Strength Training Equipment: The Ultimate Guide

Strength Training Equipment The Ultimate Guide, December 2021

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I aim to make this strength training equipment guide the most in-depth available.

Whether you are a beginner who wants to learn about a piece of equipment, or a seasoned lifter looking to buy some new gear for the home gym, this guide has you covered.

It's gonna be a long old read, so here's a navigation table so you can skip to any equipment you like.

Please note: for my recommended products, I have factored in price as well as how good the item is. I have found, what I believe, is the best all round, cost-effective option.

Strength Training Equipment Guide

Power Racks

Full squat rack / power rack / temple of gains

A vital piece of strength training equipment. Provides a safe way to squat and bench press.

Also good for a number of other exercises: Overhead presses, rack pulls, inverted rows, pin presses and usually pull-ups.

Click here for my in-depth guide on the best power rack to buy for a home gym.

Recommended Product:

Usage and buying tips:

Set safety bars at correct height if adjustable

Walk the bar out of the rack backwards

Don't overload the bar on one side. It will tip!

Perform curls inside them at your own risk.

Learn to squat with this article.

Video review of the RML-490 rack:

Squat Stands

Gives you the ability to do many of the same exercises as you can with a full power rack, without taking up as much space.

Usually stands don't have proper safety bars, you will definitely need a spotter.

Usage and buying tips:

Set safety bars at correct height if adjustable

Walk the bar out of the rack backwards

Don't overload the bar on one side. It will tip!


Rogue Euro Olympic WL bar. Quiet an investment but it will last and a fraction of most other high-end bar's cost.

Plus, it is a key piece of weight training equipment.

Usage and buying tips:

Some non-competition bars have no knurling in the center.

I suggest finding one that does have a knurled center if you plan on squatting with it.

Recommended Product:

Power Bar

As the name suggests, designed for powerlifting exercises primarily.

Much stiffer than an Olympic bar since the added flex or "whip" isn't needed.

Power bars will usually have bushes in the sleeves instead of bearings, as they don't need to rotate as freely.

Usage and buying tips:

Not suited for Olympic lifting exercises, the more aggressive knurling on most power bars will tear your hands apart.

Check the tensile strength of the bars and get one that isn't going to be damaged by your heaviest lifts.

Recommended Product:

Deadlift Bar

Very heavy duty bars made for very heavy deadlifts. 

More aggressive knurling than any other bar, supremely high loading capacity and longer than standard bars. All things that will enhance your deadlift.

Usage and buying tips:

If you compete in a federation that doesn't use a deadlift bar on meet day, you probably shouldn't train with one too often.

Not suitable for other lifts. it's a deadlift bar.

Recommended Product:

Trap Bar / Hex Bar

Allows you to perform deadlifts with the weight in-line with your center of gravity, instead of being out in front.

Great for extra quad activation and less posterior chain involvement.

Usage and buying tips:

Make sure you get one with long sleeves if you want to deadlift heavy.

There are some available with shorter sleeves that can only fit a few plates on.

Safety Squat Bar / SSB

Changes the center of mass when squatting. Brings the center of mass further forward, more like a front squat.

Forces you to stay much more upright and is usually more comfortable for those with lower back trouble.

Demands less shoulder flexibility. So, if you can't squat due to shoulder issues, this could be a life-saver.

Still a very challenging exercise and a great accessory movement for improving your squat.

Usage and buying tips:

Try it out if you have lower back trouble. An SSB should ease the pressure on your lumber.

Get one with a good amount of padding for extra comfort and stability over your shoulders.


Standard Bench Press

Fixed bench press rack and bench. Usually there isn't any adjustment and they can vary in design quite a bit.

Probably won't have any safety bars.

Usage and buying tips:

Use a spotter if there aren't any safety bars.

If the bench is too high for you to plant your feet, try putting your feet on a couple of plates, boxes or aerobics steps.

Competition bench press

Competition Bench Press Rogue Monster Westside Bench. Bench in safety in a competition style bench press. Fully adjustable, band pegs and optional spotter decks. Surprisingly well priced too.

As the name suggests, these are the benches used in powerlifting competitions.

Will usually be higher quality all round than a standard commercial bench press.

Adjustable rack height as well as safety bars making benching much easier.

Usage and buying tips:

Set the safety bars right below your chest when you are benching. If you are benching with you shoulders retracted and a slight arch in your lower back, all it should take is for you to flatten your back out in order for the barbell to rest on the safety bars.

Incline Bench Press

The inclined angle of the bench slightly changes the way your muscles work to press the weight.

Compared to flat benching, you will work more of your upper chest and shoulder muscles. Most people will need to use slightly less weight.

Usage and buying tips:

Ideally, a bench that is adjustable for a couple of different incline angles will give more options.

I generally prefer quite a low incline. Once you start getting past around 30 degrees in incline angle, the shoulders come into play much more.

Body-Solid GDIB46L Incline Bench. A fairly cheap bench that is still of good quality. Also has a few different adjustments so you can switch the angles up a bit. Not too keen on the leg developer, but it I see it as an added bonus that I might use at times.

Decline Bench Press

The opposite to the incline bench applies here. You will work less muscle of the upper chest.

Your triceps will also get more involvement than on the incline, but less than a flat bench.

Generally, people are able to handle more weight once they get used to the decline position.

