unless you’re a professional lifter.
Fractional weight plates can be made from a variety of materials but usually steel is the chosen material. This is because it’s easier to create a more precise measurement using steel. The main use of fractional weight plates is to add relatively low increments of weight. These fractional plates are sometimes referred to as change plates. Some people might view these as unnecessary but if you consider the concept of progressive overload then you’ll understand that small progressions are important. In order to get stronger, you need to gradually add weight to your lifts or increase total volume. Fractional weight plates usually come in sets in the following sizes:
In the US:
Outside of the US:
What are Wagon Wheel Plates?
You won’t find these weight plates in many gyms apart from powerlifting gyms. These large oversized heavy weight plates look like wagon wheels, hence the name. The main utility of these plates is to help get the barbell higher off the ground to aid in deadlifts making the range of motion shorter from bottom to top. Another marginal benefit of these plates it that they may be easier to load and unload off the barbell instead of using another tool such as a deadlift jack.
What are Technique Plates?
These plates are lighter and cheaper compared with all the other weight plates mentioned. Technique plates are made to allow people to simulate lifting technique and form without actually lifting heavy plates thus reducing any chances of injury. The diameter will remain the same as other plates and are usually made of plastic. On the high end these plates can be 5kg or 10lbs.
Can I use standard weight plates on an Olympic barbell?
No! Standard weight plates have a one-inch diameter center so they won’t fit on the two-inch Olympic barbell. This is true vice versa. Traditional iron plates shouldn’t be used on standard barbells because the center hole is double the diameter of the bar. This would be dangerous as the weight plates would be moving around and can slide of the bar much easier.
Why are plates 45 pounds?
If you’re American you might’ve always wondered, “why are weight plates 45lbs not 50lbs?”. This is mainly due to the fact in Olympic weightlifting all lifts are measured in kilograms. 20 kilogram weight plates are the largest plates allowed. Thus, 20kg equals 44 lbs which is close to 45lbs.
How much is 3 plates on each side?
If you’re in the U.S. 3 plates on each side would be 315 total pounds or roughly 143 kilograms. If you’re outside the U.S. then 3 plates on each side would be 140 kilograms or 308 pounds.
Another common question is, “how much weight is two plates on each side?”. In this case it would be 225lbs in the U.S. and 100kgs outside the U.S. There are free online weight plate calculators that can help you figure how many plates of what weight you should add to the barbell to get to desired total weight.
How much do weight plates cost?
Weight plate prices differ from brand to brand and the type of plate being purchased. As a general rule of thumb most plates will range from $1.25/lb up to $5/lb. Cast iron plates are usually the cheapest weight plates available. While competition calibrated steel plates are the most expensive. The average price for traditional weight plates hovers around $1.50/lb while bumper plates are around $2/lb.
One thing to keep in mind is that the lighter weights usually cost more per pound. To compete with Amazon these days many gym equipment sellers are offering free shipping which gets baked into the final price. With that being said, a 250lb set of traditional iron plates will cost $450-650 to your door. While the same set of 250lb bumper plates can range from $600-900.
Who should use bumper plates?
Everyone can use bumper plates but they are specially made for those who are doing Olympic lifts where the bar can be dropped on the ground frequently. You’re guaranteed to see bumper plates in any Crossfit gym you walk into but big box gyms usually have traditional iron or iron coated plates due to the lower costs. People who are concerned with noise emanating from banging plates or those who want to avoid damaging the floor should buy bumper plates.
Why are weights so expensive?
Weights are expensive because the materials used to make them; iron, steel, rubber or urethane are expensive materials. Expensive starting materials plus building a durable product that should last a lifetime doesn’t equate to cheap. Another factor that plays a part in the price of weight plates, barbells, kettlebells, steel maces etc. is the concept of supply and demand. Recently there’s been a high demand for weights as more people are ditching the gym, opting to build a home gym.
What weight plates should I buy for a home gym?
It depends on your fitness level, how much you can lift and budget. First you should determine how much you can lift on the bigger compound lifts such as deadlifts, squats and bench press then go from there. You should buy a iron or bumper weight plate set that can accommodate at least your starting strength then you can add onto your set from there. The standard weight plates set regardless of iron plates or bumper plates is as follows:
These weight plates plus a standard Olympic barbell which is 45lbs or 20kg will give you a total weight of 300lbs or 122kgs respectively.
Can you mix iron plates and bumper plates?
Yes, you can load the barbell using a mixture of bumper plates and iron plates. This can be helpful in protecting your floor and sometimes your barbell from potential damage. It's important to make sure you're adding the same amount of weights to both sides of the bar.
We hope that you have a better understanding of the types of weight plates available on the market. Before you go out and buy a weight plate set make sure you take into consideration the multiple variables that will point you in the right direction for choosing the correct weight plates. Just remember that it's always better really think about your needs then to buy once as most weight plates should last a lifetime.
June 30, 2021
At first, you might think buying dumbbells is pretty straightforward, but once you actually start shopping around, you will find that there are SO MANY options to choose from. As such, we decided to put together this extensive guide on all the different types of dumbbells. You will literally learn everything you need to know about the various styles of dumbbells below. We hope that this information will help you determine what kind of dumbbell is best for your home gym, commercial gym, hotel gym, Crossfit box or fitness studio.
There are two main categories of dumbbells - fixed dumbbells and adjustable dumbbells.
However, it is definitely not as simple as that. Within those two main categories, there are a lot of different options to choose from, each with advantages and disadvantages.
Below we will cover everything you need to know about all of the different types of fixed-weight and adjustable dumbbells available on the market. Afterward, we will determine which options are the best for home gyms, commercial gyms, CrossFit boxes, and other fitness studios.
Fixed weight dumbbells consist of a handle that is welded onto two single cast bells. So, they have a set weight that can't be changed, hence the name fixed dumbbell.
There are many different kinds of fixed weight dumbbells that you can choose from. Fixed weight dumbbells have different shapes, materials and weight ranges. So, let's discuss each of these points.
There are four main shapes for fixed weight dumbbells.
Note: Shape has nothing to do with the weight of a dumbbell. The shape specifically refers to the two identical bells at the end of dumbbells.
Hex, round, and 12-sided fixed dumbbells are the most common.
Let’s go over the pros and cons of the different shapes. This will be specifically about the shape of the bells, nothing else.
As the name suggests, hex dumbbells have 6 flat sides.
Another thing to consider about hexagon dumbbells is that the vast majority have contoured (ergonomic) handles rather than straight handles and they are not fully knurled.
A round dumbbell has a perfectly circular shape.
Round dumbbells can be found with different handles. You can find them with contoured and partly knurled handles like hex dumbbells or with straight and fully knurled handles.
12-sided dumbbells have 12 sides, but they actually look quite similar to round dumbbells because they have a gradually curved surface. This gives them the same pros as round dumbbells but also some pros of the hex dumbbells.
12 sided dumbbells can be found with both partly knurled contoured handles and straight handles that are fully knurled.
SQUARE & SPECIALITY SHAPES
If you search around, you can find square dumbbells and other speciality shapes like teardrop shaped dumbbells or the old-old school style round ones like the pic above.
We won’t go into the speciality shapes as they are pretty rare.
So, the pros and cons for square dumbbells are as follows...
With all of the above options comes different materials.
You have different metals and coatings.
METALS (Cast Iron vs Steel):
Fixed dumbbells are made of either a single one-piece mold of cast iron or stainless steel. However, they can have both, with the handles beings stainless steel and the bells cast iron.
Either way, even if there is a rubber coating, the core is made of metal, with exception to certain plastic vinyl dumbbells that use concrete or sand on the inside.
Both cast iron and steel are good metals for dumbbells, but stainless steel is superior because it is more rust resistant and durable. That said, the vast majority of bells are made from cast iron because it is easier and less expensive to produce, and generally speaking, it is perfectly durable.
When it comes to hex dumbbells, you can find them with and without rubber coating on the bells. However, these days rubber coated bells are more common.
Note: Studio style light neoprene dumbbells and vinyl plastic dumbbells can also have a hex shape but they are not considered hex dumbbells. Hex dumbbells refer to the heavy duty dumbbells.
Round fixed dumbbells that you see in many commercial gyms are typically coated with urethane, but some may be rubber.
You also have prostyle dumbbells (a configuration of plates bolted onto the ends), which are also round dumbbells, and they can be pure metal with a chrome or oxide coating, rubber coated with steel handles, entirely cast iron, or entirely steel.
Let’s go over each of the coatings to see which is best.
RUST RESISTANT PAINT ENAMEL OR FLAT FINISH
A lot of old school style hex dumbbells and prostyle dumbbells are just straight metal.
For hex dumbbells, cast iron with a painted enamel finish is the most common.
For prostyle dumbbells, they have a flat finish of black or zinc oxide, chrome, or just pure stainless steel. This makes them more rust-resistant.
Some people like these all-metal dumbbells because they have that raw and gritty look and feel. They are also good for people who are allergic or sensitive to latex.
The downside of not having a rubber coating is that you can’t (or shouldn’t) drop these dumbbells on the floor.
Moreover, for cast iron dumbbells, the coating can scratch, chip and wear away, which will lead to rust. If you leave them outside, this will only speed up the rusting process.
Note: Rust can be sanded off, but it's a pain in the butt to do.
Most hex dumbbells these days are produced with a rubber coating on the bells.
The rubber is either a synthetic or made from tree sap. However, most dumbbells use rubber that is recycled. Because of this, they can have an odor at first.
The rubber is ideal because it protects the dumbbell when dropping it to the floor. If you lift heavy, you are likely to drop the dumbbells to the floor from time to time. Another good thing about rubber coated dumbbells is they protect the metal from rust.
The only reason you should get a cast iron hex dumbbell over a rubber coated hex dumbbell is if you are allergic to rubber or you really want that old school vibe. Besides that, rubber coated hex dumbbells are superior to their uncoated counterparts.
While urethane falls into the rubber category, it is not quite a rubber. Urethane fills the gap between plastic and rubber. It’s very pliable and impact resistant because of this.
Overall, urethane coated dumbbells are considerably superior to rubber dumbbells because the material is much more durable. They are longer lasting and capable of withstanding the effects of outdoor conditions like exposure to sunlight far better than traditional rubber. Moreover, urethane is odorless.
The only downside to urethane is that it is more expensive.
As for what dumbbells use urethane. The round or 12-sided heavy duty fixed dumbbells you find at commercial gyms are made from urethane, where as the hex dumbbells are usually commercial grade rubber. That said, you may find some round or 12-sided dumbbells with rubber coating rather than urethane, so be sure to check the description.
Are urethane dumbbells worth it?
Most people do just fine with traditional rubber dumbbells, but urethane will last much longer. If you use and abuse your dumbbells, urethane is a much better option than rubber. So, they are worth it if money is not an issue to you. If you have an upscale gym, you definitely want urethane dumbbells.
**Note for Sellers: Urethane dumbbells offer the best opportunity for branding. The wide round sides of the dumbbells make for the perfect logo placement.**
Neoprene dumbbells are their own category of dumbbells. They are the light weight dumbbells used for studio classes or beginners, typically ranging from 1-15lbs.
The dumbbells are made from cast iron and then they are dipped into brightly colored neoprene. Neoprene is a synthetic polymer.
Neoprene is pliable, so the dumbbells are comfortable to use. You can hold onto them for long periods of time without discomfort to the hands.
Neoprene also makes the dumbbells rust proof and you can drop them down.
The only downside to neoprene dumbbells is that they can wear down over time simply from using them. Not a big deal, but something to note.
Vinyl dumbbells are used in the same way as neoprene. They are light dumbbells for beginner or aerobic classes.
Much of the same benefits of neoprene dumbbells apply to vinyl dumbbells. The big difference is that neoprene is significantly more durable. Vinyl dumbbells can split and crack easier.
So, if you are looking for light dumbbells for aerobic style workouts, neoprene is the better option.
Note: Some vinyl coated dumbbells will have concrete at the core rather than metal (neoprene dumbbells will always be cast iron at the core).
A lot of rubber dumbbells use a chrome coating for the handles to avoid rust as cast iron is pretty easy to rust.
However, there are also all-chrome dumbbells, as pictured above.
You are not going to find chrome dumbbells at commercial gyms. They are typically meant for home gyms.
They are known as “beauty bells” because they shine attractively.
These dumbbells are made of solid steel or cast iron with a chrome finishing, and they have a round bell.
They tend to weigh anywhere from 3 to 50lbs, but usually they are on the lighter side. This makes them more similar to the studio-style dumbbells. It’s kind of like an in-between of heavy duty hex/round dumbbells and neoprene aerobic dumbbells.
While chrome dumbbells may look good to some people, the finishing will wear down eventually. You shouldn’t leave these dumbbells outside.
We really don’t recommend chrome dumbbells unless you like the look and you only need light to medium weights.
The most commonly bought fixed dumbbells are Hex Dumbbells, Urethane Round/12-Sided Dumbbells, Prostyle Dumbbells, and Neoprene Dumbbells.
Hex dumbbells are either rubber coated or entirely cast iron. The handles are usually contoured with partial knurling on chrome plating.
The good thing about hex dumbbells is they are versatile and the most affordable option for heavy duty dumbbells. This makes them ideal for gyms looking to save on costs and serious lifters who want to use fixed dumbbells at home.
Hex dumbbells typically range from 2.5lb-150lb.
Note: Hex dumbbells usually have smaller increments in weight in the 0-20lb range than commercial style round dumbbells.
Commercial-style round or 12 sided dumbbells are heavy duty dumbbells with urethane covering the bells. They can have either straight handles with full knurling or contoured handles with partial knurling. Typically the handles are solid steel.
These are the most durable dumbbells you can get thanks to the urethane coating. You can use and abuse these without concern.
With that, they are expensive, so usually only commercial gyms go for them. But, if you have the money, they are worth it. They will pretty much last forever.
Weight for these dumbbells range from 5lb-200lb.
Note: Because of the round, flat design, these dumbbells will be a little more compact than hex dumbbells of equal weight.
If you like a classic professional look, prostyle dumbbells will definitely catch your eyes. These have been around since the 80s, at a time when they were the go-to dumbbell at commercial gyms.
Some prostyle dumbbells may look like adjustable dumbbells (as seen above), but they are not. They are pre-assembles, so the pancake-style plates are set on the handles and the ends are bolted in extremely tight so they will never come loose during use.
That said, they are actually semi-permanent fixed dumbbells, meaning you could unbolt them, even though they are not meant to be.
The handles are always the perfect length so they are flush to the last plate. Plus, they usually have end caps just to ensure a perfectly smooth edge (which you won’t get with plate-loaded adjustable dumbbells).
Besides looking badass, there are advantages to prostyle dumbbells. They aren’t as lengthy as hex dumbbells and the weight is more evenly distributed across this shorter span. Because of this, they put less stress on your wrist. This is especially apparent at heavier weights and it gives a mechanical advantage over hex dumbbells.
Another reason people like prostyle dumbbells is they come in very heavy weights. You can get them in sizes from 5-200lbs. Also, the handles are made of steel and they are straight and deeply knurled.
As for coatings, most have metal plates, but you can find them with rubber coated metal plates as well.
Note: Some sellers will call their round rubber coated dumbbells prostyle dumbbells. They will look similar to round urethane dumbbells rather than the bolted-on-plates prostyle look. In essence, these are just round rubber coated cast iron dumbbells (with flat steel handles), but they are also good.
The only downfall to prostyle dumbbells is they are expensive. Similarly priced as the newer round commercial-style urethane dumbbells. And, they are not ideal for ground exercises as the plates are round.
Where to buy? Check out York, Troy, or American Fitness for Prostyle Dumbbells.
PRICE (least expensive to most expensive):
Prostyle and round urethane dumbbells are typically 2+ times the price of hex dumbbells.
DURABILITY (most durable to least durable):
STYLE & SHAPE (best style and shape):
It’s hard to give a winner for this because hex would be more versatile in the sense that you can use them for ground based exercises but prostyle and round urethane dumbbells are more compact which makes them better for pressing movements and other exercises like curls.
What about neoprene, vinyl and chrome?
Neoprene, vinyl and even chrome fixed dumbbells are in their own category because they are light weight and not used for serious lifters like the heavy duty fixed dumbbells we just went over.
Neoprene dumbbells are good for people who just want some light weight dumbbells that are comfortable. They range from 1-20lbs (although 15lbs as a max is more common for most sellers) and they are brightly colored.
A gym may have a set of neoprene dumbbells for certain beginners and women who want lighter dumbbells than urethane or prostyle dumbbells come in. They are also good for women who want to workout at home and aerobic studio classes.
Neoprene dumbbells typically sell for less than hex dumbbells per pound.
Note: Vinyl dumbbells are pretty similar in price as neoprene dumbbells, but chrome (if you are able to find them in stock as most sellers don’t bother with them much) will be more expensive per pound. Moreover, chrome dumbbells can be a little heavier, but overall, if you are considering getting heavy chrome dumbbells, just go for hex dumbbells.
NOTE: Fixed dumbbells have a 3% weight tolerance. So the actual weight of the dumbbell may be + or - 3% the labeled weight.
The general consensus is, you have the space and the budget, fixed dumbbells are by far the best bet. This is why commercial gyms have fixed dumbbells not adjustable dumbbells.
Be that as it may, most people who train at home don’t have the space or the desire to spend 5-10 times more for fixed dumbbells. That’s where adjustable dumbbells come into play...
Adjustable dumbbells have two categories - plate loaded and selectorized adjustable dumbbells.
Plate loaded dumbbells consist of an individual handle with individual plates that can be loaded onto the handle and secured manually using some form of a locking mechanism (a collar). Essentially, it’s like a mini barbell.
Selectorized dumbbells are adjustable dumbbells that allow for the number of plates to be easily changed in their stand with some sort of mechanism such as a pin or dial. So, all selectorized dumbbells have a special stand that you place the handle onto and then select the weight you want so that when you lift up the handle, the selected weight (plates) will be attached to the handle and the other plates will be left in the stand.
Let’s go over both plate loaded and selectorized dumbbells more in-depth...
There are four main styles of plate loaded dumbbells:
Spinlock dumbbells are pretty easy to load and unload. You just spin the collar on the end after you place the weights on the handle and they are good to go. And yes, they are perfectly safe as long as you get them on tight. As for price, they are among the most affordable adjustable dumbbells you can get.
Dimensions are as follows. The heavy duty spin lock dumbbells come in 14” and 18” sizes. They are typically made from steel with a chrome finish. They take standard plates, which are 1”.
The max bar rating for spinlock dumbbells are 80kg, which is way more than enough. However, most recommend up to 100lbs.
Overall, spinlocks are great. The only thing to really dislike about them is that the ends protrude so they can get in the way, and it can be very disconcerting to use them for exercises like dumbbell pullovers as you need to put trust in the spinlocks keeping the plates on.
Olympic style dumbbells have olympic sized sleeves, which are 2”. They are like mini Olympic barbells. Thus, you can use Olympic barbell plates for them and barbell collars or clips.
So, if you have barbell plates already, then you can just get an Olympic style dumbbell handle and you are good to go.
You can get Olympic dumbbells in 20” and 14” lengths. That’s the total length, including the sleeves. The handles for both lengths will be approximately 7”.
The load capacity is around 100lbs.
The biggest advantage of Olympic dumbbells is that if you already have an Olympic barbell and plates then you can just buy the dumbbell handle. You don’t need to buy plates too. The biggest downfall to these is that they are a little unwieldy for certain exercises, as you can imagine. Also, the weight of the handle alone is 10lbs or 15lbs depending on the length.
Compression ring collar dumbbells are just like spinlock dumbbells but they use a compression ring collar rather than the spinning collar. With that, the 1” “sleeves” are smooth, not threaded. Most people agree that the spinlocks feel safer than the compression ring collars because they are on a threaded bar so they would need to spin down the threads before the weight could fall off even if they did happen to come loose.
These will be hard to find as spinlocks are much more popular.
The Ironmaster Quick Lock is a very innovative adjustable dumbbells.
The size of the Ironmaster is great. Very similar to a fixed dumbbell. Moreover, they have a flat end cap that screws into the handle rather than onto the handle, which allows the ends of the dumbbell to have a flat base similar to a fixed dumbbell. This is the only plate loaded dumbbell without protruding ends.
The shape of the plates makes them versatile as well. They are compact and they don’t roll, which makes them good for ground based exercises.
It’s very easy to adjust the weights, hence the name Quick Lock. AND, they go up as heavy as 165lbs (5-165lbs).
The only downside to these is they are considerably more expensive than the other plate loaded adjustable dumbbells.
Where to buy? You can buy this on Ironmaster's website. The price is $749.
HIGHEST WEIGHT LOAD CAPACITY:
BEST SIZE & SHAPE:
PRICE (least expensive to most expensive):
If budget isn’t a concern, the Ironmaster Quick Lock adjustable dumbbell is the best adjustable dumbbell there is. They are extremely secure, durable, and can be used for all dumbbell exercises without issues.
When it comes to selectorized dumbbells, you have four main types:
Let’s go over each of the types and then do a little "comparison test" of all 4 to see which is the best option.
Powerblock dumbbells are one of the most popular selectorized dumbbells. Most would say it is the best option.
