Home Gyms: Universal vs. Free Weights

by Bitley Shawn
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The two most common types of home gyms are universal and free weight home gyms.

Universal home gyms can be used to exercise every muscle group in the body, while free weight home gyms are usually less versatile. Universal home gyms on the average are more expensive and take up more space than free weight home gyms. Both universal and free weight models can be the best depending on what the consumer is looking for.

For a household whose members have different fitness goals, a universal home gym is probably the best buy. There are two main types of universal gyms, those that have a weight stack built in, and those that use an alternative form of resistance. The alternative to weights can be long, flexible bows, industrial strength rubber bands, or cables. Both forms of resistance are designed to flow smoothly and help the user avoid any unnatural strain. Care should be taken to ensure that universal home gyms are used properly and the user is not jerking or yanking on the equipment. Improper use could lead to pulled muscles and painful strains.

Both types of universal home gyms have their advantages.

Those with weight stacks are often seen as more durable. They are along the lines of what is found in a public gym; however, home gyms with built in weight stacks are also among the most expensive on the market. Prices range from around $800 on the low end to well over $2,500 for a top quality machine. The disadvantages to these home gyms, besides the price, are that they are large, heavy, and immobile.

Universal home gyms that use alternative forms of resistance are less expensive than those with weight stacks. The Weider Crossbow, for example, costs around $500. Home gyms of this type are smaller and lighter than systems with weight stacks. Some alternative resistance home gyms can be compacted to fit in a closet.

Free weight home gyms include some of the best home gyms on the market. They are less expensive, take up less space, and are more traditional than universal home gyms.

A free weight home gym can be very useful for strength and endurance building exercises.

There are three main types of free weight home gyms: the weight bench, the power rack and the power cage. One thing that all of these home gyms have in common is that the buyer has to purchase the weights separately. Some people buy more than one type of free weight home gym in order to have more versatile workout options.

A weight bench home gym consists of an adjustable bench, collars, a long metal bar, some dumbbells, a rack, and weights. The user puts the weights on either the bar or dumbbells and secures them with the collars. The bench can be adjusted depending on the type of exercise the user wants to do. A full weight bench home gym can range from a few hundred dollars to over a thousand.

A power rack is a tall structure with a long metal bar and various heights where the bar can be placed. Power racks are good for strength exercises such as squats and lateral lifts. Power racks cost in the range of $500 to $1,000.

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