The extra weight is mostly due to a decrease in range of motion on the decline bench.

Usage and buying tips:

Start light and feel the movement out. It can be a strange position to get used to so don't jump straight in with your usual bench press weight.

Body-Solid SBD351G Proclub Decline Bench. Commercial approved quality bench for non-commercial pricing. If you want a dedicated decline bench in a home gym, this is a great choice.

Free Moving / Adjustable benches

A staple in pretty much every gym. 

Will be mainly used for dumbbell work.

Can also be placed inside of a power rack if you want to bench safely without a spotter.

Usage and buying tips:

Make sure the bench is sturdy. Many adjustable benches shake around, particularly in the incline position.

Incorporate some dumbbell pressing in your program. Dumbbells are great for getting more of a stretch than the barbell allows on presses.

Be sure to work the full range of motion to get the benefits.

PowerBlock Sport Bench. Super sturdy bench, 5 incline adjustments from flat to upright. The seat can also be adjusted to stop you sliding off mid-set.


Fixed Dumbbells

These will be what you find in the majority of gyms.

Can be used for a plethora of exercises.

You can incorporate dumbbell variations of barbell exercises like presses and rows to increase the range of motion of the exercise.

Will be very expensive to buy a full set for a home gym.

Usage and buying tips:

Work through the entire range of motion, don't cheat yourself.

Adjustable Dumbbells

Much more cost effective option if you're looking for home gym equipment.

Can be bought in various different weight ranges to suit your strength levels.

Usage and buying tips:

Pay for quality here. There are some that are a little flimsy and rattle when you lift, very annoying.

Some sets also end up being quite bulky and awkward once you get into the higher weights. Bare that in mind when you browse your options.

IronMaster Quick-Lock Adjustable dumbbells. These give you the quick-change over that you don't get with the spin-lock style dumbbells, while still retaining the actually dumbbell "feel" that many quick-change sets lose. Certainly the go-to dumbbells for a home gym.

pull-up and dip stations

Power Tower

A 2-in1 pull-up and dip station.

Some come with various grips for pull-ups and even varied dip-bar widths.

Usage and buying tips:

Make sure there is plenty of space between any handles on the pull-up bar.

Some models come with different angled grips but lack space for your hands to do a regular pull-up.

If you have a power rack that allows pull-ups, you probably don't need to buy one of these. Just get some dip bars.

Fitness Reality X-Class High Capacity Power Tower. Bit of a mouthful to pronounce! If you are going to get a power tower, get one that's sturdy and doesn't shake around. This one is quite a big investment but the cheaper ones are infuriatingly flimsy.
In my opinion, you should put the money towards a good power rack that you can do pullups on instead, and then buy some parallel bar or a dips attachment, if available.

Parallel Dips Bars / Dips Handles

A set of parallel bars used for performing dips.

Some models have slightly angled bars so that you can vary grip width. Different grip widths will work your muscles slightly differently

Usage and buying tips:

Dips are an excellent upper body builder.

They work your chest heavily as well as your triceps.

Lean your body forward with a slightly wider grip to target the chest more.

Stay more upright with a closer grip and tucked elbows to switch the emphasis more to your triceps.

Body-Solid Commercial Dip Station. A nice, solid piece of equipment that would be suitable for a home gym or commercial gym. Has a 500lbs max capacity and the bars are slightly angles for different grip widths. More expensive than some but you pay for the quality with gym gear.


Competition Kettlebells / Cast iron kettlebells

One of the very oldest and time-tested pieces of strength training equipment.

Extremely versatile and unique in the way they force your muscles to work.

Use them for intense interval workouts, pure strength training or explosive, athletic movements.

Usage and buying tips:

Use them for full-body, explosive movements like swings, cleans and press, snatches and Turkish get-ups to get the most out of them.

Males start with 12-16kg.

Females for for 8-12kg to start.

Go for competition kettlebells. They are shaped to be more comfortable to use. Plus, the size of the kettlebell and handle is the same, no matter the weight, which helps with technique consistency. 

Perform Better First Place Competition Kettlebell. Available from 8kg up to 48kg. Very solid kettlebell with a nice finish on the handle and no sharp burrs or edges to tear your hands up. Read my full post on finding the best kettlebell.

Glute-ham Developers

Glute-Ham Developer / G.H.D

Glute-Ham Developer G.H.D

Rogue Abram GHD 2.0. This thing is solid. Not cheap but it is specialist equipment. Rogue actually offer a step up from this for double the price if you have the budget and want all the bells and whistles. This is the one I'd go for, though.

There are hardly any "machines" or contraptions on this list of strength training equipment. So, you can appreciate how much I rate this machine.

It's used to strengthen your hamstrings, glutes and lower back.

Having a strong posterior chain is helpful strength sports, team sports, athletics and daily life.

A G.H.D is pretty expensive for your home gym but is an excellent piece of equipment if you have access to it or can buy one.

Usage and buying tips:

I love doing these as an accessory after lower body movements.

It's really an awesome way to strengthen your posterior chain without putting any compressive load on your spine.

Denver Matheson

I spend a lot of time at the gym and even more time in the kitchen giving my body what it needs to repair itself and grow stronger. The third most important place for any athlete is their research zone. That's exactly why this site exists, to help me share all of the information I've learned throughout the years just like people did for me in the first place!

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