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Free weights are weighted devices such as barbells or dumbbells that can be used to improve fitness, muscle tone, and strength level. Some people prefer free weight exercises to machines or other forms of strength training because they are easily customizable and can help improve posture and balance when used correctly. There are hundreds of different types of exercises with free weights that can be used to target specific muscle groups. Many fitness experts suggest performing at least one exercise for each muscle group to get a total body workout.
Free weight exercises for the upper body target the biceps, triceps, deltoids, chest, and shoulder muscles. Many free weight exercises for arms combine two or more of these muscle groups. It may help to plan an exercise routine in advance to ensure that all muscles are worked adequately and none are overworked.
One great exercise that works the arm and shoulder muscles is called the weight circle. Holding a light dumbbell in each hand, extend arms at shoulder height directly in front of the body, then slowly circle both arms in an outward pattern until the arms extend straight to the sides. Switch the direction of the circles and slowly circle both arms back to the starting position. Circles should be kept small and elbows should be slightly bent to prevent over extension.
The abs, hips and glutes are more often worked with exercises like sit-ups or crunches, but some free weight exercises can be very beneficial to this area as well. To do a medicine ball twist, first sit on the floor and tuck knees to chest while sitting, then extend legs slightly and hold both torso and legs off the ground. Grab a weighted medicine ball and twist torso from side to side, making sure to twist from the waist and not just the shoulders.
For toning the legs and thighs, few exercises are better than a one-legged dead lift. Standing straight with a relatively heavy free weight in each hand, step one foot back and bend at the hips. Lift the back leg up while letting the weights lead the upper body toward the ground. At the bottom of the movement, head, hips, and leg should all form one straight line.
There are hundreds of free weight exercises that can be incorporated into a workout routine, but the key to all of them is correct posture and performance. Many gyms offer a personal training session for free when joining, so be sure to ask for guidance on exactly how to perform each of the free weight exercises demonstrated. Try practicing free weight moves in front of a full length mirror to ensure posture and correct balance of weight.
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