It uses a sort of lever system. You just slide the pin into the side slots, using the associated color code found at the top to see what the weight is, and then lift the handle up from the stand and you are ready to go.
They have an unusual rectangular profile, which does inhibits a few movements, but it makes up for that with compactness (compared to other selectorized dumbbells), its flat ends, durability and overall value.
These are made from quality material and have very few moving parts in terms of the mechanism (thus less susceptible to damage if dropped). So it should last a very long time.
The Powerblock model’s base kit ranges from 5-50lbs with 2.5 increments. Great for progressive overloading. It also has an expansion kit that you can buy that will take the total weight up to 90lbs per dumbbell (no other selectorized dumbbell can go this high).
With just the base kit alone, you have what would be 28 pairs of fixed dumbbells! Think of all that space saved. It’s also about 10 times less than what fixed dumbbells of the same weight increments would be. If you consider shipping, it’s even more of a cost saver, as Powerblocks ship in one box rather than a ton of boxes like sets of fixed dumbbells do.
The Bowflex adjustable dumbbell is the most popular of the dial type selectorized dumbbells. In fact, it is probably the most popular of selectorized dumbbell there is thanks to the Bowflex name and its competitive price.
They take on the shape of a regular dumbbell, but it is bulky (more than the pic would suggest). The adjustments to weight are made on the side of the dumbbell using a dial.
The max weight is 52.5lbs. The weight increments are in 2.5lbs, starting at 5lbs to 25lbs, then from 25lbs to 50lbs it jumps by 5lbs increments, and a single 2.5 increment from 50lb to 52.5lb.
The Bowflex is not the most durable as it has multiple gears on both sides of the dumbbell. You wouldn’t want to drop it. However, the price and the ease of use still makes it a good value.
Glide type selectorized dumbbells use a gliding mechanism to adjust the weight which is placed in a slot between the top of the plates. It is the fastest to adjust of all selectorized dumbbells.
The weight ranges from 5-50lbs, with only 5lb weight increments (although some models have different increments). So, it would equal to 10 pairs of fixed dumbbells.
One of the weird things about the glide type selectorized dumbbells is its center of gravity is off. So, when getting into position for a lift, you need to make sure the plates are facing down or else it will shift that way and it can throw you off balance.
Note: These are hard to find in the 5-50lb range. Most sellers on Amazon only have the glide type selectorized dumbbell in 5-25lbs.
The twist type selectorized dumbbells are adjusted by twisting the handle. Like all selectorized dumbbells, this is done from inside its stand.
The twist type ranges from 5-45lbs or 50lbs, and they usually have around 12 weight increments.
One thing to note is the increments for twist types are usually super random.
For example, it jumps from 5lb to 8.3lb to 9.2lb to 12.5lb to 11.5lb (again, SUPER RANDOM). This isn’t a huge issue, but it’s not ideal obviously. It makes progressive overloading a little weird.
One of the good things about the twist type is it feels durable and sturdy, the shape is good and pretty compact, and it is super quick to adjust the weight as you just need to twist the handle.
Now, let’s match the four selectorized dumbbells up based on speed, increments, shape, durability, and price.
PRICE (least expensive to most expensive):
With the above considerations, the best to worst selectorized dumbbell options rank as follows:
Block wins the two most important categories too, the shape and durability. Block type is also the only type that has an expansion kit that allows you to increase the weight to 90lbs (base kit is 5-50lb)
The best thing about adjustable dumbbells are they will save you a lot of money and space. It’s pretty much as simple as that.
A full set of dumbbells, even just 5-50lbs, will be run you over $1,500, whereas even the most expensive adjustable dumbbell set is sub $600.
For plate loaded dumbbells, you can get a super bargain, by just buying the handle for around $50 and finding plates on craigslist or Amazon for cheap.
What’s more, shipping for an adjustable dumbbell set will be far cheaper than fixed dumbbells. After all, the total weight and volume of the shipment will be significantly greater for fixed dumbbells.
In terms of space, a full set of dumbbells with a rack will take up about 20 times more space than a set of adjustable dumbbells. Unless you have plenty of space, this is definitely something to consider.
The downside of adjustable dumbbells are they aren’t as durable, convenient, or versatile.
Overall, an adjustable dumbbell is good for someone who has limited space and budget, because if you have the space and money is not a concern, then fixed dumbbells are the way to go. Unfortunately, for most home gyms, space and budget is a concern.
PROS AND CONS OF PLATE LOADED DUMBBELLS
When comparing plate loaded dumbbells to selectorized dumbbells...
PROS AND CONS OF SELECTORIZED DUMBBELLS
When comparing selectorized dumbbells to plate loaded dumbbells...
When deciding between selectorized dumbbells and plate loaded dumbbells, the main things to consider are budget, speed of adjustments, and durability. If durability and budget are most important, then plate loaded is best. If speed and ease of use is your primary concern, then selectorized dumbbells will be the best choice for you.
Let’s go over the best options for home gyms, commercial gyms, CrossFit boxes, and studio classes.
What are the best dumbbells for home gyms?
The best dumbbells for home gyms will be fixed hex rubber dumbbells if you have the space and budget. We choose hex dumbbells because they are more affordable than urethane and prostyle dumbbells and they are perfectly durable and you can do everything with them. It’s the best bang for a home gym’s buck. If space and/or budget is a concern, then plate-loaded or selectorized adjustable dumbbells are the way to go.
What are the best dumbbells for commercial gyms?
The best dumbbells for commercial gyms are urethane dumbbells, which will likely be round or 12-sided dumbbells. These are the most durable and long lasting of all dumbbells. Moreover, they are perfectly shaped for all dumbbell exercises.
If you want your commercial gyms to have an old-school style vibe, then you can also consider prostyle dumbbells. Prostyle dumbbells are a great choice.
If your gym is more of a “budget” gym (or hotel gym), then rubber hex dumbbells will do.
What are the best dumbbells for Crossfit boxes?
Crossfit boxes will do best with rubber hex dumbbells as a lot of Crossfit exercises involve ground based exercises. The dumbbells won’t be the primary tool like they will for commercial gyms, so hex dumbbells will be perfectly adequate for all a Crossfit boxes needs. What’s more, a Crossfit box will likely want multiple pairs of dumbbells of the same sizes, so it's a far more affordable approach to get hex dumbbells than urethane.
All in all, rubber hex dumbbells are the way to go for Crossfit boxes.
What are the best dumbbells for studio classes?
Studio classes will want durable, light weight dumbbells that are compact and comfortable on the hands, so neoprene dumbbells will be the best option, although vinyl dumbbells will be adequate as well.
We will first go over some brands that you can check out for the various types of dumbbells we discussed above, then we will show you some of the best options on Amazon as well.
BUY DIRECT FROM BRAND'S WEBSITES
BUY ON AMAZON
***This article contains affiliate ads where we will make a small commission on any purchase you make. We only recommend brands and products that we trust and have experience using.**
PLATE LOADED DUMBBELLS:
June 06, 2021
Now that gyms are opening up again, it’s time for me to get back to the squat rack. I’m noticing more and more people these days wearing some type of wrap or sleeves on their knees, it got me thinking a few things.
Well, I did some digging and long story short, knee wraps can boost your squat while knee sleeves are used to keep the muscles warm, increase blood flow, improve stability and reduce knee pain/swelling.
This article will take a deeper dive into these lifting accessories and explore the pros and cons, plus give some tips of how to use them best.
WHAT IS THE KNEE AND HOW DOES IT WORK?
Before we get into the nitty gritty of knee wraps and knee sleeves, we should probably go over the anatomy of the knee and how it works. The knee joint is the largest joint in the human body. It is a hinge type synovial joint that allows for flexion and extension as well as a small amount of medial and lateral rotation. The knee enables us to sit, stand up, squat, run and jump. There are three bones in the knee including the femur, tibia and shin bone. The synovial fluid in the knee joint provides the much-needed lubrication and nutrient delivery of this extremely active joint.
Besides the three bones that comprise the knee, there are articulating surfaces, menisci, bursae and ligaments. We won’t get into a full anatomy lesson but there are many components that keep the knee functioning properly. The two lifting accessories we will cover; knee wraps and knee sleeves have drastically different effects on the knee.
No, all three of these accessories aren’t the same and they should be used in different circumstances. Although they may look similar and are all used on the knee, they have some major differences.
Let’s take a quick look at how knee wraps, knee sleeves and knee braces shouldn’t be confused.
Knee Wraps: A long strip of elastic canvas that is wrapped around the knee joint to improve squat performance, sometimes up to as much as 75lbs. Knee wraps have a very specific usage; add power and strength to your back squat aiding you in setting a new 1 rep max.
Knee Sleeves: A sleeve that slips over the knee to provide heat and compression. This helps to improve blood flow, reduce pain and swelling and keep the joint warmed up. Knee sleeves can help prevent injury and are a versatile tool as they allow for more movement while also providing extra stability. Some people use knee sleeves to alleviate mild pain like arthritis.
Knee Braces: A brace that comes in different shapes and designs. There are various types of knee braces, some with rigid structures like hinges that help protect knees after previous injuries or surgeries. Knee braces usually provide limited range of motion to help people slowly regain their knee strength. If you need a knee brace then your orthopedic doctor can recommend the best knee brace for your situation.
Time to get to the good stuff, battle of the knee accessories, which reigns supreme. The short answer; if you are trying to set a new PR or max back squats then knee wraps should be the go to choice. One the other hand (or knee) if you're looking for a weightlifting accessory to help prevent injury, improve stability and reduce pain then knee sleeves are for you.
WHAT ARE KNEE WRAPS?
Knee wraps are usually made of a polyester canvas with interlaced with rubber filaments. Most knee wraps you will find online these days are around 72 inches or longer and have a width of around 3 inches. Knee wraps can be wrapped in a number of ways. Knee wrapping methods are usually based on personal preference although there are some common practices. To complete the wrapping, they will be secured by Velcro (hook & loop) or by tucking in or tying the loose end. Knee wraps restrict movement of the knee joint and give an extra boost of power on the back side of a squat. They also can help to reduce the stress and tension placed on the knee joint and the quadriceps during back squats.
BENEFITS OF KNEE WRAPS
Using the footage of a high-speed camera the researchers found that the wraps helped to reduce the horizontal barbell displacement by 39%. A lower horizontal barbell displacement is good because it will increase the squat efficiency, because it means as the bar is being lowered there is less range in the horizontal movement. The knee wraps also helped to increase the eccentric portion of the squat by 45%; most likely due to the transfer of elastic energy from the knee wrap. Lastly, the there was an increase in peak power of 10%.
Knee wraps should not be worn during the strength and conditioning process, and perceived weakness in the knee joint should be assessed and treated.
*One thing they noted was that knee wraps change back squat technique so it can potentially lead to injury.
ARE KNEE WRAPS BAD FOR YOU?
As in most things in life you have to take the good with the bad. Knee wraps can help you lift more weight as they aid in bouncing back from the bottom position of the squat as they store and release elastic energy helping to push you up.
Knee wraps don’t actually make you stronger and can be dangerous in certain situations because they are restrictive, adding to more friction between the cartilage and the patella. If you have weak knees or knee pain, these wraps can make it worst, possibly even creating joint issues such as arthritis. Also, as mentioned above knee wraps can drastically change the mechanics of a squat, altering the targeted musculature, therefore knee wraps can have some negative effects on the knee joint.
WHAT ARE RUSSIAN KNEE WRAPS?
Russian knee wraps are usually made from a mix of cotton PAN, PEF or PES and Lycra. These wraps are much thinner usually a bit longer than traditional knee wraps. Russian knee wraps are good for Olympic lifts and deeper squats where the thinner more flexible material will allow for a wider range of motion. And as in the namesake, you will often see the Russian powerlifters using these types of knee wraps.
HOW AND WHEN TO USE KNEE WRAPS?
Knee wraps should be used when you are trying to go for big lift, preparing for a powerlifting competition or trying for your 1 rep max. Knee wraps for most people aren’t necessary as they don’t make you stronger and will make your workouts less effective. Your muscles don’t have to work as hard when you’re using knee wraps so you will burn less calories as well.
HOW TO USE KNEE WRAPS
Everyone has their own preference when wrapping their knees but some common methods include the Spiral Method, Sub X Method, Cross Method. It is important to keep tension on the wraps the whole time you’re wrapping your knees.
Sub X Method:
Cross or Figure 8 Method:
NOTE: Either way you choose to wrap your knees you are aiming for the most stretch across the front of your knee and the most compression in the back. Try to wrap them going inwards towards the opposite leg.
WHAT'S THE BEST METHOD TO WRAP YOUR KNEES?
The best way to wrap your knees for squats is considered the cross method as it has been shown to improve the peak torque. Powerlifters might disagree on the best way to wrap the knees for heavier squats as it comes down to personal preference and results for the specific person. Although it is generally agreed up the the normal spiral method of knee wrapping without any crossover produces inferior results.
SQUATTING WITH KNEE WRAPS
Most professional powerlifters won’t wrap their knees until they are ready to start squatting as the pressure on the leg is too much to leave them on for long periods of time.
Knee wraps for lifting has been a mainstay in the powerlifting world for a long time as they can help boost squat performance. Bodybuilders generally don’t rely on using knee wraps for squats because their goal isn’t to add power or overall weight to their squat.
Related: Front Squats vs Back Squats
KNEE WRAPS FOR DEADLIFTS
Knee wraps aren't good for deadlifts because they produce too much compression that can negatively impact the form of the lift. The knee wraps can become an obstacle when moving the bar past your knees and might generate too much energy in propelling you upwards thus locking your knees too fast. Generally, powerlifters don’t use knee wraps for deadlifts but every once in a while, you might see a powerlifter using knee wraps for sumo deadlifts as the mechanics are a little closer to a squat.
ARE KNEE WRAPS ALLOWED IN POWERLIFTING?
The IPF doesn’t allow knee wraps to be used in raw powerlifting competitions. However, some federations may allow the use of knee wraps in competition the rules and specifications can differ place to place. If allowed, most powerlifting competitions don’t allow the knee wrap to go higher than 10cm (4in) above the patella.
KNEE WRAPS FOR PAIN
Knee wraps are not meant to be used to help alleviate any knee pain. The main function of knee wraps is to add weight to your squat. Knee wraps can actually cause pain for some because of the high compression and tension on the knee joint. Knee wraps can aggravate arthritis of the knees, be mindful of using knee wraps if you suffer from any knee issues.
KNEE WRAPS FOR SPORTS
Knee wraps aren’t meant for sports except for powerlifting. Some people might see athletes with something on their knees that they mistake for knee wraps but most likely these are knee sleeves, which we will get into soon. Knee wraps are very restrictive and hinder the range of movement of the knee joint, they apply a high amount of force and pressure leaving little to no benefits using them other than squatting.
SHOULD I WEAR MY KNEE WRAPS FOR MY ENTIRE WORKOUT?
No, you shouldn’t. As mentioned above knee wraps are equipment that should only be used to boost your performance in squats and only at a very specific time. If you’re trying to beat a personal record or are competing in a competition that allow knee wraps then you can use knee wraps to increase your squat. There's no need to use knee wraps for warming up or walking around the gym between exercises.
WHAT ARE KNEE SLEEVES?
Knee sleeves, are just that; Neoprene sleeves that you slide the leg into and pull up over the knees. Knee sleeves are made to allow for maximum comfort and breathe-ability while providing compression on the knee. Knee sleeves don’t put as much pressure or tension on your legs, instead they are meant to keep the joint warm while also providing some compression.
BENEFITS OF KNEE SLEEVES
Knee sleeves have multiple benefits to wearing them. The main function and purpose of knee sleeves is to protect your knees from potential injuries.
DOWNFALLS OF KNEE SLEEVES
There really aren’t any downsides of knee sleeves unless you try to over exert yourself thinking that the knee sleeves will turn you into an Olympic athlete. Something important to note about knee sleeves are that they can help prevent injuries but they aren’t intended to be used for an already injured or unstable knee.
HOW AND WHEN TO USE KNEE SLEEVES
There isn’t much of a learning curve in using knee sleeves as you simply slide your leg in then pull them up until they cover your knee. You should use knees sleeves for specific purposes and not to just use as a buttress of added stability. Knee sleeves are NOT knee braces so use them accordingly. Knee sleeves are good tools for certain sports and weightlifting.
KNEE SLEEVES FOR SQUATS
Yes, you can use knee sleeves while squatting but they won't increase your squat the same extent knee wraps can. Knee sleeves can give you extra support and stability during squats helping to prevent lateral movement. Knee sleeves can help your knee joints stay warm and mobile between squats sets. Beginner to intermediate lifters can use knee sleeves for squats to aid in form and technique. Knee sleeve may act as a placebo for giving you added strength thus increasing the amount you lift.
KNEE SLEEVES FOR DEADLIFTS
Wearing knee sleeves for deadlifts can give the same benefits; keep your knee joints warm, improve blood flow, help with recovery and give extra stability. However, you should be mindful when using knee sleeves for deadlifting because you will want to choose thinner knee sleeves so the bar can clear your knees with ease. Some lifters even use knee sleeves on their shins to protect their shins from scraping against the barbell. And in some cases, people use knee sleeves to game the system during competition as it’s hard to tell if the knees are completely locked out at the top of the deadlift. Overall, knees sleeves can be a great tool to use when deadlifting.
Related: 11 Deadlift Variations
CAN KNEE SLEEVES BE USED IN POWERLIFTING?
Yes, the IPF allows certain knee sleeves in raw powerlifting competitions. Knee sleeves should be made of Neoprene and shouldn’t exceed 30 cm(11.8in) in length or be thicker than 7mm. Rules can vary between different federations and competitions so it’s best to check the regulations on a case-by-case basis.
KNEE SLEEVES FOR CROSSFIT
You could probably walk into any Crossfit box in the world and you will se a few people using knee sleeves. Knee sleeves have the same benefits for Crossfit, they will help to warm up your knee joint faster and can provide faster recovery after a brutal WOD.
KNEE SLEEVES FOR BASKETBALL
You might see many NBA players wearing knee sleeves or leg sleeves these days because of the benefits of protecting knee from injury and helping to improve blood flow and stability. The amount of running and jumping can really take a toll on basketball player’s knees, so it’s no wonder why these accessories have become so popular.
KNEE SLEEVES FOR RUNNING
Similar to the benefits of using knee sleeves for Crossfit, using knee sleeves for running is good because they can give you added support and improve the blood flow in your joints thus aiding in quicker recovery after a long run. There are many types of knee sleeves with different thicknesses, and design so if you use knee sleeves to run in then make sure you read various reviews before purchasing.
KNEE SLEEVES FOR PAIN
Knee sleeves can help reduce pain and swelling as the compression they offer improves blood flow to the knee joint. Some people with mild knee pain or arthritis use knee sleeves for pain management because of the compression on the patella tendon. Knee sleeves aren’t meant to treat serious injuries or help to rehabilitate people after surgeries.
KNEE SLEEVES FOR ARTHRITIS
Many people find relief from some arthritis pain by using knee sleeves. You should consult with your doctor before purchasing knee sleeves to help with arthritis. Your doctor or orthopedic doctor can better point you in the right direction on the type of knee sleeve you should use, how often you should use it or if you need a knee brace rather than a knee sleeve.
HOW OFTEN SHOULD I WASH MY KNEE SLEEVES?
Knee sleeves are notorious for creating some unpleasant odors. One of the benefits of knee sleeves is that they keep your knee joints warm which means they create more sweat and more sweat tends to equal more stench. Depending on your training frequency, training location and training intensity you should use your best judgment on when it’s time to wash your knee sleeves.
In my experience, my knee sleeves get washed after every workout, but I sweat like a pig in heat. You should be able to throw your knee sleeves into the washing machine and wash with detergent on a gentle cycle. Once washed, air dry your knee sleeves as a cycle in the dryer can damage the integrity of the Neoprene.
WHAT THICKNESS KNEE SLEEVE IS BETTER 5MM OR 7MM?
Knee sleeves usually come in two thicknesses, 5mm and 7mm. You should choose the 5mm thickness if the intended use is for sports or Crossfit as they give support but also let you stay mobile and agile. You should buy the 7mm thick knee sleeve if you are using them to lift heavier weights, trying to beat your PR or competing in a powerlifting contest.
HOW DO I CHOOSE THE RIGHT SIZE KNEE SLEEVES?
When buying knee sleeves, it’s import that you know what size is right for you. Unlike knee wraps that are a one size fits all product, you should measure your leg to choose the right knee sleeve.
Follow this simple 4 step process to get the best knee sleeve for you.
Note: If between sizes you should usually choose the lower size
KNEE PAIN WHEN SQUATTING
One common problem weightlifters suffer from is joint pain. With the knees being the biggest joint in the body and squats being one of the most taxing but necessary exercises in the gym it’s no wonder why so many people experience knee pain from squatting. If you have any of these knee problems you should consult your doctor to see if a knee brace or knee sleeve might help.
Some of the frequent knee problems are:
Choosing the right knee accessory comes down to your knee health the specific fitness goal you have. Simply put, if you’re a powerlifter trying to max out on back squats then knee wraps will be preferred. If you’re an athlete, running a 5K or completing a WOD then you should probably choose the knee sleeves.
