Welcome back to Game Strength Insider!
Lately I’ve mentioned the major muscle groups you need to hit, along with some of the exercises that will give you the best muscle building results. Once you really dive into your training you’ll figure out that you have a whole lot of choices. Meaning you can perform several of your exercises multiple ways, including:
Dumbbell and Barbell Lifts
These are referred to as “free weight” exercises, since your weights aren’t attached to a machine. Some of your lifts (like squats, deadlifts, bench presses & plenty others) can be completed using either a barbell or a dumbbell.
I personally enjoy dumbbells because they allow me to focus on each side individually and really isolate my muscles. This is especially true when doing biceps curls or flys with dumbbells.
As the name implies, this is where you primarily use your body weight for resistance. You can do some of these exercises when you’re first starting out as a means of getting used to lifting. Bodyweight walking lunges are a favorite. Certain exercises like pull ups, tricep dips and chest dips work well using your bodyweight only… at least when you’re first starting out.
Some people have one side that’s stronger, so they’ll tend to incorporate the stronger muscle more when performing the lift. If this describes you, you may not even be aware that you’re doing it. That’s because you’re so used to doing it on a day to day basis. For example, if you lift a heavy item over your head to put on a high shelf, you’ll naturally use your strongest muscles the most to perform the lift. Or for example if you’re right handed, you’re writing, reaching, pulling, etc with your right hand automatically and may not even notice it.
Point is, you can certainly use your barbells for certain lifts. But you’ll also want to regularly work those muscles separately to really isolate and attack your weak spots. For example, do dumbbell bicep curls, dumbbell bench presses and work your legs separately using lunges or one-leg presses.
If you’re using free weights, stay safe by using a spotter. For certain lifts (like squats and bench presses) you can use a power cage, which “catches” the weight if you drop it. Most gyms will have at least 1 of these.
There are a variety of machines that allow you to lift weights, including various cable and lever machines. But there’s also a machine called the “Smith Machine,” which is basically a barbell that’s guided vertically by rails. The Smith Machine is cool because it allows you to go a bit heavier on bench and squats without a spotter.
I typically only use certain machines like the Smith once in a blue moon because they restrict range of motion. For instance if your natural movement on the bench press is in an arc motion you cannot do this on the Smith machine because you can only go straight up and down.
That being said, should you use the Smith Machine? Yea… if you don’t have a spotter or a power cage. It’s also a mighty fine way for a beginner to start getting his body used to lifting. But generally, you should only use the Smith Machine when you have no other options available to you.
That’ll do it for this time. I look forward to seeing you around the site. Don’t forget to speak your mind in the comments section.
To your fitness!