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About Free Weight Workouts

written by: Timothysexton • edited by: Angela Atkinson • updated: 10/27/2010

A free weight program is weight lifting program that uses those weights attached to small and large bars rather than some kind of resistance machine. Some fitness trainers insist that it is only a free weight program that can give you those ripped and bulging muscles everyone wants.

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    What's the Point of Free Weights?

    The point of a free weight workout program is exactly what you might think. The use of free weights is designed to increase muscle mass quickly. While resistance machines are certainly capable of increasing muscle mass as well, most weight training experts do agree that in order to get the kind of bulging muscles that most people turn to a weight program for has to include some degree of free weight training, if not necessarily exclusively free weights.

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    What Kind of Free Weights are There

    There are several types of free weights, typically recognized by names such as dumbbell and barbell. A dumbbell is the smaller type of free weight that can be held in just one hand. The barbell, on the other hand, must be held in two hands.

    The old-fashioned style of free weights that allow as much or as little weight as a person wants to be attached are still the most popular, but if you have the money to spend on a high-end free weight system you can substantially cut down on your workout time by buying dumbbells and barbells that come in a range of pre-existing weights that cannot be adjusted.

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    What are the Benefits of Using Free Weights?

    There are many benefits to engaging in a free weight workout program, including the way in which these weights provide greater bulk more quickly than resistance machines. The most obvious benefit to using free weights, however, would be convenience and price.

    Compared to some of the more expensive and elaborate weight machines, free weights are almost cheap. Even just a lower level weight machine is going to cost over $150, whereas enough free weights to get the job done, along with a serviceable bench, can often be found used for less than $50 at a yard sale.

    The fact is that many people who start a free weight workout give up eventually and look to unload their equipment at a bargain price. Another benefit to free weights is that they don't take up much space and far more portable than weight machines, meaning you can take your workout with you on vacation.

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    How Long Should I Work Out Using Free Weights?

    The ideal free weight workout program means a workout of just three days a week, although four days a week is acceptable if you decide to focus on upper body one day and lower body the next. A three-day workout means doing weight work for both upper and body on each day.

    How long should each workout take? Somebody just starting a workout program with free weights can get done in as little as ten to fifteen minutes.

    By the time you work up to peak conditioning, the time it takes to do the work should fall between thirty minutes and forty-five minutes. Any workout over sixty minutes is working on the principle of diminishing returns because the average body simply will have used up any nutrients it takes to receive the benefit of a weight program by that point.

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    What are the Disadvantages of Using Free Weights?

    The primary disadvantage that free weights have in comparison to a weight machine is that they don't offer as much support. A machine allows you to exercise your biceps, for instance, with support against your back as you remain in a sitting position. Using free weights removes this support and provides the potential for injury if you do not use correct form.

    For this reason, it is very easy to injure yourself through the hyper-extension of a limb or using too much weight. It is possible to use too much weight on a machine, of course, but the resistance offer usually makes it less easy to lift so much weight that you cannot easily return the weight to its original position.

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    What Should I Consider Before Undertaking a Free Weight Workout?

    One major consideration that must be made is that when a weight machine is used it becomes fairly easy to determine how the weights are to be used to exercise specific muscles. If you pick up a dumbbell, by contrast, there are so many different ways to use it that confusion can easily set in.

    Before investing in free weights and beginning a workout, it is highly recommended that you consult with a fitness expert either in person or online to establish a regimen of specific exercises to meet your own particular weightlifting goals.