If you have more severe pain or are recovering from an injury a knee brace might be your best bet. All in all, your knee health is vital to enjoying many everyday activities. We hope this article helped to inform you and make a better decision on whether you should use knee wraps, knee sleeves or knee braces.
May 13, 2021
Who said you can’t look cool while working out? Maybe you’ve never seen someone working out with a weighted vest on but take our word for it, if used properly, weighted vest workouts won’t only have you looking like a badass, they help you become that badass. In this article we will cover what are weighted vests, the benefits of weighted vests and lastly some weighted vest exercises to turn your workouts up to the next level.
Overall, weighted vests are a great tool for training that can help you lose weight, increase the intensity of your workout and have you looking and feeling better. We won’t go into too many details apart from the benefits of weighted vests as you can read our ultimate weighted vest buying guide. However, after reading this article on the benefits of wearing a weighted vest you might consider adding one to your normal workout routine.
The name is synonymous to what they are; put simply a weighted vest is made of strong material that allows you to add/subtract weight usually in the form of sandbags, custom steel bars or other weighted objects.
Weighted vest training follows the same essential principle of weight training, progressive overload referring to the method of gradually increasing the stress placed on your body to stimulate muscle growth.
Weighted vests are good for adding resistance/weight to exercises in order to increase the difficulty. Wearing a weighted vest while working out has a number of benefits. Weighted vests can make the simplest activities more challenging and rewarding.
We recommend using an adjustable weighted vest so that you have the capability of increasing/decreasing the amount of weight you use. Although it largely depends on the individual, we recommend starting with a weight that’s 5-10% of your body weight until you are comfortable and ready to increase the weight without injuring yourself or negatively impacting your technique.
Like anything else in life weighted vests can be bad for you if not used properly. Make sure to buy a weighted vest that fits you and start with a weight that is challenging yet allows you to do the given exercise with good form and technique. The best weighted vests are based on a few factors that should be determined on a case-by-case basis including fitness level, size of the person and activities where you will be wearing it. It is advised that people with back or neck problems consult with their doctor before using a weighted vest as the extra pressure on the spine could exacerbate the problem. Also, people with osteoporosis should consult their doctor about the pros and cons of using a weighted vest before attempting to workout with one.
Simply put, YES! Weighted vests are the perfect tool for losing weight. They make it more difficult to complete the exercise you’re doing which results in your body expending more calories to produce enough energy to get the job done. Harder workouts require more oxygen rich blood to be pumped into your muscles which makes your heart beat faster resulting in more burned calories.
Moreover, one study in Sweden had 69 participants in the lowest obese body mass index category (30-35) wear a weighted vest from 2kgs-11kgs for 8 hours a day for 3 weeks. The results showed the people wearing the heavier weighted vest lost fat mass while retaining muscle mass.
Even wearing a weighted vest while doing daily chores or walking can help you lose weight!
Weighted vests are good for building muscle through the process of progressive overload. Adding weight to your body will force your muscles to get stronger in order to adapt to the added weight. Most importantly, you need to go hard to fatigue your muscles enough for them to take notice that they need to get stronger.
Related: How to Build Muscle Mass
Because weighted vests are worn on your upper body and apply pressure to your shoulders, back and respiratory muscles; your heart-rate will rise quite quickly which makes it harder to breathe. Just stay calm, take deep breaths and this will help to improve your autonomic nervous function. Staying cool under pressure/stress in this way stimulates your parasympathetic system enabling you to better handle the fight or flight response.
Weighted vests target and work the muscles that are resisting the added load. For example, running with a weighted vest will work your legs, doing pull ups with a weighted vest will hit your back and arms while doing pushups will work your chest and arms.
By increasing the weight you’re supporting during cardio exercises your muscles are required to work harder to provide those muscles with oxygen rich blood. The increased strain on your body forces your lungs and heart to work harder which results in better lung and heart health. This mechanism is referred to as VO2Max. Improvements in your VO2Max will aid you in sustaining longer and more intense workouts. Apart from these benefits improved VO2Max has been shown in multiple studies to reduce stress and fatigue while also staving off illnesses such as Alzheimer’s and dementia. Last but not least, improved VO2Max has been linked to reduction in all-cause mortality and cardiovascular disease in healthy adults. If you don’t know where to begin you can simply throw on a weighted vest for your running or walking sessions.
Wearing a weighted vest is similar to weight lifting in the fact you’re increasing the load that your bones are bearing. Mind you, these weighted vest exercises should be considered weight bearing where you are supporting your own weight such as push-ups or squats. Carrying this extra load causes your body to stimulate cells called osteoblasts that synthesize new bone mineral called hydroxylapatite. Over time your bones become denser and stronger to support the extra weight. The musculoskeletal system is all connected so as your muscles get stronger, so do your bones and connective tissue. Having stronger bones is always beneficial but especially so as we grow older. You might be able to mitigate potential breakages after a fall or help to slow down degenerative bone diseases such as osteoporosis. The science is out on milk for aiding in building stronger bones so should we switch up the saying now to “Weight vests do a body good”? (That's a play on a Milk advert, if you didn't know).
Running with a weighted vest or simply working out with one on will help to improve your posture. By adding weight to your upper body your body will have to engage stabilizing muscles to keep you balanced. When leaning in any direction with a weighted vest on your body will be forced to counter balance the extra weight using proprioceptors. Proprioceptors are defined as sensory receptors that receive stimuli from within the body, especially related to position and movement. Therefore, the proprioceptors in your body have to work overtime while you’re wearing a weighted vest to keep you from falling in any one direction. After removing the weighted vest, your body will have improved its ability to balance. This improved balance helps in everyday life tasks but becomes invaluable as you get older.
Workouts with a weighted vest will enable you to get stronger, build muscle and increase your power and endurance much faster compared to working out without one. Strapping on a weighted vest then doing any number of exercises like push-ups, squats, pull ups, sprints or sit ups adds stress on your body which forces all your muscles to work harder.
Just try to do 10 pushups with a 20lb weighted vest on then try to do those same 10 pushups a few minutes later without the weighted vest. You will be amazed by the difference in difficulty. Do this a few times a week and you’re guaranteed to see great improvements in the number of push-ups you can do without becoming fatigued.
As mentioned above our weighted vest buying guide goes into depth about the fixed vs adjustable weighted vests. The clear winner is the adjustable weighted vest. With an adjustable weighted vest, you can easily switch up the intensity of your workout by adding or subtracting the weight.
Instead of doing the same boring workout routine over and over try to incorporate a weighted vest. For example, you can try to increase the weight in your vest a few pounds after every 10 air squats you complete. Try to complete 10 sets of 10 for a total of 100 reps with each set increasing in intensity. With weighted vests you can reduce your workout time while increasing your productivity, the best of both worlds!
Running or walking with a weighted vest is a simple implementation into your daily regimen. There are also weighted vests for dogs and children so you don’t have to exercise alone anymore! Training with a weighted vest allows you to workout in the same amount of space that your body naturally takes up which makes it a convenient option if you live in close quarters. Any exercise you can think of, be it jumping rope, squats, push-ups, sit-ups, deadlifts, squats and more can be enhanced with a weighted vest.
It might seem counterintuitive that we are adding weight to lose weight but working out with a weighted vest on drastically increases the number of calories you burn while exercising. It’s a basic fact that the added weight will force your muscles to work harder which requires more energy to be spent in the form of burned calories. More burned calories in the same or less time results in more weight lost.
Due to the fact weighted vests make your workout more difficult there are also some after effects such as increased EPOC (Exercise Post Oxygen Consumption). This increased EPOC kick starts your metabolism making your body more efficient in burning calories even after you’ve taken the weighted vest off. Lastly, as your muscles get bigger and stronger because of your weighted vest training your body will burn more calories to power those bigger muscles. Weighted vests are a great option to help with weight loss!
The military has been using rucksacks for ages to help improve performance. Now athletes are using these same techniques with weighted vests. Whether doing cone agility drills for sport specific enhancement or adding a weighted vest to your run, the bottom line is that your muscles will become stronger. Although the jury is out on how to apply the added weight, the exact amount of weight and what exercises are the most beneficial; stronger muscles generally lead to better performance.
The last benefit of weighted vests is that by increasing the weight only to your upper body is that your body is forced to engage your core to keep you upright. The increased workload on your core muscles can help to improve your posture by straightening out your back. When wearing the weighted vest, you should focus on keeping your back straight and shoulders back.
Generally speaking, bodyweight exercises are the best exercises to do when wearing a weighted vest. Don’t be that guy/girl who wears a weighted vest to do everything just to look cool, i.e wearing a weighted vest while bench pressing. If it doesn’t add to your workout then no need to wear it.
Here are some of the best bodyweight exercises to do with a weighted vest:
More bodyweight workout resources:
5 Minute Dynamic Warmup
Perform each exercise for 30 seconds or max reps with breaks as needed between each exercise. Take a 60 second rest after the end of the circuit and repeat the circuit 3 times.
*Start with a weight that you’re comfortable with in order to do these exercises safely and properly.
There may be affiliate links in this post where we might receive a small commission on purchases you make.***
May 12, 2021
A squat rack is without a doubt the centerpiece for any home gym (and, of course, commercial gym)...at least for any serious lifter. It’s obviously a must if you want to do squats, but also, with a squat rack, you can do other big lifts like bench press and military press (to name but a few ways that you can utilize a squat rack). With a squat rack, a barbell, some plates, and an adjustable bench, you have all you could ever need to get strong and into the best shape of your life.
Now, you probably didn’t need to read any of that. It’s safe to assume that you know the importance and versatility of a squat rack and you want one. BUT, you aren’t sure what squat rack to get. Should you get a power rack, a half rack, or squat stand? Are all of these considered squat racks or is a squat rack also a separate kind of, well, squat rack???
With all the different options on the market, buying a squat rack can be a bit confusing. There are a lot of things to consider, such as budget, space, versatility, durability, price, assembly, and so on...
That’s why we have taken the time to write this squat rack comparison. You are going to find all of the answer you need when deciding between the various types of squat racks. We are going to cover the differences, the pros and cons, and how to determine which type of squat rack is right for you. This is the only comparison of squat stand vs squat rack vs half rack vs power rack that you’ll need to read.
To start, let’s briefly go over the different types of squat racks that you’ll find available on the market.
To be clear, the term “squat rack” is interchangeable with all of the below types of racks for squatting. It is a general term used for a rack made for squatting.
An incline squat rack is also known as a peg squat rack. However, not all incline squat racks have pegs. Some have j-cup/hook catchers for the barbell to be racked on. This type of squat rack has two vertical posts that are slightly angled away from the front of the squat rack. They will have pegs or j-hooks at varying heights going up the posts, allowing people of different statures to have the appropriate barbell starting and racking height.
Incline squat racks have fixed safety catchers, rather than adjustable safeties.
The total length and width of incline squat racks is considerably greater than squat stands, half racks and power racks. The height, however, is considerably shorter.
All in all, you will usually find this kind of squat rack in a commercial gym, which is why they are often referred to and thought of as commercial squat racks. They are not as versatile as the other squat racks we are about to show you and they take up more space, but they are great for squatting. If you were to get this kind of squat rack, you'd be paying a very pretty penny and you'd need additional apparatuses for other lifts (i.e. flat bench, pull ups)
Note: there are also even-shorter, less expensive commercial-style incline squat racks that can be ideal for home gyms with low ceilings. You will learn more about these further below.
A power rack, which is also known as a power cage or squat cage, has 4 vertical posts (some have 6) that are attached to a firm base and top. They have two j-cups to rack the barbell at vary heights and two adjustable horizontal safety catchers or supports (i.e. straps, pins, or rails) that run along the side's of the rack on the inside.
The top of the power rack is connected by bars/beams to ensure the cage is extremely secure and stable, and it also doubles as a pull up rig.
The best part about a power rack is that they offer a lot of versatility in lifts and exercises, they have many options for accessory attachments, and they provide the utmost safety without the need of a spotter.
While power racks range in price, they are generally the more expensive option for a home gym (excluding commercial incline squat racks).
You might think a half rack would have two upright posts, considering it’s half of a power rack, but they actually have four uprights just like a power rack. The difference is, there is less distance between the upright posts and most will have plate storage on the back posts.
Unlike a power rack, all of the lifts you do will be outside of the rack (in the front). They come with j-cups and spotter arms that attach at varying heights to the outside of the rack’s front vertical posts. The top of a half rack is also connected by beams and a bar to provide stability just like a power rack (as well as pull up/chin up functionality).
On the whole, half racks are pretty much just as versatile as a full power rack.
As for space, the length of a half rack is quite similar to a full power rack, which might surprise you. This is because the base and safety arms are extended out in front of the rack. That said, there are full power racks with 6 vertical posts, with the additional two back vertical posts being used for plate storage. So, if considering half and full power racks with plate storage, a half rack does take up a little less space (length-wise) than a full power rack.
In terms of height and width, both power racks and half racks have similar options of varying heights, and for width, the standard width of the vertical posts are around 49 inches on both, as that will accommodate a 7 foot barbell.
Another thing you might think is different between a half rack and a power rack is the price. While on average half racks cost less, the difference is often negligible. Most people choose a half rack or a power rack based on space and the preference or safety aspect of working inside or outside of the rack.
All in all, although full power racks and half racks are similar in versatility, size and space, a half rack is actually more like a glorified squat stand for the fact that you will be doing all of your lifts outside of the rack.
A squat stand has two upright posts connected to a three beam base. The two upright posts are attached at the top by a bar, which can be used for pull ups. It will have j-cups for racking the barbell that attach to the outside of the vertical post at varying heights. Like a half rack, a squat stand should come with safety arms so you don’t need a spotter.
As for space, because a squat stand has only two vertical posts, they will have a slightly smaller footprint.
With a good squat stand, you can do pretty much everything that you can do with a half rack.
Note: Some squat stands will have vertical posts without a top bar connecting them. While Rogue and certain other bands make some good ones that are sturdy and can be bolted down for stability, we don’t recommend these. Thus, when referring to squat stands from here on out, we will be talking about the ones that have a big three-beam base that connects the two posts and a top bar that connects the tops of the posts (as seen in the pic above)
AVOID THESE SQUAT STANDS - Squat stands with separate bases and a Y-shape top for the bar to be mounted on should be avoided. These are generally cheap and unstable. They will not be good for any serious lifter.
If you are really looking to save space, there are wall-mounted folding racks and wall mounted (non-folding) racks on the market. The folding racks can fold away in seconds and when pulled out they function just as good as a squat stand. Both wall mounted racks are very space friendly, strong, and a bit more affordable. They are also pretty versatile. We saved you the time and effort with our analysis of the Best Folding Squat Racks on the market.
However, assembly and setting them up will be more of a challenge.
In effort to keep things simple, we are only going to compare the aforementioned types of squat racks in this comparison as they are the more popular option for people who want to create a home gym. So, we won't be talking about fold away wall mounted rack from here on out.
Squat racks are essential for building muscle and strength. They provide the safest and easiest way to do squats and other strength training lifts. Without a squat rack, you will not be able to do the big compound lifts with a considerable load. If you have a good squat rack, your only limitation is your genetics and your willpower.
Exercises that can be done with most squat racks (as long as you also have an adjustable bench and a barbell with plates): squats, flat bench press, incline bench, military press, seated overhead press, rack pulls, rows, deadlifts and more. You can also do pull ups with squat racks that come with a top bar for pull ups, which means you won't need to buy a pull up bar for your home gym! A squat racks pull up bar is way sturdier than most pull bars you can buy on Amazon and thanks to the rack, they offer the right space and height for pull ups.
Note: Some squat racks are going to be more versatile than others, which you will learn as you continue reading. Each type of squat rack has its own advantages and disadvantages to consider, which will make your decision easier. Therefore, there will be plenty more talk on benefits of squat racks, just specified to the specific type of squat rack.
Now, the comparison begins.
Note: We put the incline squat rack in parenthesis because we won’t be going as in-depth on this one, as it is not a common choice for home gyms. Nevertheless, we will be laying out the pros and cons.
We are going to look at each type of squat rack based on the follow criteria, all of which should play into your buying decision:
We will also be summing up the pros and cons of each.
**This article contains affiliate links where we will receive a small commission on any sales, at no additional cost to you**
First of all, we are talking about good squat stands for this comparison, which means squat stands with a wide stable 3-part base and a bar that connects the top (as seen in the pic above). We are not even going to be considering the squat stands with posts that are independent of each other.
Squat stands can be used for squatting, bench press, incline press, military press, rack pulls (off the safety arms), stiff-legged deadlifts (although not necessary), pull ups, inverted rows, hanging leg raises, etc. You should be able to find a dip attachment as well.
Some squat stands will have the ability to attach bands at the base as well. Banded barbell lifts are great!
All in all, you can use a good squat stand for all the same exercises that you can with a power rack and half rack (minus the added accessories that you can get with half and full power racks).
Safety & Stability
A good squat stand will have a large stable base. However, you will need to secure it in place to avoid unwanted movement and tipping. So, make sure you get a squat stand that can be anchored. Once anchored, you don’t have to worry one bit about a quality squat stand tipping, even with a heavily loaded barbell on the safety arms or when doing kipping pull ups and whatnot.
You’ll also want to make sure the j-cups/hooks and the safety arms are strong and good quality. Any good squat stand will come with reliable j-hooks and safety arms (strong enough to hold a heavily loaded barbell). Therefore, you can bail without concern if it’s a good quality squat stand.
Note: Squat stands will have a max capacity. Pay attention to this when selecting a squat stand.
Good squat stands come in various heights and lengths. Widths are generally pretty standard as they need to be an appropriate width to hold a full size barbell.
Heights range from 85 inches to 110 inches (remember, you’ll want some room above the top of squat stand for pull ups).
Widths range from 48 inches to 53 inches on average, so not a huge variance here.
Lengths range from 38 inches to 50 inches on average.
You obviously need to consider your workout space (which includes the ceiling height!). But you also want to consider stability and your height. If you can, get a greater length, closer to 50 inches, that will be better. As for height, if you are taller, you’ll want a taller squat stand for pull ups if your ceiling permits.
Note: You will be working outside of the rack with a squat stand. Thus, you need to consider the space needed to exercise in front of the rack (where the safety arms will extend to). You are likely to do some exercises even further out than the safety arms extend (for example, when doing split squats or lunges).
Overall, squat stands are the most space-friendly of the different types of squat racks, but not by that much honestly, as you will see.
Squat stands will need assembly. The two posts, the pull up bar, and the base will need to be assembled. But, as it is not that many parts, it won’t take long. Most people can assemble a squat stand in 30 minutes or so.
Note: Make sure you won’t have trouble getting the two vertical posts into your workout space.
A good squat stand will cost you a minimum of around $300 on Amazon. If you go for a company like Rogue or Rep Fitness, you can expect to pay around $800 (including the safety arms, which are usually an add-on).
Some squat stand sellers will offer other add-ons like a bench or a lat pull down attachment. You will obviously want a bench. This will be needed no matter what kind of squat rack you get, though. We won’t be getting into bench prices, but you should get a high quality adjustable bench, which can be expensive (many are about as much as a squat stand!).
You’ll also need to consider shipping price. Most sellers will ship for free, but be sure to check on this before getting too attached to the squat stand.
PROS AND CONS OF SQUAT STANDS
Remember, this applies to good, stable squat stand, not the cheapo ones...
Brands we recommend for squat stands:
A half rack is like a glorified squat stand, so you are going to find some similarities below. That said, there are some noteworthy differences as well.
A half rack is very versatile. You are going to be able to do squats, bench press (flat and incline), military press, rack pulls (off the safety arms), pull ups, inverted rows, hanging leg raises, and dips (if you buy the accessory attachment - some even come built in). You’ll also have hooks on the base for banded barbell exercises.
Overall, you can do pretty much everything imaginable with a half rack that you can do with a power rack. You’ll just be doing it from outside of the rack.
Note: Some half racks have the capability to be turned into a full rack. So you can start with a half rack and if you decide later on that you want to use a full rack, you can buy the additional parts. If this interests you, look for a half rack with this capability (Rogue has one and they also have a squat stand that can turn into a half rack - they are called conversion kits).
Stability & Safety
Half racks are very stable, but they should still be anchored down just to avoid any movement of the rack and potential tipping.
As long as you are buying a good half rack, you don’t need to worry about the integrity of the j-cups and the safety arms will hold up perfectly if you need to bail or for heavy rack pulls.
All in all, a half rack is perfectly stable and safe and it offers a little more max weight capacity that most squat stands (although most people - even those who are quite strong - won’t ever go that heavy, as we are talking about 500+ pounds)
Generally, half racks have a slightly greater of footprint than squat stands since they have a larger (longer and wider) base with 4 upright posts, but the height is similar.
Heights of half racks range from 85 inches +, with 85-96 inches being the most common. 8 feet (or 96 inches) is considered standard.
Widths of the vertical posts are around 50 inches, but with plate storage you are looking at 63-70+ inches (plate holders can be removed on most if you are limited on space).
Lengths range from 50 inches to 65 inches on average. Some can be much longer like Rogue’s Monster Half Rack (which is a half rack with 6 posts!).
Generally speaking, you can expect a bigger footprint with half racks than squat stands, but there are a lot of options on the market to choose from to accommodate your workout space.
