While there are certainly variations on the theme of the three types of resistance equipment that we are discussing this week, selectorized, plate loaded and free weight equipment are the resistance equipment foundation of a fitness floor. And, each has a specific method of use, provides a wide variety of exercise options and does require some guidance and instruction to operate safely and effectively.
First, let’s review the description of each type of featured equipment. Selectorized equipment has been around for decades and is recognizable because there are weight stacks which are mobilized by the cable and pulley system. You “select” the weight increment, where you need the cable/pulley to be located, which attachment you require and where you will place your body in relationship to the cable/pulley so that your body is in the correct line of pull for each exercise.
Plate-loaded equipment is exactly what it sounds like — the equipment usually has a bar, that is attached to a linear bearing system, like a Smith Machine, or a sled/carriage/pad that needs to be pressed, such as a leg press machine. The equipment or bar itself, has a specific weight and then, once you are able to master lifting/pushing/pulling that external resistance, you may be able to add plates to the equipment increasing your intensity.
Free weight equipment is defined as weights that are “free” and not attached to a piece of equipment. Examples are dumbbells and barbells. And, particularly barbells each have a specific weight increment (i.e. 20 pounds, 45 pounds and so on). Free weight equipment may require more core stability and strength to utilize than the plate-loaded equipment described above because the weight is “free.”
All three types of equipment have significant value. Each providing the user with variety and challenge. Therefore, check out the information below regarding these types of equipment and if you have just been hitting the selectorized equipment, or just using plate loaded or free weight, consider using all of this equipment in a well-designed exercise program. As always, prior to beginning any exercise program, please consult your physician.
Selectorized Equipment: The newer versions of this equipment such as those that Matrix and Hoist manufacture are terrific. There are literally hundreds of exercises that may be performed on this equipment for the entire body. Understanding where to set the cable/pulley to attain the desired outcome is crucial, choosing the best attachment and weight increment, essential.
Plate-Loaded Equipment: Begin with just the bar or sled/carriage/pad weight which can be considerable. For example, our Matrix Leg Press sled alone is 167 pounds! Therefore, adding plates may or may not be necessary. The beauty of plate-loaded equipment is that you choose the amount of additional weight you wish to add from five pounds to hundreds of pounds. There are also many locations from which to rack the bar or sled, providing the user with greater control when fatigued.
Free- Weight Equipment: As mentioned above includes dumbbells and barbells and requires a significant understanding of your body in relationship to gravity in order to safely and effectively utilize. However, there are hundreds of exercises possible with free weight equipment when the user grasps the concepts of free weight training.