6 Best Strength Training Exercises with Free Weights

Free weights mean free will. (Image via unsplash/Anastase Maragos)
Free weights mean free will. (Image via unsplash/Anastase Maragos)

When you walk into a gym to exercise, it's easy to get overwhelmed. The people, the music, the monumental amount of equipment—who wouldn't be petrified? So if you're a beginner or just someone who's not interested in stacking up too much equipment, free weights are your best friend.

What are Free Weights?

Free weights are weights you can move around from one place to another. Barbells, dumbbells, and kettlebells constitute this category. Of course, working out with free weights means no cable machines, but maybe that's not such a bad thing.

Why Free Weights?

Free weights generally have a lot more to offer in terms of versatility. They're easy to use and not as complicated as some of the cable machines at your local gym. They also offer you the opportunity to do just about anything.

Dumbbells and barbells are, well, just dumbbells and barbells. It's what you do with them that counts. On the other hand, Cable-assisted machines are designed to assist you in every motion and are usually designed for a specific purpose.

Sure, some crafty people have found multiple alternate ways to use these machines, but they're typically designed with a specific purpose in mind and are usually easier to use than free weights.

So, if you're looking to intensify your workouts or simply move away from the cables in your gym, here are 6 of the best free weight exercises you can do to build muscle.

Best Free Weight Exercises for Strength Training

1) Barbell Deadlift

The barbell deadlift is probably the most popular exercise in the gym. It's an all-rounder, or in more complex terms, a compound lift that trains multiple body parts at once.

Deadlifts can help you build a solid back while engaging your glutes, hamstrings, quads, and core. The best thing about deadlifts is that they burn a great amount of fat and are extremely fun to perform. The hard part, however, is getting the form right.

It is crucial to maintain a back arch while performing a deadlift, and any lapse in this arch could result in a serious injury. If you're a gym newbie, it would be wise to practice the form with an empty barbell or with light dumbbells and then slowly add more weight as you progress.

The deadlift is a classic, intense, and rewarding exercise that makes it a fitting addition to any program, new and advanced alike.


2) Arnold Press

The Arnold Press is an advanced variation of the shoulder press with a little more pizzazz. It requires decently strong shoulders to work for you, but you can lay that foundation in no time with adequate training and nutrition.

The Arnold Press, popularized by seven-time Mr. Olympia winner Arnold Schwarzenegger, is a phenomenal workout for anyone looking to grow their delts. This exercise targets your traps, front deltoids, and even your triceps.

However, this great exercise comes at a cost. Since the Arnold press requires you to rotate your shoulders inward as you push them up, you run the risk of damaging them. Therefore, it is essential to stretch and perform warm-up sets before lifting. It is also recommended to keep the weight light on this exercise and focus on getting 8-10 reps per arm.


3) Dumbbell Rows

Dumbbell rows are a solid, efficient, and relatively easy exercise to perform. It can be performed by beginners and advanced weightlifters, and it also has a few progressions.

Dumbbell rows target your traps, lats, lower back, and rear delts. If done right, dumbbell rows can be a great accessory to your workout.


4) Goblet Squats

Goblet squats are an easy and effective exercise to perform, especially when you don't have access to a barbell. This can serve as an alternative to the back squat, the more popular squatting variation.

Like the traditional back squat, the goblet squat trains your glutes and quadriceps while employing your hamstrings to stabilize the movement.

Since the goblet squat requires you to grab your dumbbell/kettlebell with both hands and hold it up to the chest, it tightens your core and keeps it engaged, resulting in a stronger abdomen. This is an excellent choice if you're looking for a quick alternative to back squats.


5) Glute Bridges

If you're looking to grow your posterior muscles and build strength in your glutes, glute bridges are a crucial exercise. They are versatile and can be done either with a barbell or dumbbells.

They target not only the glutes but also your quads and calves, akin to a squat. There is no better exercise for you if building strong glutes is your goal.


6) Seated ISO Dumbbell Curls

If you're looking for a killer pump to cap off your workout or an exercise that'll get your blood flowing, look no further than ISO Dumbbell Curls.

While they can be performed seated and standing, it is recommended to perform them while seated for optimum muscle growth, as sitting helps stabilize your lower body and allows you to use solely your bicep to lift the weights.

For this exercise, bring one dumbbell up almost halfway. The point from the top of your shoulder to the dumbbell should form an L-shape. Next, with your unoccupied arm, perform dumbbell curls as you would normally. After ten reps, switch positions and repeat.

This is a great workout to blow up your biceps and a very high note to end your workout on.



You don't need fancy machines and the assistance of cables to build an impressive physique. What you need is a few dumbbells, a barbell with some plates, good sleep, good nutrition, and a solid training program. Focusing on high-quality reps rather than high-quality machines will help build high-quality muscles.

Poll : Do you prefer free weights or machines?

Free weights


63 votes

Edited by Piyush Bisht
Be the first one to comment