Assembly is just as easy as a squat stand, but you have more parts to assemble, so it’s going to take a little longer. If you can get an extra hand, you can speed up the process.
You are looking at around $500+ for a good half rack on Amazon and $1000+ from a big home gym equipment company like Rogue, Fringe Sport, Titan, and American Barbell.
Be sure to check shipping prices before getting too excited. That said, most companies ship for free.
Pros and Cons of Half Racks
Brands we recommend for half rack:
A power rack is the most expensive and heavy duty option of the three. Let’s find out if it’s right for you...
Power racks (aka power cages) are the most versatile option. You can do all the lifts we mentioned with the other squat racks plus you’ll have a lot of options for accessory attachments.
With power racks, you will be doing your work inside the cage, so be aware of this. That said, you can buy additional safety arms for outside-the-cage use...or you can just use bumper plates (depending on your floor). The j-hooks can attach inside and outside, but most people work inside because that’s where the safeties (pins, straps or bars) are located.
The ability to work inside and outside the cage allows you to have two set ups at the same time. If you have two sets of j-hooks and two barbells, you can have one set up in the cage and one set up outside the cage, which is great for supersetting.
Another point that's not exactly related to versatility, but it also sort of is, is the fact that you really have no concern of bailing with a power rack, so you can push your limits to a higher degree than with half racks and squat stands, where you may have some concern about bailing.
Power racks are also going to provide the most weight capacity, so you can really lift as heavy as you want! But this is only important for guys who can lift ridiculously heavy weights.
Stability & Safety
A full power rack is the most stable and safest option of them all. For those who life super heavy, a power rack is probably your best option. They have the highest weight capacity.
Not only is the cage perfectly stable (although you still need to anchor it down like the others), but the safeties are the most reliable of all the options. This is because they are held in place on both ends, whereas safety arms are only held in place on one end.
What’s more, when working inside the cage, you don’t have to worry about falling backwards since the cage is there to stop you. So you have three lines of safety - front, back and below.
Full power racks have the largest footprint, but it really depends on what power cage you get as some are very similar in footprint to a half rack.
Height are usually 85 inches to 95 inches tall. However, you can find them as short as 71 inches and as tall as 100+ inches, so there is a lot of options to choose from.
In terms of width, 50 inches is average, but you’ll find some slight variance. Also, if the power cage has plate storage, you need to factor that into the width (not all have plate storage).
Lengths range a lot, as some power cages have 6 posts rather than 4. Some are made specially for tight spaces too. So, you can find them anywhere from 36-40 inches all the way up to 70+ inches in length. If we are talking an average, it’s about 50 inches in length.
The footprint of a full power rack is pretty similar to a half rack if you get a 4 post power cage. Some can even have a smaller footprint, like Rogue’s RM-3 Monster Rack 2.0. On the other hand, if you go for the biggest power racks on the market, you will need considerably more space. All in all, you have a lot of options to choose from so you can find one that fits your workout space.
Assembly is going to be similar to a half rack, but if you get a 6 post power cage, it’ll take even longer.
Generally speaking, full power racks are more expensive than half racks, but it depends. You can find power cages for as little as $350-$500, which is the same as a half rack and even some squat stands. And we don’t just mean on Amazon, companies like Titan and Fringe have some surprisingly good prices for full power racks.
On the other hands, power cages can also be considerably more expensive than half racks and squat stands. For example, Rogue’s power cages run from $1200 to $2,000+.
Pros and cons:
Brands we recommend for full power rack:
Incline squat racks are not usually bought for home gyms, they are more for commercial gyms. The commercial incline squat racks are expensive (over $1600) and they are not as versatile as the aforementioned squat racks, so you definitely won't get the best bang for your buck.
With incline squat racks, you are basically only able to do squats, military press, seated press, rack pulls and inverted rows.
The good thing about them is they are great for squatting. They are extremely stable and the safety bars that extend in front are as heavy duty if not more than a power rack...but they can’t be adjusted. That’s a big point that relates back to this kind of squat rack not being versatile.
As for the footprint, they are long and wide, so they take up a lot of space. However, they are short (usually around 71 inches). This makes them actually not a bad option for home gyms with low ceilings.
In regards to assembly, some commercial incline squat racks have parts welded together, so it’ll be hard to get it through any tight confinement, which most houses have. However, some require assembly (which you can pay the company to do for you upon delivery).
If you do want one, you will have to find some special commercial gym sellers, as the major home gym fitness equipment companies don’t sell incline squat racks because they are not usually desired for home gyms (they aren’t versatile enough and they take up a lot of space). You won't find these high quality incline squat racks on Amazon at all either.
All in all, we typically only recommend these high quality incline squat racks for commercial gyms. That said, this might be the squat rack for you if you have the space (or to the opposite effect, a low ceiling, because these are shorter than the other types of squat racks) and budget to buy other necessary apparatuses for lifts like flat bench press and incline bench press.
WHAT ABOUT COMMERCIAL-STYLE INCLINE SQUAT RACKS?
You’ll see a few incline squat racks on Amazon, but these aren’t the same as the commercial incline squat racks we were just discussing. They are even shorter (around 5.5-6 feet) and they have adjustable safeties (slightly adjustable). These are not such a bad idea for those who want just a simple squat rack and will buy other apparatuses for their home gym for things like flat bench, pull ups, dips, etc. They are sturdy and you can use them for other exercises like rack pulls, shoulder presses and even incline bench press.
This one by Valor Fitness below on Amazon has positive reviews and good specs for a decent price.
Now that you know the pros and cons of each type of squat rack, you need to ask yourself a few questions that will help you determine if the squat rack you are considering to buy is of good quality and right for you and your home gym.
NOTE: Be sure to check weight capacity. Some squat racks will have different max load capacity options.
It’s really going to come down to preference and workout space, as prices are not drastically different for squat stands, half racks and power racks. You can find options for all three around the same price. Plus, if you really prefer a certain power rack, and it costs a few hundred dollars more, it's worth spending a few hundred dollars. This is an investment that will last you forever.
Digest all the information above and make a decision that you feel is best for you, your home gym, and your workout goals. We can’t tell you which squat rack to buy as everyone has different preferences and workout spaces.
The good news is, you really can't go wrong with any of the squat racks we recommended.
As long as you’ve read everything above, you can make an informed decision that you will be happy with for many years to come. A squat rack is a great investment that will last you a very long time and will be the staple of your home gym. You will use it every single workout if you are a serious lifter (i.e. leg day, back day, shoulder day, chest day and even for core - leg raises baby!).
Note: While power racks may seem the ultimate option, a lot of serious lifters opt for squat stands or half racks simply because they prefer squatting outside of the rack. It also is more convenient for movements like barbell lunges. So, again, base your decision on preference and choose a squat rack that fits your workout space.
To save you time searching for your squat rack of choice, we wrote a post covering the Best Squat Racks available. The following brands also produce quality squat racks if you are looking for reputable manufacturers:
Note: Most of these companies have a slower turnover and stock issues (out of stock for a while of certain models). Moreover, they are a little pricier. So, you will be waiting longer for your squat rack than you will with Amazon options.
April 29, 2021 3 Comments
Battle ropes may seem like a simple, straight forward piece of training equipment, but there are actually some important nuances to consider when buying one. Battle ropes come in different sizes (lengths and thickness) and materials. The length, thickness and material you choose for a battle rope will depend on your workout space, training goals, fitness level and overall stature.
All in all, battle ropes are an awesome training tool that will last you a very long time, so if you get it right the first time, you won’t ever have to think about buying one again.
In this battle rope buying guide, you will learn everything you need to know about battle rope sizing and materials so you can get the right battle rope for your gym or home workout space.
A battle rope is a long, thick, heavy rope that is held with one side in each hand by doubling it over with an anchor point at its middle. The length and thickness of the rope gives it considerable resistance and movability, allowing trainees to whip (undulate) the rope independently of each arm for the purpose of strength and conditioning.
Battle ropes are also known as known as battling ropes, heavy ropes and CrossFit ropes.
Battle ropes generally come in lengths of 30, 40 and 50 feet and thickness of 1.5, 2, and 2.5 inches. Remember, since battle ropes are anchored at the middle to be doubled over, a 50 foot battle rope will have approximately 25 feet of rope in each hand, which means you need around 30 feet of space to use it.
While this training tool is very mainstream (you’ve probably seen it at every gym you’ve been to), it actually hasn’t been around for that long.
The battle rope was invented in 2006 by a well-established trainer by the name of John Brookfield. Brookfield introduced his newly developed training concept to the Special Forces, Cincinnati Bengals and US Olympic Wrestling team soon after and it was quickly realized for its effectiveness on conditioning. It didn’t take long before battle ropes were in nearly every gym across the US, and ultimately, the world.
Battle ropes provide efficient, effective, low-impact workouts for improving explosive power, burning fat, increasing endurance, improving balance & coordination, and even building muscle. Battle rope workouts are typically high intensity, so the training is not for the faint of heart.
Besides the physical and health benefits that battle ropes can offer, we personally love them at SET FOR SET because the workouts never get boring (there’s so much you can do with battle ropes!). Moreover, they are relatively inexpensive, they are awesome for outdoor workouts, and they are suitable for any fitness level (you control the intensity!).
It’s safe to assume that since you are reading this, you are interested in buying a battle rope, so you don’t need to be sold on their effectiveness. However, if you aren’t sure if battle rope training is right for you, hit your local gym, which most likely has a battle rope, and give it a try. If you like it, get one for your home because they make for fantastic cardio, HIIT & conditioning training at home.
If you are ready to buy a battle rope, you probably have a couple of important questions in mind about sizing (length and thickness) and materials. We are here with the answers you need.
Let’s quickly go over the different sizes and materials of battle ropes...
Battle Rope Lengths:
Battle Rope Thickness (Diameter):
We will discuss the material and which sizes are best in-depth further below.
There are a few things you need to consider before buying a battle rope because it will help you determine which size battle rope you should get.
Here are some important questions:
The length, thickness and material of a battle rope will be easy to decide on if you know the answers to the above questions.
We will now go through the different battle rope lengths, thicknesses, and materials with the above points in mind.
The typical length of battle ropes are 30, 40, and 50 feet.
You can find them as short as 10 feet, but this short of a size will not allow you to use battle ropes as they were truly intended - creating undulations down the rope.
While a 30, 40 and 50 foot battle rope may seem very long, remember that it will be wrapped around an anchor point so it makes two ends.
This means a 30 foot battle rope will be 15 feet in each hand, a 40 foot battle rope will be 20 feet in each hand, and a 50 foot rope will be 25 feet in each hand.
Give yourself an extra 5 feet of “elbow room” and that’s all you need for your workout space.
So, if you get a 50 foot battle rope, you should have around 30 feet of workout space.
Deciding on what length battle rope to get is easy if you just consider what workout space you have. But assuming space isn’t an issue, we always recommend a 50 foot battle rope.
A 50 foot battle rope is the most popular and effective size for battle ropes because the longer the rope, the more fluid and versatile it will be.
Shorter ropes have less fluidity, which causes a form of recoil to get sent back to you before the force you create on the rope reaches the anchor point. With thicker shorter ropes, this effect is only compounded.
Another great thing about longer battle ropes is they weigh more, which will require you to create greater force to move the rope and create undulations. Essentially, this means they are harder to use because they have more resistance. It also makes them more unpredictable and unstable, which further increases difficulty.
All in all, battle ropes are meant to be used in a fluid manner, so the longer it is, the better and more effective it will be.
If you are concerned about how much space you have, the good thing is you can use them outside so you really don’t have to limit yourself. You could also use them in your garage, opening up your garage door and pulling them from an anchor point inside your garage into your driveway.
To sum it up, get a 50 foot rope if you can, especially if you are already in good shape. A 40 foot rope works pretty good too, and even more so if you are a shorter and somewhat weaker. And if you really only have space for a 30 foot battle rope, then it’s better than nothing. You can still create shorter undulations effectively. Anything shorter than a 30 foot battle rope and you might as well consider a different training implement for power and conditioning workouts.
NOTE: If you own a gym, get a 50 foot battle rope. 40 foot would be ok too, but a 30 foot battle rope for a gym is like only have dumbbells that range from 5-25lbs.
The most common diameters for battle ropes are 1.5” and 2”, however, you may be able to find them as thick as 2.5”.
The thickness of the rope may seem trivial, but it actually makes a big difference. A half an inch will considerably impact your workout, so you need to consider your goals. You also need to take your stature and strength into consideration.
Thicker battle ropes have more weight, which makes them more difficult to use.
A 1.5 inch 30 foot battle rope will weigh around 16-18lbs, a 1.5 inch 40 foot battle rope will weigh around 22-24lbs, and a 1.5 inch 50 foot battle rope will weight around 27-29lbs.
A 2 inch 30 foot battle rope will weigh around 27-30lbs, a 2 inch 40 foot battle rope will weigh around 37-40lbs, and a 2 inch 50 foot battle rope will weight around 47-50lbs.
Heavier ropes are best for quick, intense workouts. They are good for building muscle and explosive strength.
Lighter ropes are best for conditioning, like cardio, endurance and HIIT based workouts.
Depending on your hand size, grip strength and overall stature, what is considered thick will differ. For example, for a smaller person, a 2 inch rope will be very thick. However, for a larger person with big hands, the 2 inch rope will be kind of a happy medium for both strength and conditioning.
To make things clear, lets go over a quick “who should buy?” For each size.
1.5 inch battle rope: No matter how big you are, you should buy a 1.5” battle rope if you want to use it for cardio finishers, HIIT, and circuit training. The thinner rope allows you to have a firm grip that can sustain longer sets at high intensity. With a 1.5 inch grip, men and women will be able to wrap their entire hand over the ends of the rope.
2 inch battle rope: If you have large hands and a strong grip that you want to become even stronger, and you plan on using your battle ropes for short, intense sets to build muscle and explosive power, then a 2 inch battle rope will be good. Only men with extremely large hands will be able to completely wrap their hands around a 2” battle rope.
2.5 inch battle rope: Honestly, only massive humans will find a 2.5” battle rope useful. They are just too thick and heavy for the vast, vast majority of people to use effectively. Even guys who you think they are beasts will probably not be able to use a 2.5” rope productively. It’s just so difficult to grip and it's too heavy to create sustainable undulations. So, unless you are like Thor (or Hafþór Júlíus Björnsson), don’t even think about a 2.5 inch battle rope, you’ll be wasting your money.
Just as we always recommend a 50 foot battle rope, we always recommend a 1.5 inch battle rope. It’s simply more versatile. This applies to pretty much everybody, especially beginners (both big and strong or small and weak).
If you are experienced with battle ropes and you want to really challenge your strength and grip, go for a 2 inch battle rope. But remember the following...
Thick ropes carry more weight, which makes them harder to use in all the various ways battle ropes are intended, and they are much more difficult to grip. They are better for slams in short bursts and waves. Even the strongest and fittest people won't be able to do multiple sets for more than 30 seconds with a 2” battle rope. Half an inch may not seem like a lot, but it makes the rope a whole 35% thicker and heavier.
We much prefer the 1.5” battle rope, even as strong and fit men, because you can use the battle ropes in all the best and most fun ways - waves, slams, whips, crossovers, circles, etc.
So, at this point, we have come to the conclusion that the vast majority of people should get a longer rope (50 feet or at least 40 feet) and a 1.5” inch diameter battle rope...but what about material?
When discussing material, we are essentially talking about durability. There are two main types of materials used, manila and poly Dacron, but poly Dacron can be cheap or high quality depending on the blend.
You can find battle ropes made from other materials, but the market mainly comprises battle ropes made of poly Dacron, so we won’t even bother discussing the others as you probably won’t be able to find them available for sale.
Let’s first talk about manila ropes...
Manila is a type of plant from the Philippines that has very strong hemp fibers. Therefore, manila battle ropes are all-natural. Some people are drawn to this fact.
Manila was the go-to choice for battle ropes before synthetic fibers came to the battle rope scene.
There are some pros and cons to manila battle ropes.
The advantage manila ropes have is they are organic and environmentally friendly. They also provide great fluidity and have excellent resistance to the sun's UV rays. Overall, the cool thing about manila ropes is they have a unique raw look because they are made from a plant!
The main disadvantages of manila battle ropes are the fibers shed, they can get water logged if left outdoors in the rain (which can make them moldy), and they are around 10-25 percent more expensive than poly Dacron. If you are using your battle ropes outside, shedding of fibers is not an issue, but if you plan on using your battle rope indoors, cleaning up fibers all the time is a pain in the butt. Poly Dacron battle ropes will not shed at all.
So, unless you are a big proponent of using organic material and you want to use your battle ropes only outside, then skip manila battle ropes and go for poly Dacron battle ropes.
Now, let’s talk about poly Dacron (aka Polydac) battle ropes...
Poly Dacron is made from two types of synthetic fibers - polypropylene and Dacron plastic. The synthetic fibers are braided into strands, using Dacron to provide strength in the outer braid. The polypropylene core keeps the rope lighter (a perfect weight) and allows for flexibility since this type of fiber is very flexible. Moreover, both polypropylene and Dacron are resistance to rot, water, oil and most chemicals.
The advantage of polydac battle ropes are they don’t shed, they are more economical, and they are way more resistant to abrasive surfaces and water. So, they can be used indoor and outdoor to great effect.
The only real con of polydac ropes is it can be hard to know if it is cheap polydac or high quality polydac...yes, not all polydac ropes are created equal.
So, what is the issue with cheap polydac and how to tell the difference?
Well, the issue with cheap polydac battle ropes is they are less fluid and they feel more fibrous. This is obviously not ideal.
It would be nice if sellers told you whether it is cheap or high quality polydac, but they obviously don’t. The only way to tell before actually buying and feeling and using the battle rope is to consider the price and read the reviews. If the price is quite inexpensive, presumably it is cheap polydac. But even if the price is not inexpensive, check reviews. This is why we like buying battle ropes on Amazon, because you know the reviews are authentic, as Amazon cracks down on fake reviews. Read through the reviews and you will find out what you need to know (but take people’s reviews with a little grain of salt, as some people can be, well, a little bit salty). Overall, the more positive reviews, the better.
Note: Even good polydac battle ropes will feel a little stiff when you first pull them out of the box. However, after a few workout sessions, they will be broken in and feel very fluid (so long as it’s good polydac).
Just get a polydac battle rope. Keep things simple. You won’t have to worry about shedding, it’s more price friendly, and they will last you a very long time without any concern of rot, water logging, etc. It’s the most durable and best option for battle ropes.
Remember, just check reviews to make sure the battle ropes are not made from cheap polydac.
Of course, if you have your mind set on manila battle ropes, go for it. They are cool, you just need to treat them with more care and clean up shedding. Rogue has a nice manila battle rope.
The all-around best choice for a battle rope is a 50 foot, 1.5” polydac battle rope. This kind of battle rope will allow you to do everything imaginable with a battle rope and in the most effective manner. Moreover, it’ll last you a very, very long time.
For those who are experienced with battle ropes, have a bigger stature, and want to build grip strength and focus on maximizing muscular hypertrophy, a 2 inch rope may be good for you.
For gym owners, stock your gym with a 50 foot, 1.5 inch polydac battle rope. You don’t even need to think about anything else, this is the size and material you want.
If you are truly limited on space, try to get at least a 40 foot rope. A 40 foot rope is actually perfectly fine, it’s just not as good as a 50 foot rope.
You’ll notice the price ranges are pretty large. It’s not to say that the less expensive battle ropes are poor quality, but it is an indication of lower quality. Definitely read many reviews if you are planning on saving money by going with a cheaper option. It’s better to spend more to have a high quality battle rope.
Manila Battle Rope Price - There aren’t too many options on the market, but to give you an idea, Rogue sells a 50 foot 1.5 inch manila battle rope for $125. The only manila ropes you’ll find on Amazon are for tug of war or climbing.
It should be noted that 2” battle ropes are not as commonly produced as 1.5” battle ropes because 1.5" ropes are in the most demand. So, you will have less options to choose from for 2 inch battle ropes, and if you want 2.5” battle ropes because you are superhuman, then you will be extremely limited.
Do I need a protective cover for my battle rope?
Protective sleeves are not necessary at all. It’s a way to sell battle rope for a greater price at only a little additional cost to the seller. Even though most protective covers are made from nylon, they don’t really add value in terms of durability as polydac is already resistant and durable enough. The only thing they do is protect the rope from getting dirty as a flat nylon cover is easier to clean. But do you really care if your battle rope is dirty? It’s meant to be used and abused and you won’t even be touching anything but the sheathed handles of a battle rope anyway.
How to anchor a battle rope?
While most sellers have battle ropes that come with an anchor, they aren’t that necessary. You can anchor your battle rope to anything sturdy, like a pole or even a heavy dumbbell or kettlebell.
If you train outside, a lot of people use a tree. If the tree is thick or you are worried about wearing down the battle rope, tie a chain around the tree and then anchor the battle rope to the chain.
Just try to keep the anchor point as low as possible.
Should I get 1.5 or 2 inch battle rope?
