Types Of Weight To Build Strength And Muscle: Barbells, Dumbbells, Machines And Bodyweight

By | May 26, 2014

Weights To Build Muscle In Gym
If you’re looking to start building muscle and become stronger, one of the important things you need to do is lift heavy things. But it’s not just lifting any heavy things. To build muscle, you need to lift the right types of weight in the right way. Lifting weights in a specific way to impact the muscle is called weight training when using weight equipment and bodyweight training when using your body’s weight.

The type of weights most commonly used in muscle building programs are categorized as Free Weights (Barbells and Dumbbells) Machines and Bodyweight. Each one of these has different impact on muscle and strength, mainly due to the type of exercises you are able to do with them and the impact the type of training has on the muscle.

The effectiveness of a workout program is dependent a lot on the structure of it’s reps, sets and exercises. But without the use of the best available physical tools, you will only waste your time when you execute a workout program.

If you want to gain muscle and strength at the fastest rate possible, you will need to use the right tools that will enable you to do the best possible exercises and create maximum resistance to the muscle. But since everyone have different goals and faced with different circumstances, it’s important to know all of your options when it comes to tools for working out. By becoming more informed about each category of weights used for building muscle you can plan your approach as it suits you best.

Which Category Of Weights Are Best For Building Muscle?

Muscle building exercises can be performed with Barbells, Dumbbells, Machines And Bodyweight. Each type of weight provides resistance which builds strength and muscle when used in a training program. But when it comes to building muscle fast and effectively, free weights are the best. Barbells and dumbbells are known as free weights. They allow you to perform the most effective muscle building exercises, target all muscle groups and stimulate the most growth in muscle fibres.

Machines and body weights can also be used to train for strength and muscle, and they have their specific advantages. But they have certain limitations when it comes to getting stronger and adding mass effectively. They are not as dynamic like free weights for building muscle. You may notice that the bulk of most muscle building programs make use of barbells and dumbbells. But many of these programs would have some exercises included that require the use of weight machines and body weights as well.

It’s possible also to find a few programs such as this calisthenics program that utilize only bodyweight exercises like pull-ups and push-ups to strength train. Let’s now learn about each type of weight in more details.


A dumbbell is a short bar with a weight at each end that has enough space in between to grip with only one hand. It can be used individually or in pairs (one in each hand) to perform a number of different weight training exercises. You can use dumbbell exercises to target and build up each muscle group in the body. However, some compound exercises that work multiple muscle groups such as the deadlift and squats are done optimally with barbells.

Weightlifting With Dumbbells

There are currently three main types of dumbbell: fixed-weight dumbbell, adjustable dumbbell, and selectorized dumbbell. Different types of dumbbells provide different benefits. For example if you want to workout at home, buying a set of adjustable dumbbells will make doing that affordable and convenient. While fixed-Weight dumbbells may take up a lot more space in your home, but their distinct advantage is they have greater durability. Most commercial gyms may have a variety of dumbbells to choose from, but if you are going to buy dumbbells for your home workouts you can choose a brand and type based on your needs, preferences and budget.


A Barbell is a steel bar measuring 4–7 feet in length. Like dumbbells, some barbells have a fixed amount of weight on each side, while other barbells allow you to add and remove weight as you desire. The weights placed on the sides of a barbell are called weight plates. Both bars and weight plates come in different types, sizes, brands and designs.

Barbell Training To Build Muscle
Barbells can be used to perform a great number of weight training exercises for building muscle. They are ideal for doing compound exercises such as bench pressing and squats. A barbell set is also a good, affordable piece of weight training equipment that you can use to workout at home.

Weight Machines

A weight training machine is a machine with variable resistance that allows you to train for strength and muscle. Dumbbells and barbells are called free weights because they are free or untethered. A weight machine is different, whereby the weight stack is connected by cables to cams and pulleys and only move in one direction.

Man Machine Weight Training
Although they have some disadvantages when compared to free weights for building muscle, machines also have some benefits for muscle and strength training. There are different types of weight machines for different uses. If you look around a gym you may see different weight machines, and you’ll also see exercisers using them to perform different weight training exercises.

Common weight training machines include the Smith Machine which is really a barbell that is constrained to vertical movement. The Cable Machine consists of two weight stacks separated by 2.5 metres, with cables running through adjustable pulleys (that can be fixed at any height) to various types of handles. There are also exercise-specific weight machines such as the Leg Press. A multi-gym or gym system includes a variety of exercise-specific mechanisms in one apparatus.

Body Weight

Bodyweight exercises are just what they sound like; exercises that use your own body’s weight for resistance. With bodyweight training you need minimal equipment (or none at all), and you can train from anywhere. Different styles of bodyweight exercises allows you to build decent strength and muscle when done correctly.

Man Body Weight Training
The downside to bodyweight exercises is that you will need to strategically modify the exercise’s difficulty in order to ensure you are leveling up and progressing. This requires special skills, patience and dedication. With free weights and machine you can simply progress the workload to build muscle by simply lifting heavier weights (known as progressive overload).

On the other hand, when you start out with the basic form of bodyweight training it requires special techniques and discipline to keep creating the tension or overload necessary to build muscle. Muscle building programs dedicated to bodyweight training such as Bar Brothers System are great resources for people who want to build serious muscle and body weight exercise is their preferred option.


Muscle building training usually requires different types of weight training equipment and tools. Various combinations of specific exercises including machines, dumbbells, barbells and bodyweight allow trainees to exercise body parts in numerous ways. The best option is to combine all the different tools in your training program to build a perfect physique. A membership to a good gym would allow you to get access to all these tools.

However, if you are in a situation where you have access to only one or two of these types of weights, you will still be able to make progress by learning how to utilize them maximally.

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