Strength fitness, Fitness & Training

Weight Training: How to Choose Your Free Weights

In the field of strength training, there are indeed muscle strengthening exercises performed without equipment, but also those with free weights. So how do you use them correctly and which ones should you choose to get your desired results? Discover our advice on how to set up your strength training programme with free weights.

Strength Training: How to Train With Weights

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Enriching one’s muscular strengthening work with free weight exercises has several advantages:

  • During exercises with free weights, the muscle fibres are put to greater use, which stimulates muscle growth and increases overall strength.
  • Working with weights is more intense, thus further activating the cardiovascular system.
  • Adding free weight exercises allows you to diversify your training routine.
  • Lifting weights tests skills such as stamina and balance, for example, increasing the effectiveness of the training. In the long term, working with weights helps you to adopt better posture and strengthen your stabilising muscles.
  • Working with free weights rounds out the muscles, while bodyweight exercises lengthen them, making them 2 complementary techniques to be used according to the results you want to achieve.

Which Loads and Types of Weight Should You Choose to Reach Your Goals?

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Among the free weights on the market, which ones should you choose and how do you use them to achieve your desired results? To increase strength, endurance or develop muscle mass, follow the guide:

  • To start off on the right foot, equip yourself with several free weights of different sizes so that you can modify the load according to your progress: dumbbells, kettlebells, rubber dumbbells (small ones), bars with removable plates… Choose the models according to the exercises you wish to perform.
  • Different materials and finishes are available: ergonomic moulded handle adapted to the shape of the fingers, smooth handle, metal, plastic or rubber weights… Choose according to your preferences and pay attention to the size of the handles.
  • Choose according to your preferences and pay attention to the size of the handles. Use slightly lighter weights if you are a woman and/or if you are a beginner. If you are not sure, opt for a weight kit specially designed for your profile.
  • To get started, begin by exercising with a weight that you can raise and lower at least ten times without feeling too tired.
  • As soon as you feel that the exercise becomes too easy with your weight, move on to the next size up, gradually so as not to skip the steps.

Depending on the objective, you will not necessarily choose the same equipment:

  • To gain strength, increase your workload. Determine your 1 RM, which is the maximum load you can lift in a single movement, and work at about 85% of this load in short sets (less than 10 repetitions, for example).
  • In order to increase your muscle volume, the load should be very regular and progressive. As you are working the body intensely with increasingly heavy loads, allow yourself fairly long pauses between sets. Take care of your diet at the same time and plan a recovery day between each session to give your muscle fibres time to strengthen.
  • To improve your resistance, you can work on longer series (20 to 25 repetitions) with a slightly lower load than in a power or weight training session.

Free Weights: 3 Tips for Building Your Programme

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To set up your personalised training programme with free weights, these 3 tips should help you:

  • Warm up gradually, starting with bodyweight exercises and then with light weights.
  • Find a logical progression:
    • either by performing the same exercise over and over again and increasing the load until you reach your limit point
    • either by varying the type of exercise with a fixed load throughout each series (the load may vary between two exercises)
    • or by adjusting the number of repetitions of the movements
  • Work at a slow pace, making sure you breathe deeply: if you have to hold your breath to lift a weight, try the exercise with a lighter weight. Conversely, a set done too easily may indicate that it’s time to increase the load.

Training with free weights is ideal for rapidly developing strength, improving resistance to effort and increasing muscle volume. Allowing more targeted work than resistance machines and putting more strain on the muscles than bodyweight training, it’s sure to find a place in your fitness routine.

Check out our Fitness & Training page for more advice.