If you are new to battle rope training or you simply want the most versatile size, get a 1.5” battle rope. If you are experienced with battle ropes or you are a large, strong individual, a 2 inch rope can be good. Overall though, if you have any doubt, get a 1.5 inch battle rope. You simply can’t go wrong with a 1.5 inch battle rope, but you can with a 2 inch battle rope.
Should I get a 30, 40 or 50 foot battle rope?
The best option is a 50 foot battle rope, but if you are limited in space, get a shorter battle rope, but don’t bother with anything less than 30 feet. All in all, the longer the rope, the better, so always go for longer.
How much do battle ropes weigh?
A 1.5 inch 30 foot battle rope will weigh around 16-18lbs, a 1.5 inch 40 foot battle rope will weigh around 22-24lbs, and a 1.5 inch 50 foot battle rope will weight around 27-29lbs.
A 2 inch 30 foot battle rope will weigh around 27-30lbs, a 2 inch 40 foot battle rope will weigh around 37-40lbs, and a 2 inch 50 foot battle rope will weight around 47-50lbs.
These are estimates that may vary seller to seller.
Battle ropes are not really a speciality product that only certain brands do right. Anyone can sell a good battle rope as long as they take time to source from a good manufacturer.
Besides Rogue, the vast majority of battle rope sellers are sourcing from China (safe to say all Amazon sellers are sourcing from China).
Now, this doesn’t mean that all battle ropes are equal quality. Manufacturers in China vary in the quality they produce. So, focus on the price and reviews rather than the brand.
April 24, 2021
While stationary bikes are great for steady-state cardio, burning calories, and building powerful legs, the benefits go far beyond that. There are so many reasons why you should consider getting yourself a stationary bike. In this article, we are going to discuss all of the benefits of exercise bikes, as well as the different types of bikes and which is best for home use. It may all seem simple, but in the modern day, indoor cycling is extremely advanced in tech and the workouts are endless.
You are about to learn everything you need to know about stationary bikes and the benefits that come with them...
Stationary bikes come in many varieties, but they can be grouped into four main categories:
We will quickly go over each and then tell you which one(s) is best for home use.
The upright stationary bike is what you probably envision when you hear “stationary bike”. However, not all upright stationary bikes are the same. Generally speaking, you can categorize upright stationary bikes as either exercise bikes or spin bikes.
Both upright exercise bikes and spin bikes will have you sitting upright, hence the name. But there are some key differences in design.
A spin bike will have handles that are roughly leveled with your hips.
An exercise bike has handles that sit considerably higher, so you will actually be sitting more upright.
You have more adjustability with the seat on a spin bike as well. This allows you to adjust the seat to your height perfectly, which is important for form and reducing the risk of injury. People who have spin bikes often do intense workouts, so this is important.
Spin bikes put you in a position that resembles actual road cycling.
Spin bikes also have reinforced pedals that hook your feet in securely, as spinning involves a lot of “getting out of the saddle” (pedaling while standing up).
You can’t stand up when using an upright exercise bike because it doesn’t have the reinforced pedals. The ability to properly secure your feet in and stand up is a very important feature of spin bikes as it allows you to take your indoor cycling to the highest level of intensity.
What's more, spin bikes have a heavier flywheel mechanism that takes more momentum to get going and keep going. It feels more realistic and natural, like actually cycling outdoors.
Overall, if you want to take indoor cycling serious, a spin bike is far and away the best option. However, if you just want a low-intensity cardio at home, an exercise bike is fine. Upright exercise bikes are more affordable, beginner friendly, the saddle is more comfy, many have a small screen for riding metrics, and some can even fold up to save on space.
At SET FOR SET, when we train, we train hard. So, we’d no doubt go for a spin bike.
Interactive Stationary Bikes
Interactive stationary bikes have an interactive screen at the front and center. The screen can display roads and routes to make you feel like you are outside or pre-recorded online spinning classes that you can follow along to. They will also display important metrics, like output in watts, RPM (revolutions per minute), pedaling time, resistance level, and trip distance (odometer). This is great for keeping track of progress.
Upright spin bikes or exercise bikes with interactive screens will be considerably more expensive than spin bikes without. Most brands have options for both upright stationary bikes with and without interactive screens.
Spin Bike Price (with and without interactive screen):
~$200 to $2,000 (interactive spin bikes will generally be $1500+)
A lot of non-interactive spin bikes will have tablet holders so you can watch an online spinning class from your tablet. If you like this idea, look for a spin bike with a tablet holder.
Exercise Bike Price:
~$150 to $700 (you can expect to pay $300+ for exercise bikes that have a screen to display riding metrics).
Recumbent bikes have a laid-back design. They have a large seat that is set back from the pedals. The pedals are at about the same level as the seat. Recumbent bikes don't have handlebars in the front, but they do have handles near the side of the seat.
Recumbent bikes are made for low intensity, low impact cardio. They are good for elderly and people who are overweight. Although they’d be fine for anyone who wants to just do some simple, comfortable cardio.
For those looking to purchase one of these, don't miss our post 11 Best Recumbent Bikes!
Note: Recumbent bikes will also have a screen for heart-rate, speed, distance, RPMs, and calories burned.
Recumbent Stationary Bike Price:
~$180 to $800
Dual action stationary bikes, aka assault bikes, have handles that move, so you are doing both upper and lower body work. The resistance is caused by a fan and air. Assault bike workouts are TOUGH.
Dual Action Stationary Bike Price:
~$180 to $600
If you want a stationary bike that best replicates outdoor cycling and gives you the ability to do intense workouts, go for a spin bike - with an interactive screen or not.
An interactive screen is not necessary, but it can surely optimize your workouts and it just makes things a little more interesting in terms of the ability to feel like you are on the road or in a class. They will, of course, be more expensive than spin bikes without interactive screens.
If you want a more affordable, lower intensity option and you don’t care about the ability to get out of the saddle, an upright exercise bike is a fine choice.
For people who are considerably overweight and out of shape, a recumbent bike or a dual action bike is a good option.
If you already have a road bike, you can easily convert it to a stationary bike, and have both the option to hit the road or do an indoor cycling workout.
This is made possible with rear wheel trainers - rollers, smart trainers or turbo trainers.
Rollers consist of a set of three cylindrical drums bolted onto a rectangular frame. Your rear wheel sits on the rollers and you actually ride on top of the rollers, which means balance and skill is required. They are the most engaging and difficult of the three. Many pro riders use rollers in the winter just to work on smooth pedaling technique.
Smart trainers and turbo trainers are a set up that requires you to remove the back wheel, and the stand clamps to the rear of the bike, allowing you to cycle in place. A dial can be adjusted to increase resistance. The only difference between turbo trainers and smart trainers is that smart trainers can interact with softwares. You can use them to connect to apps like Zwift that allow you to recreate rides and even race others all over the world right from the comfort of your home.
There are also simple trainer stands that don’t require you to remove your rear wheel.
All in all, if you have a road bike already, we recommend getting a turbo trainer or a smart trainer as the workouts are great. If you can afford the smart trainer, definitely do that. Connecting your bike to your TV or computer and recreating races and racing others is super fun and will have you on the bike every day! The smart trainer even changes resistance automatically according to the route!
**This article contains affiliate links where we will receive a small commission if you order (at no additional cost to you). There are tons of stationary bike and rear wheel trainer options on the market. So, do your due diligence**
The following benefits apply to indoor cycling in general, no matter the type of stationary bike you have. However, if you have a spin bike or a rear wheel trainer, these benefits are only amplified.
We are going to start with the health benefits, then discuss some advantages that exercise bikes have over other forms of cardio and equipment.
Cardio, as the name implies, is beneficial for your cardiovascular system (your heart and blood vessels). By doing cardio on a regular basis, you will strengthen your heart and blood vessels.
Spinning is one of the best forms of cardio there is, so long as you push yourself. If you put time in on your exercise bike, it will have a fantastic impact on your heart health.
Here’s how it works. Your heart pumps around 4 quarts of blood each minute when resting, but when doing aerobic exercise like spinning, it increases to 20 quarts or more per minute (if cycling at a reasonable intensity). This is because your muscles need to be supplied with blood and oxygen for energy.
This simple process improves your hearts ability to pump blood. It will also unblock fatty deposits that build up overtime, which will boost blood flow to the small vessels.
With that, your muscles will be supplied with more oxygen, which gives you greater aerobic capacity.
What's more, better circulation isn't just good for your workouts, it also helps prevent cardiovascular diseases like strokes and heart attacks. Moreover, with a strong, well-trained heart, you can pump a large volume of blood to your arteries with each contraction, which actually lowers your blood pressure (high blood pressure can lead to strokes and heart attacks).
According to the CDC, 18.2 million adults over the age of 20 have a heart disease!
The best part is, your heart, which is a cardiac muscle (or muscular organ), can improve and strengthen quickly. By doing cardio just 3 times a week for 30-45 mins a day, you will see your resting heart rate is considerably lower after 3-4 weeks. This is a sign that your cardiovascular health is improving.
Over time, your heart will beat less rapidly, not get stressed, and you will have a greater cardio-respiratory capacity, which means you will not get out of breath as easily. This is obviously vital for athletes, but it’s also important for non-athletes - no more getting out of breath from things like walking up stairs, doing chores around the house, or having sex!
All in all, if you don’t take cardiovascular health seriously, you should start doing so now. Even people who look very fit can have poor cardiovascular health because they never do cardio. Cardio is a huge aspect of being truly fit (and one many people skip because “running is boring”). So, treat your heart like you would your pecs, quads, or glutes. Give it the attention it deserves with 30-40 minutes of cardio on your exercise bike a few times a week. If you’ve been holding off from cardio because you hate running, we think you are going to love spinning.
HIIT VS STEADY STATE CARDIO
One of the greatest things about spinning is how well you can control the workout intensity. Spinning is great for steady state cardio (keeping the same pace for 30-40 minutes), but it is also great for HIIT (high intensity interval training).
HIIT involves alternating from high intensity to low intensity, in intervals . For example, you could do 20 sets of 20 second bursts followed by 10 seconds rest. That’s a 10 minute workout only, but it is still highly effective for your cardiovascular health as well as your VO2 Max.
V02 Max is your bodies ability to absorb oxygen during exercise, which is super important for aerobic fitness and the best indicator for cardiorespiratory fitness. If you have a high V02 Max, your stamina will be incredible (and your heart will be super healthy).
Overall, research shows that the best cardio programs include both HIIT and easier steady state cardio. An exercise bike at home or the office is perfect for both. It can be hard to get yourself outside for a run, let alone sprints. But when you have an exercise bike staring at you every morning, we guarantee you will want to just get on it and get it done.
Plus, when doing steady state cardio, you can throw on the TV and watch your favorite show or the news from the comfort of your home!
By the way, HIIT will have you burning calories long after the workout is over thanks to the afterburn effect.
Stationary cycling is the perfect combination of cardio and lower body strength training. What does this mean? Well, a whole lot of calorie burn, and with calorie burn comes fat loss if your diet is on point.
Now, if you are wondering how stationary bikes can be considered strength training, then you’ve definitely never gotten on one and did 30 minutes at a higher resistance, because if you have, you’d know it definitely puts your lower body through the wringer.
Stationary bikes will strength your calves, hamstrings, and quadriceps, as well as your core, back and glutes. Add in some upper body movements like you see in spinning classes (i.e. bike handlebar push ups) and you can really make it total body resistance training.
Resistance training and aerobic fitness combined is the perfect recipe for burning fat and toning muscles.
Now, in terms of how many calories you will burn, and how much fat loss can occur, it all depends on what kind of stationary bike workouts you are doing and what your diet looks like.
On average, for low intensity steady state stationary cycling, you can burn around 207 calories in an hour, and if you are at medium intensity you can burn around 415 calories per hour. High intensity is around 620 calories AND very high intensity can be as much as 738 calories per hour.
Needless to say, keeping a high intensity for an hour is no easy feat. You’ll have to be an advanced cyclist for this.
That’s why we love HIIT. It’s a little easier on the mind knowing that you get low intensity, low resistance periods between high intensity high resistance intervals.
But, don’t get us wrong, it’s not going to be a walk in the park either.
We won’t get into how to do HIIT workouts with stationary bikes just yet...
HIIT really makes the time fly compared to steady state. MOREOVER, it makes the calories burn FAST.
Indoor cycling HIIT workouts can easily burn 600 calories in 30-40 minutes (and you need to consider that the first 10-15 minutes and last 5-10 minutes are warm up and cool down on the bike so you won’t be doing the intervals in that time - the actual HIIT last for 10-20 minutes.
As for diet, no matter how many calories you burn while cycling, you won’t get toned and drop your body fat percentage without the right diet. To lose body fat and get ripped, you need to eat at a deficit.
If you eat at a slight deficit and do 40-60 mins on the stationary bike 3 times a week, you can expect to lose around 2 pounds a week conservatively.
Note: We love doing fasted cardio in the morning. Jump out of bed, have a coffee and get on your stationary bike for 30-60 mins every other morning and you will see your body get lean and sexy in no time.
Exercise bikes are not just about cardio and burning calories. When you start to increase the resistance level, your legs, core, and back muscles are going to be firing off like crazy. Even your arms are going to get tired from holding onto the handlebars (that’s not even considering adding in some handlebar push ups during the workout).
Just remember the days when you were a kid, riding around on your bike and you hit a steep road. Sometimes it was so hard that you’d have to get off the bike and push it up.
The kids who rode up got stronger!
You can treat your workout like you would the road, increase the resistance every couple of minutes like you are about to go up a hill before more flat road ahead.
If you want to build muscular strength, perform resistance sets like you would when working out with weights. Switch to high resistance every minute or two.
And while stationary bikes are great for leg development, we still recommend training legs with strength and hypertrophy training (whether that’s bodyweight or with free weights, that’s up to you).
On top of strength training, spinning is great for muscular endurance too. Being able to fight against the high resistance for extended periods of time is going to train your leg muscles for endurance like no other.
Note: Muscular endurance and aerobic endurance are different. Aerobic endurance is about oxygen supply, muscular endurance is the ability to repeatedly exert force for extended periods of time. With cycling, you get both!
As for muscle hypertrophy, cycling on a high resistance level (relative to your strength) and doing HIIT is definitely going to involve a lot of muscle fiber recruitment of the lower body muscles, which means you will build muscle. Just look at any cyclist legs, they have super impressive thighs and calves.
That said, your legs aren’t going to get huge like they would with squats, but they are going to get bigger and lean.
The two main muscles worked when cycling are your quads and hamstrings. When indoor cycling (or spinning, whatever you wanna call it), you have two strokes, push and pull. You push the pedals down, working your quads and calves, and pull the pedals back, working your hamstrings.
If you come up from the saddle, it's not only your legs that are going to be working like crazy, your core will be too!
Another great thing about stationary bikes for strength and hypertrophy is that you can have a form of progressive overload thanks to the ability to change resistance levels. Each week or every couple weeks you can increase the resistance, thus maximizing muscle fiber recruitment. Of course, you can also increase the intensity, which is need for progressive overload.
So, your exercise bike workouts should not be getting easier anytime soon. You can always keep improving. It’s a lot harder to do this with running because you can only go faster --- adding resistance with weighted vests is possible, but it only adds to the impact on your knees and ankles, which leads us to our next point...
Unlike running, which can be hard on your joints (especially the knees), indoor cycling is low impact. Low impact mean it’s easy on the joints. So, you get much of the same benefits of running and sprinting (if you do spinning sprints) but without the pressure on your joints.
Note: If you are the type of indoor cyclist who likes to get up off the saddle, then you will of course be adding a little more impact on your joints, but it is still less than running. The added benefit of that is you are increasing the difficulty, so you increase the strength and stability aspect of spinning.
Another thing to note is that because indoor cycling is easier on the knees and ankles, you can go for longer without feeling uncomfortable, which can lead to more calories burnt.
All that said, while using an exercise bike is less likely to cause joint issues than running, it is still possible. No cardio is as low impact on the joints as swimming!
Indoor cycling is also great for joint mobility and health for your ankle, knees and hips. Spinning moves your joints through a greater range of motion than running, which helps maintain good mobility and it helps to reduce inflammation. If you start to increase the resistance, you also strengthen joint stabilizer complexes too. This will make your ankles, knees and even hips more injury resilient.
Expect a nice surge of endorphins and serotonin after a good spinning session. This brings on a sense of well-bring. You gotta love those happy hormones.
Runners are not the only ones who get that “high”. You can definitely achieve the same with an exercise bike.
With that, you also get energy. A study published in the journal Psychotherapy and Psychosomatics, showed that cycling increased energy levels by 20 percent and decreased fatigue by 65 percent. This is because of the brain releases the neurotransmitter dopamine, which is linked to energy.
After every spinning workout, you will feel like your mood is more stable and you’ll have a nice release of stress and anxiety. It’s the perfect way to start the day - a cycling high.
Like all exercise and cardio, there are many other health benefits that come from indoor cycling, such as:
Besides health benefits, there are a few notable reasons why exercise bikes are great for most people and why everyone should have one in their home.
One of the great things about an exercise bike is that you can do it rain, sleet or snow! You don’t have to abide by the weather. A stationary bike is always ready to go (or better yet, to stay).
There’s no need to go anywhere to get a great workout in. People often spend as much time getting to the gym and back home as the workout itself. We are, of course, not saying that you shouldn't go to the gym, we are just saying that exercise bikes are more convenient if you are always short on time. Plus, you can do things like watch the news or your favorite show and watch your little ones, all while getting a great workout in.
Also, in regards to running and outdoor cycling, stationary bikes are far safer. Outdoor workouts, especially on a bike, involve risks, such as poor road conditions and haphazard drivers. If you are in a big city, you also don’t have to deal with traffic, which can slow down your workout and make it less effective.
All in all, indoor cycling is convenient and safe. Throw on some music or your favorite TV show and crush a workout from the comfort of your home, morning, afternoon or night.
While stationary bikes are obviously not as cheap as a pair of shoes for running outdoor, the price is actually not that far off for some exercise bikes.
There are very expensive exercise bikes on the market with a bunch of fun and convenient features, but you can find a simply, perfectly acceptable exercise bike for as low as a hundred (or couple hundred of) dollars.
Compared to treadmills, rowing machines, weigh training equipment and cycling classes, getting your own stationary bike is super affordable. Plus, it will last you a very, very long time.
Note: If you are a member of a gym already, use their stationary bike to see how you like it. Do a couple workouts over the next week and if its something you enjoy, it’s definitely worth getting one for you house, especially if you are looking to cut weight. There’s nothing better than waking up in the morning and being able to conveniently get a cardio workout in from the comfort of your home.
Indoor cycling doesn’t have to be boring like running is for most people. There are various kinds of workouts that you can do on a stationary bike, each with various structures.
Of course, you have steady state cycling, where you pick a resistance and pedal away for 30-60 minutes, but you can also do HIIT and strength workouts.
With HIIT, there are so many ways to create a stationary bike workout.
Same with strength workouts. Get a pair of light dumbbells ready to go (place them in the middle of your handlebars) and you can throw curls, extensions, presses and rows in the mix.
Here are a few stationary bike workouts that will show you indoor cycling never has to get boring.
51 Minute Interval Workout:
You can do the sprints standing or seated.
12 Minute HIIT:
You can do the sprints standing or seated.
Descending Ladder HIIT:
Hills and Speed Intervals:
These are just a few of endless workout ideas for exercise bikes. You can always keep indoor cycling workouts fun, fresh and exhausting! If things are getting boring or too easy, you are being creative. Luckily, you don’t need to think much since indoor cycling is extremely popular these days and you can find hundreds of workouts online.
Both indoor cycling and treadmill runs, and outdoor cycling and outdoor runs have their advantages and are two of the best ways to improve your cardiovascular health and aerobic capacity.
Steady state running can burn more calories than steady state cycling, but it’s harder on the joints than cycling, so you can go longer and do cycling more often. What’s more, if you are talking HIIT, its a lot easier to implement with stationary bikes than treadmills. The resistance can change instantly, unlike a treadmill which take a few moments to slow down in speed (plus you need to press buttons, which throws off your stride).
As for building muscle, stationary bikes, like spin bikes, will definitely build muscle in your lower body better.
All in all, do both if you can! That’s the best of both worlds. However, if you can only choose one, a stationary bike for your home makes way more sense than a treadmill. It’s more affordable, space-friendly, and convenient to move around. Plus, if you want to run, you can just go outside when the weather permits or you feel like it.
Assuming you are going for a spin bike or an exercise bike (or a rear wheel trainer), here are some good tips for beginners...
We hope that all this information and the benefits will entice you to get a stationary bike (or rear wheel trainer) and RIDE. Once you get into it, it is super addicting, especially if you get the interactive screen or rear wheel trainer. Your mind, body, and health are going to reap the rewards big time. This is key to longevity.
Have questions? Feel free to reach out.
Here are out favorite options for spin bikes, exercise bikes and rear wheel trainers on Amazon...
April 12, 2021 1 Comment
With so many options for barbells on the market, deciding on which one to buy can be somewhat of a trying task. Not only are there different types of barbells (Olympic, Multipurpose, Power), but there are many specific features to consider as well, such as the kind of knurling, coating, PSI tensile strength and so on.
The good news is we've done all the research on barbells for you, so all you have to do is read this guide to buying a barbell and you will know exactly what barbell to buy.
