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Incorporating free weight workouts into your fitness routine is a simple way to develop muscle and melt fat off your body. Graduating from standard gym equipment to free weights is a must if you want to push your body to the next level. Typical machines at the gym focus on one single movement, and usually require no balance as the machine takes care of it. Lifting a free weight, or dumbbell, requires our body to focus on proper form and doesn’t offer the luxury of pushing harder from one side. In fact, lifting free weights is a great way to correct  muscle imbalances as each side of the body is forced to output the same amount of strength to complete the lifting exercise. I’ve included some simple free weight exercises below for you to try out and review.

Free Weight Workouts

Workout #1

Complete each exercise with 4 sets of 8-10 reps. Lift as heavy as you can while still completing the allotted reps and sets.

  • Bench Press
  • Incline Bench Press
  • Shoulder Press
  • Push Ups/Inverted Row
  • Front/Lateral/Rear Delt Raises
  • Dips
  • Skull Crushers/Tricep Extensions

Workout #2 (focus on legs)

Complete each exercise by doing 3 sets of 50 reps with light free weights.

  • Squat
  • Glute Ham Bridge (place weights on pelvis for added resistance)
  • Single Leg Squats (25 per leg x 3 sets)
  • Windmill lunge
  • Curtsy Lunge
  • Step Ups (25 per leg x 3 sets)
  • Weighted Seated Calf Raise
  • Wall Sit for 60 seconds (hold free weights in hands)

Workout #3

Spend one minute on each of the following exercises. Complete entire circuit 3 times, with as little rest as possible between exercises.

  • Pistol Squat
  • Hamstring Curls
  • Chest Press
  • Pull-Ups
  • Bicep Curls
  • Arnold Shoulder Press
  • Abs Circuit – Leg Raises, Side Plank, Leg Climbers

Free Weight Workouts Can Strengthen Your Core

Having to stabilize your body while exercising can be a workout in itself. Your core and legs, when properly engaged, can provide the solid foundation to a free weight lifting routine. During every rep with your free weights, think about which part of your core should be contracted and released throughout the exercise. Throughout each lift, proper form is key in accomplishing a safe, efficient workout. If you are struggling with your form, it may be time to head back to the machines to regain the proper technique and reduce your chance of injury. At the end of the day, why only focus on one muscle group at a time, when quite easily you can achieve a full body workout by always activating your core throughout.

Pros and Cons

Like all forms of exercise, there are positive and negative aspects that everyone should be aware of prior to diving into a new workout routine. Here are some key benefits and a few things to consider when doing free weight workouts.

Pros

  • Free weights promote functional training by utilizing more natural body movements. Picking up the groceries, carrying your kids or lifting heavy objects in the workplace are all normal everyday activities that will benefit from a solid free weight workout routine.
  • Strengthens not only the muscle you are focused on, but also the stabilizer muscles surrounding
  • Your workout is portable. Have you ever tried putting a leg press machine into the truck of a Honda Civic? A few sets of free weights may be a touch easier.

Cons

  • Without the help of a personal trainer, some people may find themselves lost standing in front of the rack of free weights.
  • Risk of injury. Without proper form or the backup support that a machine can offer, risk of injury increases as you rely solely on your body to follow the movement, rather and pushing or pulling a machine.

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