Top 5 ingredients for an effective free weight area.

TOP 5 Ingredients for an effective free weights area.

1. Getting the right flooring spec.
Make a mistake here and your free weights area will fail. Flooring spec considerations are as follows:
. How effective it is when are weights being dropped in terms of noise and vibration?
. How much bounce is there and/or when weights are dropped?
. How soft or firm is the material?
. How thick is the material relative to surrounding areas?
. How much radius is there on each corner/edge of the top surface?

You want the material to dampen as much of the initial impact as possible, absorbing the energy of a dropped weight. This acoustically makes for a better gym, but the energy transfer is minimised by transferring into the subfloor or the structure into adjoining rooms. In the same breath, the material cannot be so soft it is unstable. Another characteristic is that the material is so bouncy, a dropped weight bounces into another user, other equipment, or yourself.
Thicker material is not always better, some of the best material out there is no thicker than 33mm, with some 20mm layered systems workings exceptionally well. With a lower profile material, you have fewer trip hazards, but also you may have ceiling height issues with tall equipment, so it really is key to get an understanding of the intended purpose/or activity, the equipment being used before installing any flooring. The final point in regards to the radius size, if two edges meet and the radius on both is considerable, then you could have an area where ankle rolls can occur if the activity is somewhat dynamic. If the area is to be used for dumbbell work, we normally suggest removing other stations or benches which do not need to be in the same area. Consider backing them onto the area so that the dedicated area can work its best.

Ecore Performance Gym Flooring

2: Plenty of adjustable benches
We have been to plenty of gyms on Monday and Tuesday nights, when all dumbbell benches are in use, and people are literally queuing for them. For the relatively small investment, adding extra benches, both flat, adjustable, and fixed incline, can and will transform your free-weight area. More benches more people training at once and thus an increase in the flow into and out of the area. If you have dedicated bench press benches or racks in the current area, think about moving them off the free-weights area and either another place entirely or turning them 180 degrees. More benches need more space, but it is a smart alteration that will keep members happy.

STS Adjustable Bench


3: Good range of dumbbells. 
Typically clubs have a set of 2.5-40kg with a stack of 1-10kg and that’s it, however, as with a lack of benches, a lack of common-sized dumbbells also causes problems and bottlenecks in your free-weights area. If you have a 2.5-40kg Set, add in an extra pair of 10/15/20/25kg and notice how it frees up members using them. If you have a large member club, consider 2 extra pairs of the most common weights. Understanding the user’s exercise selection can help you understand when and how the flow is pinched. If you have a Crossfit type gym, then load up on the 15kg and 22.5kg sizes for RX & Scaled WODs, there is no need for the expensive heavier sizes, add in extra of the most used. With the dumbbells, storage should also be considered, don’t settle for 10-pair sets because the racks match, there are many companies out there (including us) who do bespoke storage solutions to suit spaces and quantities.

Iron Grip Dumbbells

4The right lighting in the area:
Typically dumbbell areas are busy areas and good lighting levels area required for it to be safe, that does however not mean we need large bright lights directly above the benches, this itself is not safe and can cause discomfort for users when working flat on a bench. The better approach is to light over the dumbbell racks so loading and unloading are safer and around the perimeter. If a central light is needed as the space is large, go with it, but do not position a bench directly underneath it, stagger the layout. Depending on the make-up of your gym and its members, differing lighting colours really can create some cool spaces. Always avoid any flashing lights in these areas. Up-lighting or up/down lighting on walls works really well and does take away the glare.

As I alluded to in previous sections, space is the key to a very effective and efficient free-weight area. If it’s dumbbells, don have kettlebells in the same area as the movement is dynamic and more floor space is required. I wouldn’t have any form of platforms or Olympic lifting in a free-weight area due to drops potentially causing moments of distraction to other users or the potential of a failed lift landing on another user. Have these in other areas of the gym. Keep the areas concise and to the intended activity. As a rule of thumb, we space benches at 2000mm centres, this is sufficient spacing to move around the area and if weights are dropped, reduces the chance of coming into contact with others. Distance from the dumbbell rack itself should be no less than 1500mm, again for loading/unloading weight and moving back to your bench. Space is key to your area being spoken about by members and users in the right way.


If you are considering tweaking your existing free-weight area or wish to discuss making some wholesale changes, please do pick up the phone or email us. We are here to share our knowledge from years of coaching and training to better your gym.
01327 206550