After reading this, you will know which type of barbell suits your training and what makes a barbell good quality.
At the end, we will also discuss speciality barbells that you can get in addition to your main barbell...that is, if you have the means, as the first priority is your main barbell, which is the straight barbell that we all imagine when we hear the word “barbell”.
And while all straight barbells appear similar to the untrained eye, there are important distinctions to be aware of.
This barbell buyer's guide is about to completely change the way you look at barbells. You are about to become a barbell specialist, and even if you don’t buy a barbell for yourself, the next time you go to the gym, you will know exactly which barbell to pick up depending on the type of lift you are doing.
Now, let's start with a super basic question, as it will lead us into the important points of this buyers guide...
A barbell is a long metal bar that you can attach plates of varying weights at each end. It used for weightlifting, to build muscle, strength and power.
It looks like this:
The barbell is extremely versatile and effective for building muscle and strength, which is why it is arguably the most popular and valuable type of equipment for fitness, ever.
While there are many types of weightlifting bars, the barbell is the most common.
You will find barbells at every commercial gym. They weigh 44lbs and have a very high weight load capacity. Weighted plates that slide on to the ends of barbells can be as little as 1.5lbs and as much as 55lbs.
Barbells are the most popular type of equipment because with barbells and plates, you can easily vary the weight from exercise to exercise, and you can gradually increase the amount you lift over time. This is ideal for progressive overload, which is essential for building muscle and strength.
What’s more, the perfectly balanced and long design of a barbell allows you to lift heavy weight. For example, it's much easier to lift a 200lb barbell than it would be to lift a 200lb rock.
Also, barbell lifts mimic the natural strength curves of our muscles and they can have a much higher maximum load than other free weight equipment, which is great for engaging more overall muscle mass and stimulating hypertrophy (muscle growth).
On top of that, barbell training is very straightforward. The main lifts with barbells are squats, deadlifts, bench press, overhead press and rows. Those 5 exercises (and pull ups or chin ups) are really all you need to get stronger and grow muscle. There’s nothing finicky or convoluted about it.
Because of all that, anyone who is serious about building muscle and becoming stronger will build their training plan around barbell exercises. Barbell lifts are often the foundation of any serious lifter’s (bodybuilder, weightlifter, CrossFitter, powerlifter) training routine, and other exercises like push ups, dumbbell lateral raises, and leg presses are simply additional or accessory.
So, if you want to be serious about lifting weight and get bigger and stronger, then you need a barbell and plates (you clearly already know that since you are reading this)…
However, not all barbells are alike. They can be slightly thinner or thicker, have more “whip”, different finishing, knurling, load capacity, and so on. There are even speciality barbells that have a completely different design and are made for a more specific purpose.
Main Types of Barbells
In addition to the above, there are barbells designed for specific lifts (deadlifts and squats) and women and youth barbells. Like the above barbells, they are all straight barbells.
Speciality Weightlifting Bars
These weightlifting bars all have their own unique design.
Considering the many options, it’s important to know what the different types of barbells are and how to use them best.
Below, we will cover everything you need to know about the above barbells and speciality weightlifting bars, so you can buy the right type of barbell for your home gym or know what type of barbell to use depending on what exercises you are doing at the gym.
We will start with the different kinds of “main” barbells, as one of these will be your foundation for weight training. Then we will discuss speciality barbells that would be barbells you get in addition to your main barbell.…
To know what kind of barbell to buy, t’s important to know what kind of training you plan to do and your fitness goals, as well as what features of a barbell to pay attention to. This will help determine the right barbell for you. So, let's start there...
The type of training people do can fall into a few categories - strength & hypertrophy training (or bodybuilding and general fitness), Olympic lifting, powerlifting, and CrossFit.
Most people who workout are bodybuilding, but they are not "bodybuilders" per se.
The same is true for people who want to get stronger. Strength training doesn't mean you want to be a powerlifter (powerlifting is a sport with a much narrower focus than most people have when strength training at the gym).
The vast majority of people who workout simply want to build muscle, get stronger, and look better.
So, they have a mix of strength and hypertrophy training.
Luckily, the two go hand-in-hand for the most part.
Moreover, the kind of barbell lifts for bodybuilding or hypertrophy training and strength training are the same, just the sets and rep ranges differ.
As such, we can group this all together into general fitness (strength and hypertrophy training).
Main barbell lifts for strength and hypertrophy training:
Other common exercises with barbells are rack pulls, curls and skull crushers.
Note: People who do general fitness for strength and hypertrophy will do a lot of other accessory exercises with various equipment or bodyweight exercises too. It's not all about barbells like Olympic Weightlifting and Powerlifting.
Both lifts are explosive, fast movements that bring the barbell from the floor to overhead.
The barbell used in Olympic Weightlifting is standardized so if you want to be an Olympic lifter, you need a specific barbell called an Olympic Barbell.
Note: “Olympic Barbell” is sort of a misnomer in gyms these days. While almost all the different kinds of main barbells look the same, generally speaking, Olympic Barbells, like the other barbells, have specific features that make them unique, which we will explain below in the types of main barbell section.
Powerlifting is a sport where athletes aim to lift as much weight as possible for 1 rep for three different barbell exercises - squats, deadlift, bench press. That’s it. The entire sport revolves around those three barbell lifts.
During competition, a winner is determined by the accumulative weight of all three barbell lifts.
While powerlifting has standardizations for the barbells they use, it is common for them to use different bars for each exercise, which is why squat barbells, deadlift barbells, and bench press barbells exist. They are similar in how they look, but like Olympic barbells, they have features that make them unique and ideal for these specific lifts.
Note: Powerlifting is really a no-nonsense form of working out. They literally only do the big compound lifts with barbells during training. Some powerlifters may do some accessory work, but sparingly (they only do it if it will somehow help their bench, squat or deadlift).
Crossfit is as much of a lifestyle as it is a type of training. In the most general sense, CrossFit is about strength and conditioning. It involves a lot of functional movements performed at a high intensity.
Crossfit training is a mix of aerobic exercise, calisthenics, Olympic weightlifting, and strength training.
Main Barbell Lifts in Crossfit:
As you can see, it combines both normal strength training and Olympic style training, with its own unique touch. Because of that, Crossfitters need a multipurpose barbell with a design that works well for both standard strength training and Olympic weightlifting.
Because the vast majority of us want to simply get stronger and build muscle, aka strength training and hypertrophy training, this is the group will be placing emphasis on. We will also put emphasis on Crossfit as it is extremely popular.
As for Olympic weightlifters and powerlifters, because this is a type of sport with specific standardized requirements for barbells, it is straightforward for what kind of barbell is needed. Nevertheless, we will go over each barbell in detail, as well as good speciality barbells based on the type of training, with the pros and cons.
We are almost ready to dive into the different kinds of barbells, but before we do that, we want to go over the characteristics of barbells, so you know what to pay attention to when buy one. This will also help make sense of everything that we discuss about the different types of barbells.
The sleeves of a barbell are at the ends of the bar. They are where the weight plates are held. While most barbells you find at commercial gyms have 2 inch diameter rotating sleeves, standard “cheap” barbells have 1 inch sleeves.
Any good barbell with 2 inch sleeves will rotate.
Rotating sleeves are important because it allows the plates to rotate as you move the bar. This reduces the amount of torque that the plates create, allowing for a more secure grip and better overall stability.
Knurling is a finishing process on metal used for gripping purposes. The knurling process can be any combination of horizontal, vertical or crossing lines.
Depending on the kind of barbell, the type of knurling and where the knurling is placed will differ.
Overall, knurling can be stronger as to offer more grip or it can be softer so your hands can slide around the barbell easier. You may think that a soft knurling is not ideal as it is less grippy, but it is actually an important feature for Olympic lifters who need to slide their hands on the barbell during lifts.
Most beginners prefer softer knurling because it doesn't beat up their hands as much. However, after a few weeks of using a barbell with a rougher knurl, your hands will get use to it anyway as you will build calluses. So, if you are not doing lifts that require your hands to move on the barbell, a stronger grip is better.
If you look at the knurling closely, you can see three main styles. You have hill knurling, which is light and soft on the hands; volcano knurling, which is like a medium grip and is not too rough on the hands; and mountain knurling, which provides the most grip and is roughest on the hands.
With all that said, you don't really need to think too much about knurling if you know what kind barbell you are buying. Olympic barbells have light knurling, multipurpose barbells have medium knurling, and power barbells have strong knurling. This is all by design, based on the needs of the lifts. For example, powerlifters need a strong grip, so of course a power barbell will have a strong grip.
Most gyms go for barbells with mild or light knurling because then beginners will not complain or be turned away from working out with barbells if their hands hurt - when you are lifting light loads, grip isn't as important (so you will find a lot of Olympic or Multipurpose barbells at commercial gyms). This is unfortunate for more advanced lifters who go heavy, as they need a stronger knurling for deadlifts (a power barbell). BUT, a good gym will have different barbells to meet the needs of various levels of lifters and their type of training.
Barbells will vary in thickness and “whip”. Whip is how much and how easy a barbell can flex under pressure from the load without permanently bending.
Barbells made for Olympic weightlifting have a slightly thinner shaft. These barbells have whip as it is important for Olympic lifts. It can aid in an experienced lifters ability to lift more. Moreover, Olympic lifters drop the barbell from overhead, so flexibility of the bar is important. All that said, for the average gym-goer who doesn't lift very heavy, the bar is not going to show whip anyway. It only occurs with significant loads and/or fast lifts.
An Olympic barbell's shaft diameter is 28mm. The plate used for Olympic weightlifting are Olympic Bumper Plates, which are rubber coated and made to be dropped from above.
Multipurpose barbells, which are often used in CrossFit, are designed to be thin enough to make turning the hand during a lift easier, flexible enough for some whip during fast lifts, and just hard enough to not flex when doing strength exercises like deadlifts and squats. The whip is like a happy medium that play nice for both fast and slow lifts.
Multipurpose barbells are usually 28.5mm and CrossFit also uses Bumper Plates as they can be dropped.
For standard strength training and hypertrophy, whip is not good, as the movements are not explosive like in Olympic weightlifting. Having the bar flex during a deadlift, squat or bench press is not good. In fact, it can be dangerous. Moreover, you will not be dropping the bar down, you will be placing it down (after all, that’s best for hypertrophy and strength gains). Because of that, a thicker, stiffer, more rigid bar is great. Note: Even these bars can start to flex when the weight is over 500lbs.
Strength Training Power barbells that you find most commonly at commercial gyms are 29mm (but speciality squat barbells are thicker). The plates used in normal strength training and bodybuilding are thicker (the ones you see in commercial gyms) than powerlifting plates, which are thin, as powerlifters need to have as much weight as possible on each side.
All in all, if you plan to do normal strength training like deadlifts, squats, bench press, overhead press, and bent over rows, having no whip is best.
There are so many different mixtures and grades of steel, so we will just keep this simple. Any of the following steels will be appropriate for barbells and can withstand more weight than any human has ever deadlifted.
But, don’t worry too much about this. Most sellers won’t even go into detail on it, but they will go into detail on tensile strength.
What's considered quality tensile strength for barbells?
Anything above 170,000 PSI is appropriate for a commercial gym, and a home gym can get away with a little less. That said, when you start going lower than 160,000 PSI, the barbell is subject to quality issues.
Be sure to read reviews and look at the fine print.
Both bearings and bushings allow the sleeves to rotate.
Here are the key differences…
Bearing barbells provide a little faster and smoother spin than bushing barbells, so they are recommended for faster lifts found in Olympic Lifting and Crossfit. Bearing barbells cost a little more too.
Bushing Barbells are better for heavy and slower lifts, such as deadlifts, squats and bench press. Bushing barbells are also more durable and require less maintenance. They are easier to disassemble, clean and reassemble than their needle bearing counterparts.
Overall, you don’t really need to get caught up in bushings vs bearings. Both options are suitable for either kind of training, but generally speaking bushings are good for strength training and bearings are good for Olympic lifts. Note: Bearing bars can be hybrid style so they can play nice with both kinds of lifts.
Length is something you almost don’t even need to think about. Any proper weightlifting bar (be that Olympic, Powerlifting, Multipurpose or Strength Training Power Barbells) will be approximately 7.2 feet long. This is what you want.
Only women’s and youth bars will be shorter, as well as cheap department store “standard” barbells.
So, for men, always go for a 7 foot barbell.
For women, you can go for a 7 foot barbell just as well, but if you are a smaller than average woman, a woman's barbell may be better, which is 6.5 feet (they weight 33lbs) and the handles are slightly thinner. Note: They can still hold a lot of weight!
Youth barbells are 5.5 feet and they weigh 22lbs.
Standard Barbells with 1 inch sleeves are the cheap ones you find at department stores and they are 5.5-6 feet. We definitely do not recommend them. Only very beginners can get away with them and even they will grow out of a standard barbell quickly.
Barbells are made out of steel, which is obviously a very strong material. However, it is vulnerable to corrosion. With that, barbells will rust way before they start to warp or break.
In regards to rust, this depends on where you barbell is. If in a humid environment, it will rust quicker. It also depends on what protective finish your barbell has, if any.
There are several common types of protective finishings for barbells, which vary in the degree that they fight against corrosion.
There may be some disadvantages with certain coatings, which we will make note of as we go through each coating.
Starting with bare steel, let’s go from the least to most resistance to rust…
Which barbell coating should you buy?
If you have the money to spend, go for a stainless steel barbell. It feels great and it will last forever, looking flawless as you past it down to your children. However, if you are on a budget, zinc is a good option, as it is durable and effective for rust resistance, and it is affordable.
If looks are important to you, you may want to opt for a hard chrome plated barbell rather than a zinc barbell. However, it will cost a little more. Also, get some chalk ready. Either way, both zinc and chrome are a little “slippery”.
What about Cerakote?
A lot of people like Cerakote, as it does have better rust protection than everything but stainless steel barbells, they keep their fresh look for a very long time, and they feel grippier than other coatings, but if you are going to spend the extra money, you might as well cough up a little more for the stainless steel option, which is the best option possible.
Note: Most Cerakote barbells have Chrome sleeves. In fact, hard chrome sleeves are common among barbells.
Feel Over Appearance and Durability
Again, the best option is stainless steel because it feels raw like bare steel but it will not rust and it will look like new forever.
If you are willing to do maintenance, then bare steel and oxide are good options for those on a budget. Bare steel has no rust protection, so consistent maintenance is required, oxide has low-to-medium rust protection, so maintenance is required but not as often as bare steel.
Our point is, we prefer feel over appearance, so we'd go for these options.
Have a Garage Gym or Workout Outside?
Stainless steel is obviously the best choice. But, Zinc is a good option for garage gyms and outside use too because it's the most affordable of the rust resistant options.
TLDR - Summary of coatings/finishings:
If you have a bare steel or oxide barbell, maintenance is required. It’s not difficult, you just have to keep up with it. Even zinc should be cared for if you want it to look great for a longer time.
How to care for a barbell?
Brush out the chalk (and dead skin) with a nylon bristle. Chalk causes rust because it collects moisture.
Make sure you use a nylon bristle as a metal bristle will take off the coating.
Also, use a light coat of 3-in-1 oil all over the shaft of the barbell on a weekly basis (obviously not before using it).
This will keep ensure barbell lasts for many years.
While there are many speciality barbells on the market, you will only need to think about one of those when you already have your straight main barbell.
Assuming you only want one barbell, let’s have a look at the various main barbells to choose from, with best uses and pros and cons to help you decide which one is best for you.
Check out our full post on the Best Barbells on the market today for a full list that will fit all budgets.
NOTE: We will be following ROGUE's barbell dimensions and features when discussing the types of barbells below, as they follow the standards of Olympic sport and Powerlifting, and they are the best in the business when it comes to fitness in general. A lot of Amazon sellers and small brands source barbells from China and their barbells have different dimensions or features than what's stated below, so don't let that confuse you. It's not to say they are bad, but the following information is official -- SOME AMAZON SELLERS HAVE LEGIT SIZES/FEATURES, so we will only recommend the ones that do.
Standard barbells are around 6 feet long and they are 1 inch in diameter (which includes the entire bar, ends and middle) and they weigh around 15kg (33lbs). The “sleeves” do not rotate and the middle of the bar is separated by the ends of the bar using a stopper.
The name standard makes it sound like it is a standard barbell that most people use, but it's not. The simple fact is, you should never get a standard barbell unless it is free. Some people have them at their home gyms (you will never find them at any respectable gym) but if you are at all serious about lifting, a standard barbell is simply not adequate. The following pros and cons will explain why…
Overall, if you are going to buy a barbell, just avoid a standard barbell and go for one of the following barbells to come. The only people who should buy a standard barbell are those who will never be serious about lifting…but then why even buy a barbell? Just get a couple dumbbells.
Standard vs Olympic
Beginners often ask, should I get an Olympic Barbell or a Standard Barbell. This question makes it seem like all 7 foot, 2 inch rotating-sleeve bars are “Olympic”, but they aren't. Again, the term "Olympic" is a sort of misnomer. While all 7 foot barbells that you find at gyms are often referred to as Olympic Bars, there are distinctions between the various kinds of barbells for lifting that you should be aware of. They are not all made for Olympic lifting. They are not all Olympic barbells. So, it’s not as cut and dry as Olympic vs the Standard barbell, as you’ve obviously gathered by now if you have read all the information above. Olympic Barbells have special features, as do the other kinds of 7 foot barbells with 2 inch rotating sleeves.
It’s important to know this when buying a barbell or you could end up getting the wrong barbell (although almost any 7 foot barbell with 2 inch rotating sleeves will be perfectly fine for the general public).
NOTE: While Standard Barbells are technically the 1 inch shorter barbells, the standard barbell size is actually 7 feet with 28-32mm shaft and 2 inch sleeves. So, there is often confusion when people talk about standard barbells. Any gym will have the standard size of 7 feet, but not cheap standard barbells.
Sorry to beat this point down so hard, but we just want to make it clear.
Olympic Barbells were designed specifically for Olympic Weightlifting sport, hence the name.
Olympic barbells are ideal for lifts that involve explosive force that bring the barbell up over head or onto the front of their shoulders. These are called fast lifts. This is because the barbells have whip.
Olympic sport is all about two lifts, the Snatch and the Clean and Jerk. However, it’s not just Olympic Weightlifters who use these two exercises. These lifts are also found in athletic programs and CrossFit because they are good for developing general athleticism.
You won’t find bodybuilders, powerlifters, strongmen or any casual lifter doing Olympic lifts because they simply aren’t good for building muscle or strength. There isn’t enough time under tension and the rep ranges and training volume is too low for that. Moreover, the weights are dropped, not lowered, which only further reduces muscle growth opportunity…Plus, only CrossFit gyms (boxes) or Olympic Sport training facilities will allow you to drop the bar to the ground. You need bumper plates for that and the space.
Now, it’s not to say that Olympic lifts are not useful. Once we are big and strong, learning Olympic lifts can give us explosive strength. For athletes such as football players, this is great. Note: CrossFit is not the same as Olympic weightlifting but CrossFit does use the Snatch and the Clean and Jerk, which is why these two exercises have become popular recently. If it wasn’t for CrossFit, not many fitness enthusiast would know about these exercises, let alone be doing it.
Let’s talk about the features of an Olympic Barbell:
Olympic barbells are 7.2 feet, they have a 28mm diameter shaft, 2 inch rotating sleeves, and they weigh 44lbs. Again, this is standard across any proper straight barbell. So, let’s take a closer look:
As you can see, Olympic barbells were designed perfectly with Olympic lifts in mind. Nevertheless, the vast majority of barbells at commercial gyms will often be Olympic barbells. Any beginner and most intermediate lifters won’t be able to tell the difference or even care. In fact, some beginners might actually prefer Olympic barbells because the bar is slightly thinner and the grip is softer.
All in all, they are great barbells and you really can’t go wrong, but if you are buying a barbell for your home gym and you want to do more than just fast Olympic lifts, there’s not point in buying one. You have better options.
Olympic Barbell Price:
Typically, Olympic Barbells range from $300-$600, and more towards the higher end. These are official Olympic Barbells, not barbells on Amazon that are labeled "Olympic Barbells" but are not actually made for Olympic sport, rather just general fitness.
Note: Olympic Barbells can be as much as $1000. Olympic events use Olympic Barbells of the highest quality and they cost around that much.
If you are serious about Olympic lifting, then you need to get a real Olympic Bar...
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You will find cheaper options on Amazon, listed as Olympic barbells, but most don't follow the standardized Olympic Barbell features mentioned above (for example they will be called Olympic Barbells but they have a 28.5mm shaft and dual ring markings. It's not to say they aren't fine for general fitness, but you can't guarantee their quality for Olympic lifting like you can with Rogue.
The vast, vast majority of us simply want to get bigger and stronger and look better. To achieve that, you want to do strength training and hypertrophy training.
While the strength training and hypertrophy training are not the same, as strength training involves very little accessory work for shoulders, biceps, triceps, upper back and so on, and hypertrophy a fair amount of accessory work, there is a strong overlap between gaining muscle mass and strength. A lot of muscle growth will come along with gaining strength…
Moreover, the types of barbell lifts you do for strength training and hypertrophy training are exactly the same (as is the tempo), just the volume is different.
