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How do I Choose the Best Bodybuilding Weights?

Dan Cavallari
Dan Cavallari

Several options exist for purchasing bodybuilding weights. The most common weights are free weights, which can attach to a barbell or dumbbell, and they come in two varieties: standard and Olympic. Other bodybuilding weights include weight machines that use pulleys to activate the weight. Choosing the best weights for you depends on how much available space you have in your home and what kind of bodybuilding you will be doing. Consider your budget as well, as some weights can be quite expensive, especially if they are included in a weight machine that uses pulley systems.

The budget-conscious bodybuilder will want to consider standard bodybuilding weights. These free weights differ from Olympic weights in the interface system: Olympic weights feature a larger hole through which a barbell or dumbbell can be slid, thereby allowing the lifter to lift heavier weights. Standard weights feature smaller holes, and the barbells or dumbbell bars used with standard weights cannot handle extremely heavy weights. The casual bodybuilder on a budget can get away with purchasing standard weights and bars, since these will cost less and will suit the needs of the casual lifter. A more serious bodybuilder may want to consider Olympic weights that are more expensive but able to accommodate more intense workouts.

A bodybuilder.
A bodybuilder.

Bodybuilding weights that are integrated into machines with pulley systems work well for the home bodybuilder. These units can take up a fair amount of space, however, so it will be important to measure your available space before purchasing. Choose a weight machine that offers several different options for exercises so you will be able to work your entire body rather than just the chest and arms. These machines tend to be more expensive than free weights, and some bodybuilders avoid such machines because they claim the results are not as easily achieved. These machines keep all the weights together, however, which reduces the likelihood of damage. Be sure to look into any warranty information for each machine you are considering.

Some bodybuilding weights are not meant for use with a barbell or dumbbell bar, but are instead one cast unit of a specific weight. These weights are a good choice because they are durable and easy to use, and there is no chance of losing any accessories such as clips or locks that are used on other systems. You will be limited, however, to the specific weights the manufacturer offers.

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Discussion Comments


I like what the previous poster said about having a big range of weights. But if you cannot buy everything and you need to start making choices between what to buy and what not to buy you will probably want to start with a weight bench and a good Olympic bar.

You can do a huge range of exercises and get a pretty solid full body workout with just this simple equipment. Effective bodybuilding weight training is going to require more than this, but bodybuilding is a long process and you can get a good start with just a weight bench. You can often find a bench, bar and quality weights online used for a cheap price. Start here and see how your body responds.


Being able to build your body up effectively has less to do with having a specific type or brand of weights and more to do with having access to the greatest quantity and variety of weights.

If you are going to make a serious effort at building your body on a competition level you need to spend a lot of time in the gym and do a ton of different exercises. You cannot neglect a single muscle and you have to be very conscious of maintaining symmetry and balance.

You need barbells, dumbbells, kettle bells, medicine balls and a whole host of Nautilus machines. You need it all. So be very conscious of having a big range of weight lifting equipment.

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      By: Mircea Netea
      A bodybuilder.