Dumbbells are the most commonly used type of free weights. Because of their small size, they're easily used in the home. At the gym, there's usually an entire section devoted to them. Dumbbells vary in weight from 1 pound to more than 100 pounds. Each muscle group requires a different weight to tone. The weight you choose depends on the result you are looking for. Using lighter dumbbells and more repetitions will tone the muscle mass you have, while heavier dumbbells with less repetitions will build more muscle.
Resistance Machines and Bands
Resistance training is more structured than free-weight lifting because the machine sets you up for form success. The weights are hooked to a pulley system, which moves as you push or pull the machine. Resistance machines allow for a wide range of exercises that together end up working all muscle groups. Resistance bands, stretchy bands with handles on the ends, are an inexpensive alternative to resistance machines that can accomplish similar results.
Medicine balls, weighted balls of various sizes, use both weight and momentum to shock your muscles. In real-life situations you are often in motion when a situation requires strength; medicine ball training helps prepare your muscles to respond to real-world demands.
Barbells can be used for any number of exercises, including with the bench press and for squats. The bench press uses weights on either end of a bar to enhance an upper body workout. With a bench press you push the bar and weights up using your chest muscles as you lie on your back on an even bench. It is an effective type of exercise, but typically causes more injury than other types of weight training. To do squats with a barbell, you place the bar across the back of your shoulders and, while keeping your upper body stiff, bend your knees slowly, then slowly stand back up.