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With the cyclical nature of fitness trends – it seems that we’re moving back to basics – as the newest and hottest trend takes us back to the 1980’s when free weights were king.
If you’ve trained in a gym longer than 10 years – then you’ve watched at least 3 fitness trends come and go.
In fact, every time you walk into a gym and see somebody doing something a little unorthodox – you probably say to yourself, “Oh boy, another fitness trend.”
To be fair – it seems like every year there’s some new “revolutionary” way to get fit…
But guess what?
Sometimes those “new” trends are nothing more than a revisiting of the way things were before.
Just like with fashion…
When it comes to fitness – a lot of the time, everything “old” becomes new again – and that goes DOUBLE for the current trend hitting gyms around the world.
That’s right – the latest trend is actually going back to the basics – as free weights are once again becoming all the rage these days!
Who’d have thunk it, right?
But, yes – after years of fancy gadgets, complicated machines, and promises of quick fixes…
People are finally realizing that free weights are the way to go.
Of course, for many of us – this isn’t a trend…
We’ve been doing this for years – but if you were wondering why the weight room or gym seemed a little more crowded… now you know.
Why has everything changed?
What happened to where this “major revelation” happened to make free weights the newest fitness trend?
Well, apparently, the younger generation has learned that free weights allow for more natural movements and are more versatile than machines.
Who knew that lifting actual weights could be more effective than sitting on a fancy contraption and pushing buttons, right?
While we’ve got to deal with more people holding up benches…
This is for the best.
Using free weights requires more skill and technique – meaning we’ll get more educated and experienced lifters in the gym.
Meaning those of us who have mastered the art of not dropping a dumbbell on our foot – are practically pros!
So, if you want to be part of the latest fitness trend – no problem!
Just grab some weights and start squatting, deadlifting, bench pressing, shoulder pressing, and rowing…
Because apparently lifting weights like our caveman ancestors did – is the way to go.
As I said, fitness trends come and go…
And after years of flashy exercise gadgets, complicated machines, and the promise of quick fixes – the rediscovery of classic strength training is really a breath of fresh air.
Why the shift back to the basics?
Because sometimes – going back to the basics can be more effective than trying to keep up with the latest fads.
I mentioned natural movements a few moments ago..
And free weights allow for your body to move how it’s supposed to and adapt by developing stabilization support that leads to greater overall strength and flexibility.
Another advantage of free weights is that they really are more versatile than machines.
With just a few pieces of equipment – a wide range of exercises can be performed that target EVERY major muscle group…
This makes free weights more efficient – and cost-effective – especially those looking to exercise at home or on a budget.
In addition to the advantages mentioned above – there are numerous other benefits to incorporating free weight training into your fitness routine.
Whether you’re a novice or have been lifting for years…
There are TONS of reasons why you should ditch more of the machines and get back to basics.
Here are just a few of the benefits of “going free”…
Increased strength: Free weights are a great way to build functional strength that can be applied to everyday activities.
In the real world – you don’t always get pulleys and levers to help make the work lighter…
Developing functional strength has all kinds of applications – but is also absolutely crucial to survival and longevity.
Improved balance and coordination: Using free weights requires the body to stabilize itself, leading to improved balance and coordination.
This is especially important as we age and start to lose a lot of the stability in our limbs.
Keeping these systems in high function is a huge key to ensuring that you’ll be living a longer and more active life.
Greater muscle activation: Free weights engage more muscle fibers than machines, leading to greater muscle activation and more significant gains in strength and size.
The bottom line is – if you want to get big – you need to work hard…
And nothing makes you work harder than getting under REAL weight and having to push it off of yourself.
The amount of muscles it takes to bench press dumbbells is significantly more than sitting on a chest machine.
More efficient workouts: Because free weight exercises engage multiple muscle groups – they provide a more efficient workout than machines that isolate individual muscles.
This goes hand-in-hand with activation.
You’ll be getting more work in less time using free weights than you will in using individual machines.
Which leads to…
Increased calorie burn: Free weight exercises require more energy to perform than machines – leading to greater calorie burn and increased fat loss.
That’s self explanatory…
More muscles activated means more calories burned – means less fat on your body.
Thanks, free weights!
Now that we understand WHY we should be lifting more free weights…
Which exercises are best?
When it comes to free weights and trends…
There’s even trends as to which exercises are most “popular”.
But let’s throw popularity out of the window…
Let’s talk about “effective”.
So, what are some of the best free weight exercises to include in your workout routine?
Well, the truth is – you can’t beat the classics…
So, let’s take a look at them briefly – just as a quick reminder.
Squats: This compound exercise works the entire lower body – including the glutes, hamstrings, and quads. Squats IS life!
Deadlifts: This exercise targets the hamstrings, glutes, and lower back – making it a great way to build overall strength. As Jon Pall Sigmarsson once said, “There is no reason to be alive if you can’t do deadlift.”
Bench press: A classic upper body exercise that targets the chest, shoulders, and triceps. Meat and potatoes.
Shoulder press: This exercise targets the shoulders and upper back – helping to build strong, toned shoulders… or as we like to call them: “boulders”.
Rows: Rows work the upper back and biceps – helping to improve posture and prevent upper back pain. Plus, who doesn’t want the back of a Viking?
What’s the takeaway?
That change in fitness – as in life – is the only constant.
Even though the method may change – the goal is always to improve yourself.
Free weights ARE the newest fitness trend…
By incorporating classic exercises like squats, deadlifts, bench press, shoulder press, and rows into your routine, you can build functional strength, improve balance and coordination…
Making you a more complete person.
So, whether you’re a seasoned gym-goer or just starting out…
The consensus is clear – keep it simple.
You don’t have to overthink it…
Stick to the basics – and you’ll be just fine.
“Most of us forget the basics and wonder why the specifics don’t work.” – Garrison Wynn