Have You Ever Met Weightlifting’s Cousins?

Posted March 29, 2017 in Exercise Equipment No Comments »

4 Examples of Alternative Fitness Equipment

If you try to increase muscle, strength, or conditioning, and you all you use is mainstream weightlifting using set routines day in and day out, you could be setting yourself up for failure in several ways! Do you find yourself scratching your head?

Here are three potential ways in which weightlifting can lead to failure:

  • plateauing – in strength, conditioning, assistance muscles, tendons, and ligaments
  • boredom – lifting day-in and day-out without variation
  • injuries – from max effort with free weights and repetitive paths

alternative fitness equipment - tires

I want to introduce you to traditional weightlifting’s cousins in just a moment. Before I introduce them, I will assure you they are all very viable means to fully developing muscle and also to help you to tone your body by accelerating fats loss as well as giving you a variety of choices to complement your weightlifting program. Without further ado, the cousins to weightlifting are kettlebells, resistance bands, the stability ball, and last but not least, homemade exercise equipment.


he kettlebell is one of the newest fitness items to hit the gym. This piece of equipment has a long history of use as a training tool for both Olympic athletes and military in old Soviet Russia. Many gyms are now incorporating the training into easy to learn exercises at many local gyms around the country.

kettlebellsThe Kettlebell looks like a bowling ball with a handle and comes in weights ranging from about 5 pounds to in excess of 89 pounds. It has several advantages over free weights or weight machines. The kettlebell’s primary use is that of a whole body weight training device. Many of the exercises will work not only your arms and legs, but your back and abs as well. Kettlebell is also good for intensity training as it can be used for fast, high repetition work.

The one drawback of kettlebells, is that you must take the time to learn the moves thoroughly before being able to use them full speed. Certain exercises would be better with free weights as it can be difficult to control the trajectory of the kettlebell. For example, push ups with added weight are better done while holding a set of hand weights rather than than bulky kettlebells. Weights are also better for beginners who have joint issues as the movement in a kettlebell workout can put a strain on new users.

Resistance Bands

resistance bandsResistance Bands got their start as physical rehabilitation equipment. They are light and easily transported and take up almost no space. Resistance bands are great for people with limited space and for those who cannot afford the sometimes prohibitive costs of free weight sets or exercise machines. As with kettlebell reviews, there are several websites online that offer reviews of resistance bands for quality versus price.

The concept is very simple-the stretchable bands are designed by color to represent weight of resistance when pulled on. They can easily be adapted for use either sitting or standing, and the exercises are similar to free weight exercises in terms of hand placement and the like. Resistance bands will absolutely give you a great “pump” and offer an alternate way to train isolation exercises without needing free weights.

If you are an extremely strong person, resistance bands would not be your first choice for standalone exercise equipment, unless you are going to use them in conjunction with your barbells and dumbbell to specifically train acceleration. This is a common practice in powerlifting. For standalone use, free weights would be better by far for any exercise involving large amount of weight as resistance bands usually max out at about 250-300 pounds of resistance.

Stability Ball

stability ballCalled by a variety of names, the stability ball (balance ball, Swiss ball) is also a piece of equipment developed for physical rehabilitation. The stability ball is versatile and can be used in conjunction with hand weights to perform almost any exercise you would wish.

Stability balls are excellent equipment when used for core exercises and work both the back muscles and the stomach muscles while in use. There are a large number of different exercises available to balance balls and they can be tailored for individual uses.

The stability ball would not be a good fit for someone who is using it as a ‘base’ for heavy weight work. There have been reports of balls popping because of misuse in this way. Free weights alone are much better for heavy weight work and a regular weight bench is the best base for activities with weights over about 50 pounds.

Home-Made Equipment

As the saying goes, “necessity is the mother of invention”, and no where is this more true than with home-made equipment. Many people cannot afford to buy the items needed to workout and they have developed many ingenious ways to build their own. A good example of home-made weights would be the humble one gallon plastic jug.

Filled with water, it can weigh up to three pounds; filled with sand, it can weigh up to 10. The gallon jug can be used in many of the same ways as hand weights are used-add a second equally filled jug and either a broom stick or a piece of pipe and you have a weight bar to use as well. Other materials for home-made equipment could include cinder blocks, bricks, garden timbers, filled cans, and so forth.

homemade equipment

The great thing about all of these items is that usually they are found around most homes, and you can use them to replicate the types of workouts you would do with a weight set. The caution with these items is that they can be bulky and hard to control. These are not the type of weights children should use, for example. Free weights would be better for some of the overhead exercises, because unless secure to the bar, the home-made ones can slip off and injure you.

And there we have it; the cousins to mainstream weightlifting equipment. Some of it is very rudimentary, but all can give you a decent workout and change up your routine.

About the Author

Mr. Health has been a personal trainer for over a decade with expertise in numerous areas of concentration including functional strength, core strength, and numerous other areas. Health and wellness topics have always been a secret pleasure of mine.

Mr. Health takes deep pride in working and studying areas that could benefit special populations. These are groups, which are normally turned away by most trainers as the trainer seems to fear the condition of the potential client. Everything I share with you is what I have learned as a personal trainer who researches health based topics as if it was my sole purpose.

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