Leave The Plates At Home
When pressed for time and space, weighted bars are a great tool for any group fitness instructor or personal trainer. There are no plates or clamps to keep track of, and you won’t lose valuable time waiting while your clients continually adjust their weights. Ideal for an endless list of exercises, most bars have a comfortable grip and a bright label color-coded by weight that make them easily used by even the newest participant. Choosing the right bars, and storage, is a great start to giving your clients a fun and easy-to-use tool that will boost their strength workout regardless of their fitness level.
Traditional Weighted Bars These bars come in a variety of weights to fit the varying fitness levels of your clients. While almost all weighted bars are 4 feet in length, lighter bars usually start at 4 pounds and heavier ones weigh up to 36 pounds for the more advanced user. Not sure where to start? Consider how you plan to use the bars. Choose one of the mid-weights, roughly 12 to 15 pounds, for an experienced user, and slightly lower weights for novices. When purchasing bars for class use, about half of the bars should be in the middle weight (12-15 lbs.), a quarter of them slightly lower (9 lbs.), and a quarter slightly higher (18-24 lbs.). Most classes will not need bars much heavier than 18 pounds because participants will likely want one bar for all exercises, both upper and lower body. In such a case, those attending class would want a weight that will challenge them during exercises like lunges, without being too heavy to use later for a bicep curl.
Mini-Weighted Bars Mini-weighted bars are perfect for exercises that require independent arm movements. For example, when lying on your back doing a chest fly, the longer traditional weighted bar must be turned vertically, presenting a somewhat awkward movement. Mini-weighted bars, however, provide participants with an easier option. Ranging in length from 12 to 24 inches, the bars typically weigh between 2 and 4 pounds. Unlike traditional dumbbells that can be difficult to store, mini-weighted bars can be stacked on a shelf, against a wall, or even in your locker! The light weight of mini-weighted bars make them an excellent choice for new participants and rehab patients—but don’t be fooled into thinking they are easy. Add the weight to an abdominal exercise or to work a smaller area like the wrist or rotator cuff and you will soon feel the small tool’s big punch!
Easy Storage One of the weighted bar’s biggest selling points for facility directors is how easily they can be stored. You can fit enough bars for a large class onto a single rack that can be tucked away into a closet or against a wall, saving valuable space. Vertical storage racks typically hold an average of 24 bars, and horizontal racks hold up to 48. Some racks are made to stay in a designated spot, and many others come with wheels for easy mobility. If your facility is often pressed for space, consider the convenience a mobile rack would provide over a stationary one, especially in group fitness studios. Often purchasing a rack and weighted bars at the same time will qualify you for discounted pricing.
Safety and Equipment Care Although a 4 to 36 pound weight may not sound like much to an experienced fitness professional, remember that many participants are new to strength training, even if they have been “working out” for years. Start new users with a low weight and slowly increase the weight as their ability progresses. Monitor correct form, especially on exercises that may compromise the knees and lower back such as squats and dead lifts. While weighted bars are typically very sturdy, watch for nicks and cuts in the bar’s coating as well as the end caps and colored labeling, which can deteriorate or come off over time. When cared for properly, weighted bars are an economical and fun way to keep your clients moving!
Meredith earned a bachelor’s degree in Sport Management from the University of Tennessee, Knoxville. She has worked in the health and fitness industry for over eight years. She began her career as a certified Body Pump instructor through Les Mills International and since then has added Body Step and Body Flow certifications through LMI. To expand her specialty training, she obtained instructor certifications in Spinning from Mad Dogg Athletics and Kick Boxing from AFFA and ISCA. She is also an ACE Certified Group Fitness Instructor. In addition to group fitness instruction, she worked in fitness center management and sales before joining the Power Systems Education Department.