For most, weight training consists of either "free weights" or "machine weights." Almost always the weights store bought and manufactured specifically for the fitness industry.
Free weights are those that move freely around (duh!). Barbells, dumbbells, kettlebells. The bars range in size and shape: straight bar, EZ curl bar, trap bar, or hammer grip bar. Barbells and kettlebells are generally the implements used in functional fitness training.
Machine weights have factory-designed and controlled paths of movement. Examples are a Smith rack, leg extension chair, or any cable-and-pulley system. While generally safer to use, the pre-designed range of motion and isolation of specific muscles is not very natural. These machines are excellent for rehabilitation patients, and weight training beginners. These machines do severely limit the potential gains for the user.
There is another sect within weight training: Odd Object Lifting. It's not only not nearly as popular as the other two forms, it is hard to find someone who does it. And harder for someone who effectively teaches it. OOL has a very committed and creative following. Here are some odd objects or movements we've used:
- sledge hammer swings
- military ammo cans
- heavy punching/MMA bags
- truck/tractor tires
- rocks and boulders
Dan E is our resident Odd Object Lifter. In the above photo, he's doing cleans and overhead presses with a beer keg. No it's not filled! He's drained all the beer and replaced it with water and disinfectant. While the actual weight is not quite known, we've estimated it to be around 55 pounds. Dan is gradually adding more water until it gets up to 75 pounds....so he can use it for the Police Week Memorial Workout in May. Seventy-five pounds turns into a whole different animal: from a nice balanced and easy-to-grip barbell to a cumbersome beer keg with sloshing water inside!!
Another easy way to break into OOL is to start unbalancing your barbell. Try working out with 15# on one side and #25 on the other, but maintaining a symmetrical grip. It changes the game for lifts like DLs or C&Ps. Just be sure to flip around during your workout to maintain muscular balance. Here's a video link to the CF workout Uneven Grace. I started using two kettlebells of differing weights when I didn't have two that matched. I had to make sure I was switching hands mid-workout so one side would not develop differently than the other. Now that I have a lot of equipment that matches, I keep forgetting how taxing those unbalanced workout were! I guess it's time to return.
Weight training is not all about fancy plates and dumbbells. Use your imagination to add realism into your conditioning program. Find something lying around the house or garage...and lift it. Actually, lift it a lot of times.