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Top 5 Pieces of Strength Equipment you Can’t live Without

Picture this scenario: You have a few thousand dollars burning a hole in your pocket and you want to build yourself a home gym. Of course, a few thousand dollars in normal circumstances cannot outfit a complete commercial quality gym selection of equipment, but most definitely can purchase the bare essentials for a good workout. So let’s say this few thousand dollars can net you a total of FIVE pieces of strength equipment, what do you choose? Strength Militia staff did a private polling of over 1000 strength enthusiasts and asked them this exact question, with no restriction on price, but you could only choose your top 5 pieces. Below are the TOP FIVE responses we received from our poll. Enjoy!

1) Power Rack: This was an obvious no-brainer for most since the traditional power rack is capable of offering a wide variety of exercises in a single unit. And, depending on your choice of power rack, many of the ones available today come with band attachments, dip bars, pull up bars, and the like. But, what good is a power rack without one of the most important accessories to the rack, the barbell, which leads us to selection #2.

2) The Barbell: There are varying types of barbells to purchase but one thing remains the same with all, the barbell is a very useful piece of equipment. Paired with a nice power rack, the barbell is highly important for mainstay exercises like the squat (front, back, overhead, etc.), bench press (flat, incline, decline, etc.), floor press, standing press, deadlift rack pulls, and more. Outside of the rack, the barbell is great for various exercises like deadlifts (sumo, conventional, etc.), bent over row, Olympic weightlifting and other accessory lifts. But, what good is a 45lb barbell without more weight creating added resistance; hello selection #3!!

3) Bumper Plates: The problem with conventional steel plates is they don’t rebound well when dropped from above the shoulder, or even from six inches from the ground for that matter. This is why when polled, most chose to have a nice set of bumper plates as one of their necessary pieces of equipment. Not only are bumper plates fine to use in everyday strength training, they are also one of the most important items used when training in Olympic weightlifting.

4) Bench: What good is a power rack, barbell, and bumper plates if you don’t have a bench to bench press with? Not only that, a good bench can be used in other ways like step ups, box squats, jump box,hip bridges, bench dips, and other various accessory exercises. In the poll, people did not specify what type of bench they wanted, flat or adjustable, but lets just say for the sake of variety the adjustable one since it allows for more exercises than the purely flat bench.

5) Dumbells: I know what you are all thinking, why do we need a set of dumbells if we have a perfectly good barbell and bumper plates? The short and obvious answer is, because they said so. When we were outfitting my old gym we purchased a set of rubber hex dumbells (10lbs-100lbs) for a little over $1000. This to me was an invaluable purchase since dumbells add that many more exercises to your regimen, making your workouts much more successful.

Whatever equipment you find invaluable, whatever wets your whistle, as long as you can get the workout you desire it is the perfect choice, for you. Some of the notable runner ups for this poll were powerlifting chains, bands, Olympic rings, and lifting belts. Please comment below with your top five strength equipment choices. Thanks for reading!

Tosh.O Web Redemption – Weightlifting

Regardless of what you think of Daniel Tosh this segment was pretty damn funny.

http://tosh.cc.com/video-clips/6mstcf/web-redemption—weightlifting

Mobility for the Big 3 (Squat, Bench, Deadlift)

Mobility isn’t considered “cool” by exercise standards. In fact, it’s often considered rather dull, repetitive and boring. Some would even say it’s a complete waste of time distracting you from the key business of lifting heavier weights. However, this attitude is short sighted, better mobility in key areas can allow you to achieve better anatomical positions during the squat, bench and deadlift. Better body position gives greater mechanical advantage, meaning more weight on the bar. And strong is most definitely cool, and gains are serious business.

Squat

The squat involves almost every single muscle in the body, and movement over a substantial range of motion too. That’s why it’s such an excellent muscle and strength builder. However, in order to execute a sound squat you need good mobility in numerous joints that are often lacking such mobility; most notably the ankles, hips, t-spine, and shoulders.

Wall ankle mobs are a great way to increase ankle mobility.

Foam rolling the quads and IT band: Lie face down on the ground with the foam roller positioned under one of your quads. Complete 5 to 6 passes along the quad, from the very top of the thigh to just above the kneecap, before switching legs. Now turn so the side of your quad is on the foam roller and do 5 to 6 from just above the kneecap to just below the pelvis to hit the IT band.

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T-spine extension on a foam roller: Begin at just above the belly button, with the foam roller in position do five crunch movements. You should feel the balls pushing the vertebrae slightly forward, in effect creating range of motion at that segment. A series of these crunches can be done all the way up to the shoulder blades.

Band shoulder dislocates target both t-spine mobility and shoulder flexibility required for the rack position. I prefer the band for this as the band can slacken in areas you are more mobile and stretch at points where you need a little extra help.

Bench

Band pull-aparts and scapular push-ups teach you proper scapular activation and positioning for pressing motions.

Static hip flexor stretches and hip adductor mobs (shown below) will help develop hip mobility. Why on earth is hip mobility needed for bench press? Hip mobility allows you to get a better arch when in set-up position on the bench and improve leg drive.

T-spine mobility, and specifically extension will allow you to create a greater arch, thus reducing range of motion required and allowing you to bench more weight. T-spine extension on a foam roller (as above) or wall slides are great ways to get this done.

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Stand about a foot to a foot and a half away from wall. Make sure there is no space between the back and the wall, and the pelvis is neutral. Push arms into the wall with elbows bent below shoulders. Slowly slide hands up above head. Keep shoulders against the wall, abs engaged, and ribs pressed in towards the belly button. Try to reach hands all the way above head without allowing your back or any part of your arms to lift from the wall.

Deadlift

The Deadlift is all about the hips and the hip musculature. As such, your going to want to improve your hip flexibility. Good hip mobility will allow you to maintain a neutral spine, this is vital for anyone wishing to deadlift heavy weight or stay injury free. Given the way most of us spend our days (sitting hunched over in front of a desk, driving, sitting down watching television), our hips are constantly in flexion. This isn’t any good for anyone, and should be put straight in order to perform heavy deadlifts (or squats) safely.

Fire hydrants (popularized by Joe DeFranco) and 3-way hamstring mobilization are probably my favorite ways to open up the hips and mobilize the hamstrings and hip adductors

Note: If you still can’t maintain neutral spine during your deadlift t-spine mobility may also be a limiting factor.

The glutes obviously play a huge role in the deadlift. However, this musculature is often glossed over during soft tissue and mobility work, as such the glutes can often exhibit poor muscle fascia quality. Rolling a lacrosse ball across the glutes will significantly improve tissue quality in this vital area.

For best results integrate these movements into a well designed warm-up prior to strength training.

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About the Author:

Nick Buchan is an AGMS Graduate, PGA level 2 golf coach and UKSCA associate member.

He is also the Owner of Stronger Golf, a company dedicated to strength, conditioning and mobility for golfers.

http://strongergolf.org/