Strength Training Equipment Selection and Uses
Strength Training Equipment Selection and Uses For Residential and Commercial Applications
Having worked in strength and conditioning for two years at the Division 1 level, I can say with certainty that top-level competitive athletes spend the majority of their time focusing on compound movements that can be performed with basic strength training equipment. Free weight compound lifts are the gold standard in strength training because, unlike fitness fads that come and go, they produce incredible results. They may be primitive, but they’re never outdated.
If you want to put on a lot of muscle mass and become much stronger for your chosen sport, your best bet is to focus on squats, bench presses, power cleans, deadlifts, overhead presses, chins, and rows. And if those lifts form the core of your training program, you’re going to need durable barbells, barbell collars, weight plates, power racks, weight benches, weightlifting platforms, and rubber gym flooring.
Being a premier strength equipment dealer and manufacturer, IRON COMPANY is positioned to handle both your commercial strength training equipment needs and your home strength training equipment needs. Regardless of which market you’re in, you should expect your gear to be durable and safe. Beyond these basic requirements, a few differences between residential and commercial strength training equipment include load capacity (determined by steel gauge and whether frames are fully welded or bolt together), padding thickness, features, colors, branding options, and warranty length.
Let’s take a look at a few of IRON COMPANY’s best strength training equipment offerings for both the residential and commercial markets to help you sort through the myriad choices available.
A high-quality barbell is essential in any athlete’s strength training program. With the high cost of materials these days, finding a quality bar in the $300 price range suitable for garage gyms and high school weight rooms is challenging, but the IRON COMPANY Olympic Power Squat Bar fills the bill.
This USA-made bar with a limited lifetime warranty utilizes high-strength, stress-proof alloy steel with a tensile strength of 150,000 PSI. One of the nicest features is its versatility. It’s rigid enough for powerlifting while also offering enough whip for Olympic lifting, and black oxide steel sleeves turning on oil-impregnated bronze bushings ensure a silky smooth spin. I’d opt for the center knurling for a more secure feel when squatting, but you can also order this great bar without the center knurling if your training includes lots of snatches and cleans.
Sure, there are lots of fancy options available in weight plates these days, but for my money, you only need two kinds: cast iron plates for powerlifting and rubber bumpers for Olympic lifting. IRON COMPANY’s Deep Dish Olympic Plates showcase a classic, old-school, “deep dish” design with a wide gripping area on the larger plates for easier carrying, loading, and offloading. They’re USA-made from 90% post-consumer recycled cast iron and come in beautiful oil-baked and matte black powder coat finishes.
IRON COMPANY’s Premium Rubber Bumper Plates are compact with large numbers and offer a “dead bounce” when dropped, meaning they stay in place. They’ve also been engineered to take a pounding, with heavy gauge steel inserts and rubber hardness above the industry standard.
Straddling the line between commercial and residential strength equipment is “light” commercial, a good choice not only for home/garage gyms but also for facilities such as apartment complexes, fire stations, and physical therapy clinics. The Tuff Stuff CLB-325 Evolution Light Commercial Flat Incline Ladder Bench falls in this category and is an excellent choice for any of those applications.
Ladder-style benches are by far my favorite type of adjustable bench because of the ease of adjustment. This wonderfully designed model offers seven settings from flat to fully upright and a 3-position independent seat adjustment. The built-in handle and wheels make for effortless transport in and out of your power rack.
Speaking of power racks, another essential piece of equipment for strength training that defies classification and has both commercial and residential applications is the Legend Fitness 3226 Pro Series Half Cage. It offers a compact footprint that’s ideal for a small square footage personal training studio or garage gym along with the durability and functionality required by D-1 strength and conditioning programs.
Overbuilt with 11-gauge, 3x3” tubing to handle the heaviest loads, the 3226 features only 12 bolts across 4 joints to reduce the possible points of weakness. This awesome rack comes standard with adjustable safeties, plate and bar storage, and band pegs. It can also be configured with swivel pull-up handles, a landmine attachment, independent dipping handles, a step-up plate, a bench docking station, and platform inserts for the added programming versatility professional strength coaches demand.
You have your bar, plates, bench, and rack. Seems like your initial strength training equipment list is complete and you’re all set to start training. Not so fast my friend! You’ve forgotten an important but often-overlooked piece of equipment and are about to risk injury and damage to your new plates. Grab yourself a set of collars!
Fortunately, IRON COMPANY makes budget-friendly Olympic Spring Collars for the home strength training equipment market and Aluminum Olympic Clamp Collars for the commercial strength training equipment market, although both types provide excellent plate security regardless of the setting in which you choose to use them.
The spring collars are compatible with all 2” diameter bars and are chrome-plated with plastic grips for easier on/off. The aluminum structure of the clamp collars is not only rust-resistant but also offers all the strength without the weight or bulk of traditional steel or iron collars. Their slim design occupies only an inch of space on a bar’s sleeve.
With that little oversight out of the way, you now have the bare essentials you need to start training on a basic program of compound lifts. Bumper plates will do a reasonable job of protecting concrete floors from mild impacts, but I’d also recommend measuring your training space and laying down enough of IRON COMPANY's ⅜” Black Rolled Rubber Gym Flooring to cover any potential “drop” areas.
In a week’s training on a popular squat-push-pull split, you’ll be able to hit every major muscle group with little overlap between sessions for excellent recovery. Set your program up like this:
- Squat or Front Squat
- Barbell Reverse Lunge
- Standing Barbell Calf Raise
- Crunch Sit-up
- Flat or Incline Bench Press
- Seated or Standing Press
- Barbell Triceps Extension
- Deadlift or Power Clean
- Barbell Shrug
- Barbell Row
To periodize your major compound lifts over 12 weeks, train for the first 4 weeks using a top work set of 5 reps, progressively increasing the weight each week. During the next 4-week block, drop to triples, again adding a little iron to the bar each week. During your final 4-week block, do doubles the first 2 weeks and singles the last 2, culminating in new 1-rep maxes in the final week.
If you need help choosing between the excellent options highlighted here or any of the other commercial or residential strength equipment IRON COMPANY offers, a sales rep will be happy to help further educate you on the best options available based on your fitness goals, budget, space constraints, and other considerations. Contact Us today for all your strength equipment needs.
Chuck Miller has been immersed in the pursuit of strength and the art and science of physical transformation as a coach, athlete, and writer for over thirty years. He is the author of Inside the Mind of an Iron Icon: on strength training and bodybuilding and is a monthly columnist for HARDGAINER 2.0 Visit CORE Strength and Conditioning to learn more about his background or to book a consultation.