Most people design a program that has a good mix of both strength training and hypertrophy training anyway. The two go hand-in-hand. You need more strength to build muscle and more muscle allows you to build more strength. This, again, is where the overlap comes in.
Regardless, whether you are doing strength training or hypertrophy training, you will be doing squats, deadlifts, and bench press most likely, and even though you are not a powerlifter, you still want a barbell that is steady, rigid and made for deliberate lifting. You will be doing no throwing or dropping for hypertrophy or strength training.
As such, if you plan on doing bodybuilding or strength training (or powerlifting), you want a strength training barbell. It’s that simple. This kind of barbell is known as a power bar.
Features of a Power Barbell:
Strength training power barbells are 7.2 feet, they have a 29mm diameter shaft, 2 inch rotating sleeves, and they weigh 44lbs. Special features that make them ideal for strength and hypertrophy training are:
Interestingly, even though the vast majority of commercial gyms have members who only do strength training and hypertrophy training, these are the least common barbell. Your average gym might not even have one. However, any high end or large commercial gym will have have some power barbells.
Who should buy a Strength Training Power Barbell?
If you don’t plan on doing any sort of fast lift and you just want to stick to strength training and bodybuilding, go for a power bar. The features make it the most ideal for building muscle and strength. This is particularly true for those who are more experienced lifters (even if you are not now, you will be some day if you keep at it, so you want the right barbell to grow with).
Strength Training Power Bar Price:
You can expect to pay a minimum of $280 for a good quality, official powerlifting barbell.
Multipurpose Barbells are designed to be good for both strength/hypertrophy training and Olympic weightlifting. Think of it like a happy medium between a Strength Training Power Barbell and an Olympic Barbell.
Multipurpose barbells (aka General Use Barbells) will work well for bench press, squats, power cleans, deadlifts, and so on. They have medium whip, so they are strong and sturdy yet flexible when needed, they have bushings that allow them to play nice when doing both fast and slow lifts, and the shaft is middle sized (between Olympic and Powerlifting barbells), as is the knurling, which is of medium strength.
Thus, if you are someone who wants to do a mix of training, like Crossfit, this is a great option.
Features of an Multipurpose Barbell:
Multipurpose barbells are 7.2 feet, they have a 28.5mm diameter shaft, 2 inch rotating sleeves, and they weigh 44lbs. Specific features are as follows:
Like Olympic Barbells, Multipurpose Barbells are very common in gyms. If you see a barbell that has two rings, it is a multipurpose barbell. Gyms like them as they are the most versatile barbell and in terms of feel, the grip is good enough for most lifters, but not too strong to rip beginners hands up.
All in all, we can label them as general “Weight Training” barbells - they are really a safe bet…an all-around barbell for lifters who like to train in a versatile manner.
Multipurpose Barbell Price:
Multipurpose barbells are the most affordable of them all. Good quality multipurpose barbells range from $300-350.
Gyms usually get them for around $250 wholesale. The relatively affordable price is why they are the most common barbell you will find at gyms.
There are barbells designed for women. They look the same and the sleeves rotate as well, but they are smaller. They are about a half foot shorter, they have a thinner diameter (25mm) and they are lighter (33lbs).
The question is...
Should a woman get a Woman's Barbell?
It depends on the woman. If you are a strong woman or you are not short, then you definitely can just get a regular barbell. However, if you are a beginner and/or you are not strong, a woman’s barbell makes sense.
A woman’s barbell is ideal for smaller hands and shorter people. This includes men. If you are a much smaller than average man, then even a woman’s barbell could be good as it will be easier to grip.
If you are below average beginner strength too, then a woman’s barbell may be ideal. Many women have trouble’s learning lifts because even the weight of the bar (without plates) is too heavy. While they most certainly can get stronger and learn with a 45lb bar, they can speed up the learning process if they have a woman’s barbell.
Moreover, in the long run, a woman’s barbell for smaller women is fine as they can still hold hundreds of pounds safely.
All in all, women on average are shorter and smaller than men, so there are barbells designed to their stature. So, it might make sense for certain women (and even men) to get a woman’s barbell. There’s no downside to it for smaller people. However, more often than not, a woman can use a men’s barbell just as well. You can see this at the gym since many women will be using regular barbells, not women’s barbells. So, only get a woman’s barbell if you really think it’s better suited to you (you are shorter and lighter). If not, you definitely don’t need a woman’s barbell, just go for a normal barbell.
Women’s Barbell Cost:
You can expect to pay anywhere from $150+ for a women’s barbell.
Sleek, black Cerakote coating makes this black beauty, giving you impact strength, resistance against corrosion, abrasion and wear...
After reading the above, you should probably already know what barbell is right for you, but let’s just sum it up in the simplest manner possible.
If your focus is hypertrophy training and strength training, then get yourself a Strength Training Power Barbell that powerlifters use. The next best option would be a multipurpose bar. For most people, you will never go heavy enough to notice the difference, but remember, the grip won’t be as strong (which may or may not be a positive for you).
Power Barbell - Our Choice:
If you are focused on Olympic Lifting, then get yourself an Olympic Barbell.
Olympic Barbell - Our Choice:
For gyms, ideally, you want all three options. However, most gyms go for multipurpose barbells as good ones can be bought for around $250, and they do the trick for 95+% of people who go to gyms.
As for the other features we mentioned - coating, bushing or bearing, type of steel - you need to decide for yourself. If you have the money, you can get any of the barbells in stainless steel, which would be the best choice.
Powerlifter? If you want to be a pro powerlifter, then you should get a power bar and ideally a squat bar and deadlift bar. You will see why after reading about them further below.
No matter what kind of barbell you buy, you should be able to get a good barbell that meets your demands for around $250-300 and a damn near perfect barbell for $500.
It’s worth spending a little extra for a high quality barbell. It will be the heart of your training, and you will get so much use out of it. It’s a great investment that will last you such a long time.
If you want a barbell that is undoubtedly high quality, no matter what kind of barbell it is, shop with Rogue. They are the best in the business. They are scientists with this sh*t.
Should I buy a barbell on Amazon?
If you want a barbell that's under $200, there are plenty on Amazon. However, quality is not guaranteed. Just be sure to read plenty of reviews before purchasing. If it's cheap, don't expect it to be great.
NOTE: A lot of Amazon sellers use various names for one product. For example, they will call their barbell an "Olympic Multipurpose Barbell for Powerlifting". So don’t let that confuse you. These are barbells made in China, so they don't follow the rules for each barbell that we will explain below.
Speciality weightlifting bars on Amazon are fine, but again, Rogue has them too if you want quality guaranteed bars.
After you have your main straight barbell, you really have everything you need to build as much muscle and strength as possible. With your main barbell and weight plates, you can do so many different exercises through every movement pattern. Again, you really don’t need any other weightlifting bar.
That said, if you want to make your weightlifting arsenal even more badass, fun, and add some lifting variety to your routine, speciality barbells can be great.
So, while they are not necessary, they can be useful. If you have the money, and you are a serious lifter, they are worth getting.
Let’s first talk about barbells that will pretty much look identical to the main barbells above, to the untrained eye that is. They are squat bars and deadlift bars, obviously which are made specifically for those lifts.
Note: These three barbells are very unnecessary for bodybuilding. They are only necessary for serious powerlifters. Only when you start lifting really heavy will you even want to consider a squat or deadlift barbell, as your main barbell is perfectly fine. As for gyms, these can be useful for your experienced members.
Squat bars are thicker than any of the main barbells we mentioned and they can be as heavy as 55lbs.
These barbells are made for people who can squat insane amounts of weight. They need to be thicker so the bars won’t flex and wobble. Even with the extra thickness, they are still liable to flex during super heavy squats.
While strength training power bars will hold strong up to 500lbs, they will start to flex and wobble at greater weight. A slight wobble can be dangerous. It’s not exactly something to worry about, but if you are squatting that heavy, you are obviously a very serious lifter, so you better just buy a squat barbell. Think of it like a photographer, they don’t have just one lens, they have different lenses for specific kinds of shots. It's worth the money to get the right product as a pro.
Besides being thicker and heavier, they also have extra center knurling. There will be along strip of knurling at the center, rather than a short strip like on strength training power bars because you won’t be deadlifting with this bar.
All in all, only serious powerlifters need a squat bar. If that’s not you, and you aren’t squatting 500+ pounds, don’t worry about it.
Our choice: Rogue 32MM Squat Bar ($445)
Deadlift bars have the opposite effect as squat bars and strength training barbells. They are meant to flex under heavy loads and the shaft is thinner (27mm) because of it.
With strength training and hypertrophy training, you want a rigid barbell because it keeps lifting tempo smooth and technique consistent for higher reps.
Deadlift barbells are made to lift as much weight as possible for 1 REP. That’s it.
The bar flexing as you lift it helps with our strength curve. The hardest part of the deadlift is the first part. So, if the bar bends as the weight leaves the floor, allowing you to open up your hip angle and drive the bar closer to you while reducing range of motion (good for lifting max weight but not for hypertrophy). This improves leverage before you feel the full amount of the bar.
For example, if you are deadlifting 800lbs, when we first pull off the ground a couple inches, we are lifting 500lbs, then the next couple inches it increase to 650lbs, and finally as you keep pulling it reaches the total load of 800lbs, at a point when your joints are in a more optimum range (stronger range of motion).
Again, this is great for 1 rep. But if you have a bar that flexes with multiple reps, it is NOT ideal. If you are doing a few reps in a row and the bar is flexing as you pick it up and put it down, it will throw off your form and it is potentially dangerous.
All in all, deadlift bars are only need for those who want to lift super heavy deadlifts for 1 rep, which is pretty much powerlifters and powerlifters only.
Our choice: Rogue Ohio Deadlift Bar - Cerakote ($395)
There are barbells with a wider diameter. For bench press, you want a barbell that has no flex, similar to a squat barbell, but it won’t have the long center knurling.
A 29mm to 32mm shaft is perfect of bench pressing. The thicker bar not only resists flex but it won’t dig into the hands as much.
Related: Benefits & Variations of Bench Press
The following bars will not look like your main barbell at all. They are totally different, made for their own specific uses.
While there are many kinds of speciality weight lifting bars, we just want to focus on the following ones, as these are the best and only ones you should consider (especially if you are a gym owner).
Note: We will provide options from Rogue and Amazon (as Amazon has some good affordable options for certain speciality bars).
Curl bars (aka EZ bars) are arguably the most useful speciality weightlifting bar you can get. They are perfect for isolation and accessory lifts like curls, reverse curls, overhead tricep extensions, skill crushers, barbell pull overs, underhand rows, and upright rows.
They are 4ft in length, around 30lbs (EZ bars have no standard weight), and they use the same weight plates that you will use for your main barbell.
The real benefit of having an EZ bar is that you have varying degrees of pronation thanks to the bent shape of the bar. This allows the aforementioned lifts to be easier on the joints and tendons of the elbows and wrist. So, while they won’t build more muscle than a regular barbell, they will enable you to get similar growth in a more comfortable manner.
Another benefit of having a curl bar on hand is that you can make your workouts more efficient. You won’t need to keep switching weights up if you were doing supersets. For example, if you were doing barbell rows superset with barbell curls, you could have both your main barbell and curl bar loaded and ready to go so no need to keep taking off and putting on plates.
Overall, curl bars are not necessary, but they are effective for building muscle in your arms and they can help people who have elbow pain when curling with a straight barbell. You’ll be able to find plenty of use for them on days you are training your arms.
Related: 15 Best EZ Bar Exercises
Trap bars have a hexagonal shape, hence them being called hex bars as well.
They weigh about 45lbs, they take the same standard weight plates you use on a straight barbell, and the grip places your hand in a neutral position.
You stand in the middle of them when lifting.
They are mainly used for deadlifts and trap raises, but they can also be used in other unconventional ways. But, let’s just stick to the two main uses for them, as these alone provide interesting variety to your hypertrophy training.
First, your ankle and knee have less limitations than with straight bar deadlifts. You can get more bend in your knees and ankles, which allows you to almost have the same form as a squat but with a different load placement. Changing the placement of the load is important training variable that many lifters overlook. It changes the stress placed on your muscles, which is great for hypertrophy and strength. And while you can do a deadlift with squat form, which places more emphasis on your quads, you can also use the same form as a conventional deadlift with a straight barbell.
Second, the trap bar puts your hands in a neutral grip position. Hand position is another important training variable that changes how stress is placed on your muscles. For both deadlifts and trap raises, the emphasis is placed on your traps more due to the neutral grip. What's more, most people have a stronger grip when in a neutral grip position, so you can likely lift more weight. You will be less limited by grip strength with a trap bar.
Related: How to Improve Grip Strength
Third, they have a higher handle position as the handles are raised above. This means a shorter range of motion for deadlifts. Because of that and the neutral grip, you should be able lift slightly heavier weight. Those with limited hip mobility or back issues from deadlifting will particularly benefit from the raised handles. Note: You can also use the lower handle position if you want a greater range of motion.
Lastly, trap bar deadlifts are just overall easier on the joints. It’s easier to get into a proper deadlift posture. With trap bar deadlifts, you are less likely to strain your lower back.
Overall, the trap bar is great. It is very effective, which is why every gym will have one. Nevertheless, it can never replace a regular barbell.
Related: How Much Does A Hex Bar Weigh?
Safety squat bars have arms that come off the bar and padding that goes around the neck. This allows the bar to sit comfortably and you can hold onto the handles.
If you lack shoulder mobility, the handles solve that problem. But, in our opinion, if you don’t have enough shoulder mobility to hold onto the bar during a back squat, that should be addressed first (although some massive body powerlifters are just so big that it lessens their mobility).
But, it’s not just about shoulder mobility. Safety squat bars shift the center of gravity, which changes the mechanics of the squat. It allows you to get a deeper range of motion by clearing up space for the hips. Thus, it’s also good for those who lack hip mobility or just for anyone who wants to train in a deeper range of motion for squats while maintaining a more upright position, the safety bar squat works.
That said, if you can front squat with a regular barbell, you will have a similar effect of opening up the hips and allowing you to go deeper. The issue is, a lot of people have trouble holding the bar in position for a front squat, and with the safety squat bar, it’s easy thanks to the yoke handles.
Overall, safety squat bars are easier on the low back and they are good for those who lack shoulder mobility. This is why powerlifters like safety squat bars. You can train heavy, safely. However, for the average lifter, these are very unnecessary. In fact, this is the least necessary of all the barbells we’ve mentioned yet.
Oh, and by the way, they typically weigh around 60-65lbs.
Related: Benefits of Safety Squat Bars
The Swiss bar is an upper body weightlifting bar that allows you to have a neutral grip (or slightly pronated depending on the Swiss bar) of varying widths (remember, training variables are good!). It can be used for benching, overhead pressing, rowing, hammer curling, and tricep extensions. The neutral or slightly pronated grip changes the dynamics of all of these exercises. Moreover, it is easier on the shoulders, which is good for someone with shoulder issues or those who just came back from rehab.
They weight around 35lbs, they take the same plates like the rest of the barbells, and they are long enough to fit in a squat rack or bench press.
Overall, it is a cool weightlifting bar that can add variety to your training, which can certainly help for building muscle. BUT, none of these kinds of exercises are necessary in the grand scheme of strength or hypertrophy training.
Cambered bars are arched and they weigh anywhere from 45-85lbs. They take normal weight plates as well.
Cambered bars are made for squatting.
The benefit of cambered bars is that they allow your upper body to stay vertical, training your squat in proper form and max depth. The load placement also places greater emphasis on your posterior chain.
Like the safety squat bar, cambered bars are a little safer and easier on the back. They can help people get stronger in their squat.
Are they needed? Absolutely not. These are about as necessary as a safety squat bar.
While there are many other specialty barbells, that about covers the ones you should even consider.
If you have the wherewithal, then get an EZ curl bar, trap bar, and a Swiss bar. Any lifter who focuses on hypertrophy and strength training can find good use of them all.
If we had to just choose one, it would be an EZ curl bar. If we could choose two, it would be an EZ curl bar and a trap bar.
If you have specific needs, then you need to take that into consideration. For example, if you have shoulder issues, then maybe a Swiss bar would be most beneficial for you.
ALL YOU NEED IS A MAIN BARBELL
If all you could buy was one piece of equipment for building muscle and strength, a barbell would be the ultimate choice. While specialty bars, dumbbells and cable machines are nice to have, they are just conveniences. With just a barbell and plates, you have everything you need to build muscle, get stronger and into fantastic shape.
So, if you can make just one investment, make it a barbell with a set of weight plates.
Related: Barbell Size & Weight Chart
Since the vast majority of us are buying a barbell for hypertrophy and strength training, let’s start there.
Best barbell for strength training and bodybuilding (Power Barbells):
Best Olympic Barbell for Olympic lifting:
Best Multipurpose Barbell:
If you are working out from home and you want to squat, then you need a squat rack, power rack or folding rack.
If you're in the market for a new rack to add to your home gym checkout our posts below that compare the best racks available today.
If you have the money to spend, it would be great to get a bench press. However, if you buy just a bunch, you can set up for benching with most squat racks. Consider this when buying your squat rack as you may just need a bench.
With a bench and a squat rack, you can do all the barbell lifts - squat, bench press (incline and flat), deadlifts (you just need a floor for this), rows, overhead press (again you can use the squat rack for this set up), rack pulls, curls, and so on.
Read our guide on what weight dumbbells you should buy for your home gym.
Have questions? Please feel free to contact us! We are glad to help.
April 01, 2021 1 Comment
This is a comparison of fixed weight steel maces vs adjustable macebells (both filler and plate-loaded) by mace training enthusiast Jan Libourel. Jan compares different types of maces based on functionality, workout time, price, space-friendliness and more.
Almost as soon as I entered the world of “unconventional” fitness, I became aware of macebells (aka steel maces). There were a couple at the little gym where I was introduced to such useful tools as kettlebells, medicine and slam balls, exercise sandbags and other good things. However, they were utilized exclusively for tire slamming, and the proprietor seemed to have scant interest in mace exercises otherwise, erroneously believing them to be very high-risk when performed in proximity to other people. Thus it took me several years before I learned to “embrace the mace.”
At first, I was only aware of fixed-weight, solid macebells like those offered by SET FOR SET and their close competitors. Eventually, though, I learned of the existence of adjustable macebells. It stood to reason that such would come into being, given that adjustable forms of other resistance tools are readily available: The overwhelming majority of barbells sold are adjustable. Fixed-weight barbells are out there, but they seem to be available only in lighter weights and targeted for commercial gyms and other institutions. In my contribution to this blog, I have previously discussed the virtues of fixed-weight vs. adjustable dumbbells. Adjustable kettlebells are offered, but most do not seem to be held in high regard by kettlebell mavens. In any event, I thought it would be interesting to take a look at what’s out there in the way of adjustable macebells, limiting myself to what’s offered in the USA, and then comparing how they stack up against fixed-weight maces in terms of economy, utility and convenience.
Adjustable macebells can be subdivided into two different types: plate-loading and filler-loading. Fillers can include shot in almost any size from #9 to 000, sand or coins. A bit of advice: if you opt for shot, use steel shot as mandated for waterfowl hunting. It’s non-toxic, unlike lead, and when you spill some (as you inevitably will), it can easily be gathered up with a magnet.
In some diligent web searching, I was able to find three American purveyors of plate-loading maces and three of “filler” maces. (If I have overlooked anyone, please be assured that the oversight was entirely unintentional!)
Starting off, there is the Adex system. This uses proprietary interlocking cylindrical weights with hollow centers. They are affixed to the front of the handle by means of a massive, hand-tightened locking screw. It offers 11 weight settings ranging from 6 to 30 pounds. Overall length is 40 inches. It presents a sleek, elegant appearance and seems to be very well made. Base price for the mace version is $269. (Adex and several other firms offer club-length versions and sets, but we will limit our discussion to the macebell versions here.)
The ShoulderRok (variously spelled) has an extra-long 48-inch handle to increase the leverage and challenge of macebell swings. One end of the handle has a hefty disk affixed to keep the plates in place. Behind it is a threaded portion over which Olympic plates are placed. These are secured by a locking nut, just as on a spinlock dumbbell handle. It has an empty weight of 8 pounds. Three finish options are offered, as is a takedown version. Price is $189.95 (Plates not included.)
The Stronger Grip Majestic Mace is the third and final of the plate-loading maces under consideration. Weight empty is 14 pounds, overall length 42 inches. It uses a locking screw similar to the Adex system to affix exercise plates to the handle. Five-pound plates are recommended as optimal. (For the benefit of the uninitiated, Olympic plates have two-inch holes, exercise plates a little over 1.1-inch.) Cost is $275. Club sets are also available.
Unlike plate-loaded macebells, those that use fillers resemble fixed-weight maces except that they have hollow heads into which filler materials can be inserted via a detachable cap. All are conceptually similar.
The Move Strong Sledgebells feature a bright blue finish that may be disconcerting to traditionalists. (Black can be had on special order.) They are offered in two sizes: One with a 5-inch globe weighs 9 pounds empty and can hold 16 pounds of lead shot. It costs $350. The larger version sports an 8-inch globe, weighs 12 pounds empty and can be loaded with up to 50 pounds of lead shot. The overall length is 46 inches. (If I may be permitted an aside, anyone who can perform traditional mace swings with a 62-pound macebell is an amazingly strong individual!) This one will set you back $399.
