22 Jun The 7 Best Strength Training Tools
It’s not the sophisticated equipment, but the simple, time tested training implements that offer the best results.
Understanding that, here’s my list of the 7 best training tools to increase total body strength.
There are a few obvious ones, but there may be a few surprises to you, as well.
Also, keep in mind, if I included conditioning or mobility tools, the list would be a lot longer.
These are the best tools for strength.
Here’s the list:
An obvious training tool designed to increase maximal strength.
There is nothing like barbell training to increase maximal loads against gravity.
The barbell is designed to load the bar to progressively heavier loads until you can’t move the bar any longer.
If you did nothing but barbell lifts, you’d become incredibly strong, as well as so many other benefits that the bar has to offer.
To get “strong beyond belief” you must integrate the barbell into your training.
It’s pretty simple, but it’s hard, which is one of the reasons why many prefer to avoid it.
To get strong, you must lift strong and the barbell is the perfect tool to do that.
A close second would be the kettlebell.
Kettlebells will get you stronger, without question.
But, you must train with heavy loads (your 5 RM kettlebell, let’s say) to get strong.
The kettlebell is an outstanding conditioning tool, but to get really strong you have to train heavier.
There’s a difference between strength endurance (kettlebell snatch test) and maximal strength (1/2 bodyweight kettlebell press).
An important point to remember is that you must progress the loads (as with barbell training) to increase strength, so if you have just one kettlebell, you’ll be limited in pushing into your strength zone.
I’m going to say that the kettlebell is a superior strength and conditioning tool.
But, for it to be a superior strength tool, you have to use the right training program to increase maximal strength.
This is how I want you think about bodyweight training.
Your body is a tool.
The way you manipulate your body against gravity can be extreme resistance.
No other equipment is required for such great strength and movement based exercises like the pistol squat or one arm push-up (ala Naked Warrior).
Make no mistake that bodyweight training will make you stronger.
And, it will do it in many different ways because of the total body integration of bodyweight training.
There are some very strong people out there that do bodyweight only training.
While my preference is to make it a part of the strength training approach, it is a very powerful tool in the strength tool box.
4-PULL UP BAR
This an extension of bodyweight training, but a separate tool.
The pull up bar is very powerful for total body strength.
Obviously, you need a pull up bar to perform pull-ups, which are an incredible full body strength integration of your body.
Because of the huge value in doing pull-ups, the pull up bar has to be one of the best tools for strength.
And, there are other great strength exercises you can do on the pull up bar, as well:
- hanging leg raises
- muscle ups
- front levers
- numerous pull up variations
- ring work
- and the list could go on…
Just working on a one or more of these will increase total body strength (but specifically grip, core, and shoulder strength) to new levels.
Let’s say you had only a free standing pull up bar and that’s all you had to train with, do you think you’d get really strong?
Absolutely you would.
The pull up bar is a very powerful, essential, and possibly under valued strength training tool.
And, lets not forget there’s a lot of hidden benefits here such as mobility, strength endurance, and trunk stabilization and strength.
The sled is probably an undervalued strength tool for most.
Pushing and/or pulling with a weighted sled is an unbelievable training method offering similar, but different benefits as previously mentioned.
Basically, there’s nothing you’re not working with weighted pushes and pulls.
Yes, there’s a big conditioning component with sled work, but you must be strong to move the weight.
It’s kind of a “primal” approach to the strength training.
Very simple and very effective for full body strength and power.
Sled work is for serious strength.
The concept of the sandbag is that it’s dynamic resistance.
The sand is heavy and it moves around as you maneuver it with different lifts like swings, presses, squats, and other full body lifts.
While the sandbag is currently not a staple tool for me, I do think it belongs to be mentioned as one of the better strength training tools because of the effectiveness and simplicity.
Like kettlebells, sandbag training is full body, dynamic movement patterns with progressive loads.
While you can’t increase loads to levels of the barbell, obviously, you can get incredible strength gains from sandbag work.
And, you get the conditioning benefits, as well.
As much as I didn’t want to include dumbbells on this list, it’s still one of the best ways to progressively increase loads to build strength.
Personally, I have’t used dumbbells in some time and I typically only use them if I’m traveling and that’s the only option at the hotel gym.
One of the reasons I don’t use them is because I’ve ditched the isolation exercises and much prefer kettlebells and the barbell.
But, you can still use dumbbells as a good option for full body exercises (shoulder presses, squats and variations, deadlifts, cleans, thrusters, etc) to get great results.
The bottom line is using them is still a solid way to get stronger because of the progressive overload and full body training approach.
While I don’t use them anymore, they still deserve a spot on the list of strength tools.
Well, there’s my list of the 7 best strength training tools.
I have my “big 3” which are barbells, kettlebells, and bodyweight training.
And, this article serves to make you aware of the best available tools to get you stronger, but it doesn’t mean you should be doing them all.
As a matter of fact, I would say the less, the better.
Contrary to some popular belief, I do believe it’s better to “specialize” rather than “specializing in not specializing” if you know what I mean.
This goes back to the 80/20 rule, in that 80% of your results comes from 20% of what you do.
So, why not focus on the 20%, huh?
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