Strength Gains- Utilizing free weights to decrease imbalances will allow our weaker side to get stronger. Beyond that, free weight exercises require more control and balance. This means that more muscles are recruited to stabilize the weight which ultimately leads to more gains.
Injury Prevention- Free weight exercises are great at strengthening the body’s stabilizing muscles. These muscles play an important role in keeping your joints in place as well as supporting your body, so keeping them strong is a great way to prevent injuries.
Promotes Functional Fitness- The term functional fitness refers to exercises that have applications for everyday life activities. For example, doing exercises where you lift weights off the ground trains your body for similar movements. Performing activities like picking up a laundry basket or child becomes easier because your body is conditioned for it. Free weight exercises tend to have more real-life applications. Outside of the gym, most of the weight we lift is “free”, meaning our body needs to have strong stabilizing muscles to support the activity.
Free Weight Exercises
Free weights are ideal for working slow, controlled movements. Emily Schromm suggests incorporating exercises like dumbbell snatches, Turkish get ups, and windmills to get some of the benefits of free weights. Don’t stop there, free weights can be used to target any muscle group you want to work.
Free Weights vs Machines
Both free weight exercises and machines have their pros and cons. Weight machines can be useful for beginners for teaching proper form. Plus, weight machines can allow for higher weight volumes to be achieved. With any training routine, it’s about balance. You don’t need to go all in with free weights to take advantage of the benefits, just try incorporating some free weight training to your routine!
5 Benefits of Dumbbell Training
Most health clubs and gyms offer rows of cardio equipment, aisles of weight-training machines, stacks of free weights and specific stretch areas to help members pursue their individual goals. When it comes to fitness equipment, there is no one “best” piece of equipment. Different types of equipment are purposefully designed to achieve specific fitness outcomes.
For those with goals related to strength training, there are countless options for increasing lean muscle or adding strength. Choices include the traditional weight machines, barbells or dumbbells, as well as a wide variety of specialized equipment such as kettlebells, medicine balls, sandbags and even oversized tires. Some forms of resistance training equipment, such as barbells, are more effective for developing max strength, while weight-training machines can help increase muscle definition and lighter forms of resistance such as medicine balls and kettlebells can be useful for improving movement-specific power output. Dumbbells are often used for joint-isolation exercises such as biceps curls, chest flyes or shoulder raises. Using dumbbells for full-body, multiplanar movements, however, can provide a variety of different strength outcomes. It also offers many benefits for cardiorespiratory fitness and flexibility. To help you select the best equipment for your needs, here are five benefits of dumbbells:
Dumbbells can provide the two types of overload that lead to muscle growth: mechanic and metabolic. Mechanic overload is the result of damaged caused by muscle contractions, which stimulates the repair process and leads to an increase in muscle size. Metabolic overload occurs when a muscle is worked to fatigue, which leads to the adaptation of muscle cells being able to store more glycogen which can cause muscles to increase in size. Heavy dumbbells can generate mechanical overload, while moderate-weight dumbbells combined with high reps (to fatigue) can produce metabolic overload.
Dumbbell exercises can create both inter- and intramuscular coordination, leading to greater levels of muscle activation. Intermuscular coordination is the ability of a number of different muscles to work together to produce and stabilize joint motion. Intramuscular coordination is the amount of muscle motor units and their attached muscle fibers that are activated within a specific muscle. Using lighter dumbbells for compound, multijoint or multiplanar movement patterns improves coordination between different body segments. Using heavier dumbbells can increase the number of muscle fibers activated within a specific muscle.
Dumbbells can benefit both the contractile element and elastic component of muscle tissue. The contractile element is the specific actin-myosin muscle proteins responsible for sliding across one another to create concentric shortening actions or control eccentric lengthening. The elastic component is the fascia and connective tissue that attaches each individual muscle fiber and groups of fibers to one another. The elastic component stores mechanic energy as it is lengthened, which is then released during a rapid muscle-shortening action. Traditional exercises with heavy dumbbells can increase the force production capacity of the contractile element, while multiplanar movement patterns with light dumbbells can enhance the resiliency and strength of the elastic component.
Dumbbells can be used for a variety of exercises. Machines allow one motion in one specific movement pattern to place load on one muscle or muscle group. Due to their length, standard barbells are best used for compound movements in one specific plane of motion. Due to their size and the fact they can be held in each hand, dumbbells can be used to create a variety of different movement patterns to develop task- or movement-specific strength.