Rogue Fitness, noted for its huge range of exercise equipment and related gear, offers the Slater Slammer. This is a somewhat stubby mace, with a 30.5-inch handle and a 37.5-inch overall length. It has a starting weight of 25 pounds (which may be too heavy, for novice macebell swingers) and is loadable up to 50 pounds. It is offered by Rogue for $232.50.
Finally, there is the Titan Fitness offering. It has an overall length of 38 inches, an 8-inch globe, with a handle thickness of 2 inches. It has an empty weight of 15 pounds and is loadable up to 40 pounds. At a price of $54.99, it is hands-down the “best buy” of any of the adjustable maces, and it makes one wonder why very similar devices cost so much more.
Were I to acquire one of these devices, my strong inclination would be to go with one of the plate-loading varieties. Plate-loading barbells (and dumbbells) killed off the old-fashioned shot-loaded globe barbells quite rapidly over a century ago, and with good reason, I think! Adjusting the weight of shot-loaded maces requires emptying shot out of the globe, checking the weight at frequent intervals and/or putting shot into the globe. This will require a funnel, measuring scoops or something similar and a scale. Quick weight adjustments, as in circuit training, are all but impossible. As previously mentioned, spills are inevitable and a great nuisance. However, if you want to keep a single macebell loaded to a certain weight, as for tire bashing, and make weight adjustments only rarely, then perhaps a fillable macebell makes sense. Be aware that a supply of shot adds to the cost of the equipment. Shot is customarily sold in 25-pound bags. Prices seem to run from about $55 to $65, plus shipping.
Among the plate-loading maces, only the Adex comes with a complete complement of weights. With the others, you must have an appropriate assortment of barbell/dumbbell plates. Many trainees with a background working with free weights probably already will. Unfortunately, the cost of such plates is quite high at the moment and availability is often limited.
From what I can descry, most, perhaps all, of the adjustable macebells impress me as well made items, and some display considerable ingenuity in design. Nonetheless, all of them seem to be “a solution in search of a problem” or “an answer looking for a question.” (I borrowed these phrases from my late friend Col. Jeff Cooper, whose name may be familiar to some of you.) The simple and salient fact is that every macebell, by virtue of being a leverage bell, permits a wide latitude in adjusting the degree of resistance merely by where you position your hands in relation to the head of the mace. In this respect, it differs from most other exercise weights--the barbell, the dumbbell and the kettlebell.
Let’s look at costs. Will you effect a substantial savings by opting for an adjustable mace over a few fixed macebells? Well, if you chose the Titan Fitness offering at $54.99, you will. However, it uses filler, with the attendant disadvantages cited above, and a bag of shot will cost you as much or more than the mace itself. Finally, its empty weight of 15 pounds may be daunting to many beginners.
By way of comparison, at this time the pre-shipping prices for SET FOR SET maces are: 7lb for $27.95; 10lb for $39.95; 15lb for $54.95; 20lb for $72.95; 25lb for $87.95; 30lb for $99.95. I should surmise that the average male trainee will start off with a 10-pound mace and subsequently acquire 15-, 20-, and 25-pound maces. Total price for this assemblage would be just under $260, and, of course, the maces can be purchased separately at need.
Many women will want to start with a 7-pound mace, and few, I suspect, will wish to progress beyond 20 pounds. For them, the price for four maces would total a trifle less than $196. The only other adjustable macebell that costs appreciably less than a 10- to 25-pound progression of fixed-weight bells would be the ShoulderRok offering at $189.95, and you will need to purchase an assortment of Olympic plates if you don’t already have some.
Ease of transportation and storage are cited by some proponents of the adjustable macebell over the solid type. In point of fact, macebells take up very little room. I have a half-dozen SET FOR SET macebells. They occupy a little more than two feet of otherwise unused wall space in my bedroom and protrude at most about six inches onto the floor. I could equally well keep them under my bed or in a corner of a closet with scant inconvenience.
If I wished to transport my whole assortment of macebells somewhere (a most unlikely occurrence), I could fit the entire lot onto the floor of the cargo section of my old Grand Cherokee and have ample room for all manner of other gear. It has been a long time since I have travelled by bus or train, so I can’t comment on present realities there, but trying to take a mace aboard an airliner as cabin baggage is certain to get you some very unwelcome attention from the TSA. If it goes in the hold in your suitcase, you may be likely to incur a surcharge for the extra weight. My advice would be to forget about taking any sort of weights on your travels (except by car) and rely on resistance bands instead. Most useful pieces of exercise gear they are, can be crammed into a corner of your luggage and weigh next to nothing.
After studying these matters at some length, I remain pleased that I opted for solid macebells. Like many devotees of the macebell, I like to train in circuits. Typically, I’ll start with 100 360s with a 10-pound mace, followed by gravediggers, barbarian squats and uppercuts. Because I have an arthritic left shoulder, for the gravediggers and uppercuts, I use my 20-pound mace for my left side and my 25 pounder for my right. (See my article on training with an arthritic shoulder.) I then repeat the cycle three more times, performing 10-2s with the 10-pounder, then 360s and 10-2s with my 15-pounder with the other exercises remaining the same. If I’m feeling ambitious, I’ll finish up with some 360s with the 20 pounder (even if I’m not gripping the bottom of the handle). I typically complete this workout in about 45 minutes.
This is simple and easy with four solid macebells. Moving them to our high-ceilinged den, where I train in inclement weather, takes little effort and a few feet further into our backyard scarcely more.
I calculate that if I performed this same workout with a plate-loading macebell, I would have to stop and add or remove plates 20 times. With a shot-loaded mace it would be prohibitive, I’m sure. Need I say more?
I consider myself a very simple man, and I like simple, sturdy things. I’ll stick with my solid macebells from SET FOR SET!
Buy a Steel Mace Smart Poster - Scannable QR Codes so you can also watch videos of each movement!
March 24, 2021
When it comes to weighted vests, there are so many options, both in terms of design and size or weight load capacity, that it can be hard to make a decision on what weighted vest to buy. This is why we’ve decided to make this weighted vest buyer’s guide. In this guide, we will cover everything you need to know about weighted vests, which includes the benefits, types of weighted vests, different uses of weighted vests, what size weighted vest (based on your fitness level, the workouts you plan to do and your fitness goals), what to look for in a weighted vest, and where to buy one. We’ve even included a few sample cardio, sprinting, and home workouts to give you an idea of how to incorporate weighted vests into your training plan.
After reading this, you will be able to make an informed decision on what size and what type of weighted vest to buy.
A weighted vest is a vest that you wear during workouts to add extra weight, and thus, resistance. It is designed to make any activity more difficult, for the purpose of building muscle or burning more calories.
A weighted vest is filled with weights, of which they vary in how they implement the weights within the vest and how heavy the vest, and the vest sits over your shoulders, chest, back, and part of your core.
The general design of a weighted vest is similar to a bulletproof vest, so it feels pretty badass to workout with.
That said, there are many designs of weighted vests so not all look alike.
Weighted vests are most commonly worn during bodyweight exercises and while running, however, they can be worn to good effect while doing certain free weight exercises as well. Because the weighted vest forces you to carry more weight, they literally make any activity harder. A couple prime examples would be doing pull ups or push ups with a weighted vest or taking a hike or a run with a weighted vest.
Weighted vests are a great way to build muscle or burn fat. They are a very minimalistic option that can provide serious results. Weighted vests are popular among military, police, and firefighters because it gives them the strength they need for their jobs. They are also popular among athletes and runners because training with a weighted vest is great for improving endurance, speed, and power.
Weighted vests provide real world application for people from all walks of life. If you want to get faster, stronger, build more muscle, and get lean quick, especially without the need of a lot of equipment (i.e. people who workout from home), then a weighted vest is a good purchase.
If you are wondering more about what are weighted vest good for, here is a list of all of the benefits of working out with a weighted vest.
These are the main benefits but there are more. Off the top of the head, you can improve body awareness (balance and coordination) with weighted vests too as the extra weight alters your center of gravity. On top of that, you should have improved posture from strengthening your scapular stabilizer muscles and spine, and an overlooked aspect of weighted vests is the mental fortitude from making your workouts more challenging.
All in all, depending on how you use a weighted vest, what type of weighted vest you have, and how heavy the vest is, they can be very effective for the two most important goals for most people - building muscle mass or burning fat.
At this point you probably know you want a weighted vest, but you aren’t sure which one to get or what size weighted vest to get, as there are so many options on the market. This is why we wrote this guide to buying a weighted vest. We want to help you choose the weighted vest that suits you and your fitness goals best. So, continue reading on...
Related: Top 9 Benefits of Weighted Vests
There are a lot of different designs of weighted vests, so there are a lot of styles to choose from (some better than others for certain body types and men and women). BUT, there are really just two main types of weighted vests - adjustable weighted vests and fixed weighted vests. Which one you choose will be based on your fitness goals and the kind of workout you plan to do while wearing the weighed vest.
Adjustable weighted vests allow you to add or remove weight as necessary. They will have many small pockets on the front and back, which can be filled with the sandbags or flat steel weights that come with the vest when you purchase it. The pockets are designed so the weights sit in the slots or pockets perfectly, as to ensure they are secure when working out.
Adjustable weighted vests are great for those who want to build muscle and strength. The ability to add weight means you can employ the progressive overload principle, allowing you to add more weight when your body adapts to the stress of the current weight you are using.
They are also great for those who want a versatile weighted vest for various kinds of workouts. For example, a 20lb weighted vest might be perfect for push ups, but you want 50lbs for squats. With an adjustable weighted vest, you can adjust the weight depending on the exercise. Again, this is ideal for building muscle mass.
Depending on the type of adjustable weighted vest and how heavy it is, you can even use them for running, as a way to build running power and burn calories at a much higher degree. And, they most definitely are effective for walking and hiking. The ability to adjust the weight will allow you to play around with the right weight based on what kind of cardio you are doing.
Adjustable weighted vest come in various weight ranges. Some can be as light as 4-10 pounds, while others can be as much as 40 to 150 pounds (the latter being a common weight range that military men and firefighters train with).
Examples of sellers:
This adjustable weighted vest by Aduro has 4-10lb, 11-20lb, 20-32lb, and 26-46lb options.
This adjustable weighted vest by Cap has options of up to 40lbs, up to 50lbs, up to 60lbs, up to 80lbs, up to 150lbs.
All in all, there are many sellers to choose from for adjustable vests. But don’t worry, buying one can be made simple if you know how you want it to fit and what size vest you want (which we are going to help you decide below).
Your other option is a fixed weight weighted vest. These weighted vest are one size that can’t can’t be changed.
Fixed weighted vests are most commonly used for cardio training, but they can be used for workouts as well, of course. The advantage of them is there are less moving parts so you can just strap it on and go, AND, they are usually sleeker and smaller in design (they cover less of your body - some don't even look like an actual vest, as they don’t cover your chest and core as much).
If you are not worried about progressive overload or adjusting the weight depending on what exercise or muscle group you are targeting, these are great. In terms of cardio, if you buy, say a 10lb vest, you won’t need to increase that weight for your runs for a long time. Trust us. When you start getting use to the weighted vest you have, just start running faster or walking faster. At some point, you can buy the next size up.
All in all, the benefits we’ve discussed earlier apply to both types of weighted vests.
However, we will go over the pros and cons of both shortly.
Fixed Weighted Vests usually range from 4 or 10lbs to 30 or 40lbs. Most runners start with around 10lbs.
This is a fixed weighted vest from Aduro which comes in 4, 6, 12, 16, 20, 25, and 30lbs.
This is a fixed weighted vest from Empower that comes in either 8 or 16 pounds.
If you are looking for a compact weighted vest that fits securely when running, jogging or hiking, a fixed weight weighted vest is a good option.
If you want a weighted vest geared more towards building muscle and strength, then an adjustable weighted vest is the best option. They can be a little less comfortable to wear for prolonged periods of time, but they can be used for cardio too.
We personally prefer the adjustable weighted vests as they are more versatile. However, we place more emphasis on our resistance training than we do cardio (of course we do both), so we find a lot more use of the adjustable weighted vests
Note: If you do go for the adjustable weighted vest, buy the shorter ones that don’t cover the full torso. You may get a lower weight range, but you get more freedom of movement. With the full-body torso adjustable weighted vests, you will notice it limits your mobility and bending capacity on certain exercises. The ones that cover the upper back and chest only don’t have this issue really.
Choosing a weighted vest is actually quite simple. Here are three options based on the type of training you will be doing with your weighted vest:
Here’s a quick summary of everything above…
Now, it’s not all about which type of weighted vest to buy, you also need to think about how heavy you want your weighted vest to be, or what weight range in the case of adjustable weighted vests.
When choosing a weight or weight range, it is important to look at this with a long term perspective. You want a weighted vest that challenges you for a longer time to get the best bang for your buck. So, if you get a weight that is challenging for you now, but not too challenging, you will quickly find that you need a heavier weight. As humans, our bodies adapt quickly.
With that in mind, you also really need to consider your current fitness level and how strong you are.
The following recommendations are a good basis.
For cardio training, as well as conditioning, you want a weighted vest that is about 10% of your bodyweight - (The famous CrossFit MURPH workout is done with a 20lb vest).
For bodyweight workouts (resistance training for building muscle and strength), you will want an adjustable weighted vest that you can grow into, meaning that you aren’t going to max out the weight within a couple months. A weighted vest should last you a long time if you care for it well. So, we recommend that you get one that has a max capacity of around 30-50% of your bodyweight (or more for those who are used to lifting heavy). This will allow you to adjust the weight according to the type of exercise you are doing and you can have something to work towards in terms of progression.
Now, if you feel you want more or less than what’s recommended above, that’s perfectly fine.
The average adjustable weighted vest for men is usually around 30-60lbs, and for women it is about 10-30lbs. That said, everyone is different and has different wants and needs.
The average fixed weight weighted vest is around 10% of the users bodyweight.
The best advice we can give you is to not underestimate yourself, especially when buying an adjustable weighted vest as you can simply start at the lower weight and if even that is challenging, you will quickly get used to it. Remember, to build muscle and strength, you need to employ progressive overload, and one big aspect of progressive overload is increasing weight (you also have increasing intensity, reps, sets, volume, and so on).
Remember this is all relative to your strength and fitness level.
While all the above info is necessary when choosing a weighted vest, you also need to know what to look for in a weighted vest, no matter what type of weight vest it is, as you want it to be comfortable and fit you the right way, and you want the material to be high quality. So, on that note, here are some important things to look for when buying a weighted vest.
Consider your body type:
Weighted vests have different designs. Some are better for people with wider and broader shoulders, while others are made for people who are thinner. As for women, some weighted vests are designed specifically for women’s curves and breasts, with varying sizes. Pay attention to the dimensions and design. This plays into both comfort and range of motion.
For women, you can also get an "X" design weighted vest as they will support the chest nicely and are good for optimal range of motion.
If you are worried about sweating too much, both to the point where it’s too hot to wear the weighted vest or it is going to become super stinky quickly, then look for a weighted vest with more breathability and ventilation. A thinner, breathable weighted vest or a weighted vest that covers less of your torso would be ideal. Look at the description and reviews to find out what material it is made of and if its more breathable. Some weighted vests claim to be smell proof as they use special materials.
Some weighted vests are more compact that others. If you want a weighted vest that allows you to train with complete freedom of movement, get one that is more compact. A thinner weighted vest is great as it allows for the best range of motion and mobility.
This weighted vest from Hyper Wear is a great example, it is breathable and thin! Plus it is made from Cordura fabric (which is a type of waterproof nylon), so it extremely durable and odor resistant!
The Hyper Wear weighted vest is quite expensive, but according to most people it is well worth the price.
The only issue with the above weighted vest and many other compact, thin weighted vests are you are limited in weight (Hyperwear only goes up to about 45lbs for the XL size).
So, if a heavy weighted vest is a must based on the training you plan to do, you need to just do your best to find one that will fit nicely. Generally speaking, the heavier they are, the thicker they are. There’s really not much you can do about that. No pain, no gain. Right?
If you are doing military or firefighter training, for example, the bigger, thicker, heavy duty weighted vests are actually ideal as it prepares you better. Sometimes being uncomfortable is what you want. It prepares you mentally and physically.
Heavy Duty Weighted Vest by Run Max (12LBS-140LBS):
Just like everyone’s fitness goals are different, people’s budgets vary too. If you have the means, it’s worth spending the money to get a high quality weighted vest. Usually the more expensive ones have a good design for mobility and higher weight capacity. Moreover, they are long lasting with materials that are waterproof or odor resistant, so they won’t get smelly and/or they are easy to keep fresh with simple washings.
Here is a very good high quality weighted vest by Wolf Tactical (it is compact because it uses thin weighted plates):
If you are on a tight budget, there are plenty of good options. You just need to read reviews and go with a seller who has a lot of good feedback.
Be sure to check reviews. Go with a seller that has a long history and lots of good feedback. This is why we love shopping on Amazon. Worst case, you should be able to return without any hassle.
Are weighted vest bad for your back?
While weighted vest are safe for healthy individuals, if you have neck or spine problems, we don’t recommend that you wear a weighted vest as it puts pressure on your spine.
Note: Some light weighted vests are actually great for improving posture. Speak with your doctor or physical therapist if you are not sure if weighted vests will be good for you.
Weighted Vest vs Backpack
Some people opt to make their own weighted vest or simply fill up a backpack and use that to workout or run with. We highly recommend buying a weighted vest rather than using a backpack full of weights or making your own weighted vest. Weighted vests have a better load capacity, they are more comfortable, they fit snugger to the body, they don’t move around, and the weight is evenly distributed. In fact, a weighted vest is significantly safer for your spine and neck than a DIY weighted backpack. On top of that, you can find a good quality weighted vest for a very reasonable price.
How to clean a weighted vest?
Weighted vests are easy to care for and you should do so or else many weighted vests will begin to smell pretty damn bad. To clean a weighted vest, just use warm water and soap then let it air dry by hanging it or hang it in front of a big powerful fan.
If you have a bathtub, wash it in the bathtub. You can submerge it and then scrub.
Note: Be sure to remove the weights before you wash it!
Does a weighted vest build muscle?
Absolutely. You can build muscle with just your bodyweight alone, so a weighted vest will significantly increase your ability to build muscle. With an adjustable weighted vest, you can even employ progressive overload in the form of increasing weight. This is what you want to do to continue building muscle and strength over the long haul.
If you want to build muscle, make sure you are creating optimal tension and time under tension. Moreover, you need to eat the right diet and give your muscles adequate recovery time.
Can you run with weighted vest?
Absolutely, a lot of weighted vests are made specifically for running. Just look for a nice compact, thin weighted vest that is about 10% of your bodyweight.
Will weighted vest make you faster?
Yes, a weighted vest will make you faster and more explosive if you do plyometric and explosive exercises while wearing a weighted vest on a regular basis. A lot of pro athletes employ this kind of weighted vest training for speed and power.
WEIGHTED VEST CARDIO WORKOUT
Weighted vest cardio workouts are simple, you do the same cardio you’d always do but while wearing a weighted vest!
You can do runs, hikes, or the stairmaster all with a weighted vest.
Push yourself to try to do the same distance you would without a weighted vest, but if its too difficult, shorten the distance and work your way back up and past your normal non-weighted vest cardio routine.
WEIGHTED VEST SPRINTING WORKOUT
For weighted vest sprints, we recommend an adjustable weighted vest. Start with the weighted vest with all the weighted removed from it. See how it feels to sprint with the weighted vest and if it shifts around, you may need to tighten it or adjust so it fits snugly around your shirt.
From there, slowly start to add weight. For the first sprint training session, just add 3 pounds. Try to maintain your normal sprinting speed and reps with the additional three pounds.
You can keep this weight for a couple/few weeks, then add another 2-3 pounds. Always go up in small increments, no more than 3 pounds (less is ok).
WEIGHTED VEST HOME WORKOUT
These two workouts are good for strength and conditioning, as well as hypertrophy.
Fixed weight weighted vest sample workout:
Push Ups x 10 reps
Air Squats x 20 reps
Inverted Row x 10 reps
Pike Push Ups x 10 reps
Plank Alt. Shoulder Taps x 20 seconds
- Repeat for 3-4 rounds.
Box jumps x 8 reps x 3 sets
Adjust reps to make it harder or easier.
Adjustable Weighted Vest sample muscle:
Bulgarian Split Squats - 3 sets x 10 reps each side
Decline Push Ups - 3 sets x 15 reps
Good Mornings - 3 sets x 12 reps
Pull Ups - 3 sets x 8 reps
Mountain Climbers - 3 sets x 20 seconds
Adjust weight load for each exercise (i.e. heavier for lower body exercises)
Adjust reps to make it harder or easier.
Finisher - 3 rounds (use a light load - only rest if absolutely needed, try to finish all three rounds without any rest if you can):
WHERE TO BUY A WEIGHTED VEST?
Buy weighted vests on Amazon! You can return it for your money back if you are unhappy with the weighted vest. Can’t beat that.
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