What are the Different Types of Exercise Equipment?

Some people use free weights.
An anatomical illustration showing many muscles in the upper body.
An exercise ball is a popular form of exercise equipment.
Using a variety of cardio machines at the gym can help you exercise effectively.
Advanced weight-lifters often use heavy duty barbell equipment.
Exercise bands stretch -- like giant rubber bands -- to provide resistance when used for working out.
Free weights, including dumbbells, can be used to build strength and muscle mass.
Barbells are not considered as safe as weight machines.
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  • Written By: Niki Foster
  • Edited By: L. S. Wynn
  • Last Modified Date: 11 December 2014
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Exercise equipment falls into two categories based on the type of exercise provided: cardio or strength training. Both types of exercise, along with stretching, are essential to a balanced and effective fitness regimen.

Cardiovascular, or cardio, exercise helps to increase heart health and burn fat by raising the heart rate. Cardio exercise equipment includes stationary bikes, treadmills, elliptical trainers, and stair climbers. Most cardio equipment of this type at a typical gym includes a display screen which tracks your heart rate and provides options for customizing your workout. Other information about your workout, such as the amount of miles (or kilometers) you have traveled and your total calories burned, may also be displayed. Regularly varying the type of cardio machine you use will help you to exercise more effectively.

Exercise equipment for strength training is more varied. Free weights, weight machines, and balancing or resistance equipment can all be used for strength training. Weight training helps to build muscular strength and helps to maintain the results of cardio exercise.

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Free weights come in many different shapes, sizes, and weights. Round weights may be used on their own or placed on the end of barbells. Small handheld barbells and medicine balls are other options. Many people prefer free weights to weight machines because you must use muscles throughout your entire body to maintain balance as you lift them. However, weight machines are safer and easier to use than free weights and may allow you to lift greater amounts.

Weight machines have a stack of incremental weights attached to a pulley which you can lift by pulling or pushing other parts of the machine. This type of equipment is more user-friendly than free weights, as there is often a clear illustration of correct use posted on each machine. You can use a pin to select the amount of weight you want to lift and adjust the machine to accommodate your body type.

Some strength training exercise equipment does not include weights, but allows you to use your body weight for resistance. Chin up bars, which work the biceps and triceps, and crunch machines, which work the abdominals, are examples of this type of exercise equipment.

Resistance and balance exercise equipment can also be effective for strength training. This type of exercise equipment can be used on its own or in combination with free weights. Doing crunches on an inflatable exercise ball or lunges on an inflatable pad work muscles all over your body by forcing you to keep your balance as you complete strength building exercises. Resistance equipment such as elastic bands can build muscular strength without the use of weights.

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anon217743
Post 8

Thanks for the info! I'm a personal trainer but I know that it's hard for people just starting out to understand the different types of equipment and what to use and how often. Another type you didn't mention is hydraulic exercise. It's a form of cardio + strength training so it's good to save time, plus it's safer than most other forms.

@Jiggs: I recommend you try to find a local gym or maybe a rec. center with the Fluid Interval Training workout. I think you can visit their website for more info. It's great for seniors.

anon210008
Post 7

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anon160428
Post 6

Love the explanations; however, this neophyte needs pictures or visuals, possibly even audio for all of this stuff to register! Right now, comprehension is at approximately 80 percent. Still, when one is embarking on a home fitness regimen, one needs to be at 100 percent in order to save time (exercises which have the same function), money (buying unnecessary equipment, such as that which does the same thing as equipment one already owns), and space (while foldables are good, I'd risk eliminating furniture to get the most effective), and, most importantly, to spare oneself the physical pain or temporary -- or worse -- permanent -- damage resulting from using the wrong equipment, overusing the right one, or misusing any (I keep having nightmares of dropping one of those heavy weight plates on my foot!

Another recurrent nightmare is of having the barbells crush my chest as I lie there helplessly while the life drains out of me.)

I don't just want to read about what I need; I want to see what I need as well so that I can immerse myself into this program after having done my homework. Thank you. You've help me to get more than three-quarters of the way. Now I need to find a source that will deliver the other 25 percent. Good deal!

anon142201
Post 5

Nice overview of types of exercise equipment. I'm glad that you had mentioned about body weight exercises. They seem to be so overlooked. Body weight exercises can be come more challenging with a jungle gym, suspension trainer, and a weight vest. Keep up the great work.

anon84714
Post 4

Response to jiggs: As a student of a branch of health science that deals specifically with exercise, I can without a doubt say that you need to talk to your doctor before you do anything. From there, ask to be referred to an exercise physiologist.

anon41903
Post 3

hi there. i weigh almost more then 125 kg. can you please suggest which of the equipment will be most effective for cardio excersies at home, to reduce weight? treadmill, stationery bike, or anything else. regards, tahir

jiggs
Post 2

I am 80 years old and have never done any exercises. I find now, that my legs are a little weak and I am short of breath. Can you advise me as to what machines I can use to better my condition?

somerset
Post 1

I have found elastic bands very helpful, especially when traveling. Because they are light weight and take very little space in the luggage, they come in very handy when other equipment is not so readily available. Not only do they help with stretching, but they also help to tone muscles.

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