So what are the best weight training exercises and equipment to use in your workout program?
Well…it depends. It depends upon all sorts of considerations.
There’s no single cookie cutter weight training program or list of “best” exercise equipment that’s going to be a perfect match for all people in all situations.
Thus we all need to select weight training exercises and workout equipment which work best for us on an individual basis.
I truly can’t overemphasize enough the importance of individualizing one’s weight training program and selection of exercise equipment. Because what works best for one person may work terribly for another.
Thus we must avoid making silly and overly dogmatic statements about “such and such exercises and equipment” supposedly being the “best” for all people in all situations.
After all, it doesn’t take a rocket scientist level of intellect to understand that what works best for a 25 year old world class athlete, in terms of exercise selection and weight training equipment, perhaps will NOT work so well for a 75 year old female with brittle bones, and a very poor sense of balance, right?
25 year old world class athletes (Especially those who are “built right” for all sorts of weight training exercises) will be highly proficient at most any exercise, with most any form of exercise equipment you can throw at them. Thus, they’ll have a very large exercise and equipment “toolbox” at their disposal, chock-full of all sorts of exercise and equipment options. They’ll be able to do barbell deadlifts, barbell back squats, one leg Romanian deadlifts, and other weight training exercises best reserved for younger, more athletic trainees.
Whereas frail, elderly trainees with poor balance and coordination will likely end up severely injured, if they attempt to use the same exercise and equipment toolbox used by athletic, young athletes.
And heck, even if one isn’t frail or elderly, MANY of us are simply NOT built for certain exercises, due to unfavorable limb and/or torso lengths. Or due to medical/injury reasons.
For instance, ever see a really tall and long legged person try to do a barbell back squat? It ain’t pretty, that’s for sure. The knee ends up travelling much further forward than on a short person, thus greatly increasing stress on the knee.
Barbell back squats are a great exercise for some, but unsafe for many others!
And so, even though many weight training enthusiasts dogmatically assert that one “must” do barbell back squats, lest they be considered a wimp, barbell back squats are actually NOT a good exercise selection for MANY people. Anyone who says otherwise is very mistaken.
I’d even argue that it is a minority of people who can safely execute barbell back squats without excessive knee or low back stress entering into the equation.
Though most folks can indeed still squat safely, when using a lever squat machine which allows for a more low back and knee friendly trajectory when squatting, as well as a safer distribution of the weight, more in line with your body’s center, which really helps minimize excess torque on the low back. And the Frank Zane Leg Blaster (Yes, that Frank Zane. As in 3-time Mr. Olympia winner.), which I currently use in my personal training studio, is yet another safer alternative to free weight barbell back squats for many of us.
But anyways…I didn’t mean to get off on a tangent about barbell back squats specifically, but wanted to use that as just one example, of many others I could cite, where certain exercises that are often portrayed as “the best” or even outright mandatory, are simply NOT good exercises for MANY people for MANY reasons. That’s an indisputable fact.
And avoiding exercises which are potentially dangerous for YOU to perform does NOT make you a wimp or outcast within the weight training community. It makes you smart.
Training Safety Comes First!
Of course proper exercise technique and training safety should always be at the forefront of your thinking when determining which weight training exercises and equipment are going to be the best possible match for you. Avoiding injury should never be treated as an after-thought, but rather as being foundational to your weight training program.
And one of the most important ways to to ensure your weight training program doesn’t get you hurt is to select exercises and equipment which are easy for YOU to utilize properly, with excellent exercise technique, and without getting yourself injured. NOT easy on the muscles of course, but rather “easy” in terms of being able to do correctly and with safe exercise technique.
Again, the exact exercises and equipment which will best allow you to utilize good exercise technique, train without injury, and achieve your body transformation goals, will depend upon numerous variables.
Things to Consider When Selecting Exercises & Equipment
- Your current physical condition
- Workout history or lack thereof
- Body transformation goals
- Medical history
- Injury history
- Limb lengths
- Torso length
- How your muscles are innervated
- Budget considerations
- Time available for weight training
- Space available for equipment
- Access to decent gyms
- Whether you prefer gym or home workouts
- Access to personal trainer or coaching
- Sense of balance
- Intramuscular coordination ability
- Etc., etc.
As you can see, exactly how large and full your “exercise toolbox” is (or isn’t) depends upon all sorts of variables, all of which interact with each other to determine which exercises are going to work best for you, and which one’s likely won’t work so well for you.
Again, there’s no single exercise program that’s going to be “best” for all people in all situations. And there’s no single list of “the best exercise equipment” that’s going to apply to everyone either.
Your personal exercise toolbox will likely be somewhat different than other people’s exercise toolbox. Especially if you’re a total beginner or working around injuries. But as time goes on, and you master the exercises and equipment in your personal exercise toolbox, you’ll likely find yourself gradually adding in new exercises and equipment, which you’d previously not felt totally proficient at using before.
But always make sure you stick with weight training exercises and equipment which seem to mesh well with YOUR body and abilities. Don’t worry about what other people are doing in their weight training programs. Become a student of the art of weight training, and learn what works best for YOU.
Train safe, train smart!