The Best Exercises For the Different Toys in the Gym

workoutI love the TRX.

Kettlebells are great, too.

I use barbells and dumbbells all the time.

The fact is, they’re all awesome tools, and tools are meant to be used to complete specific jobs. That’s why you have a toolbox-to carry all of the different tools you need to do different jobs.

After all, nobody uses a hammer to cut a board in half and it’d be silly to use a jackhammer to pull a nail out of a wall.

So it’s important to understand that while you can use a TRX for a bunch of different exercises, there are some that it’s better for than others. Use it for that, and then move on to using a different tool for the other things.

I totally understand if you’re in a pinch with limited equipment and you have to make due with what you have. Kudos to you if you’re in that situation from time to time and MacGyver your way through it.

But it drives me crazy to see people miss out on getting better because they’re so dead set on using a single piece of equipment for everything.

Newsflash: there’s nothing magic about a kettlebell.

Here’s what I think these common tools are great for:

Stability Balls

  • Rollouts
  • Leg Curls
  • Kicking at your friends when they’re not looking

BOSU Balls

  • a rare, change of pace for pushups when it’s flipped over
  • that’s it


  • Inverted rows, both single and 2 arm varieties
  • Fallouts for core work
  • Lat and pec stretches
  • to use as a stabilizing tool on single leg exercises


  • Deadlifts (to a certain load, then you need huge bells or a new tool)
  • Swings
  • Snatches
  • Overhead Presses
  • Loading split squats variations and other single leg work
  • Carries

Dumbbells and Barbells

  • Everything else

The caveat here are sandbags, as you really can do almost anything with those, but you’d still probably be best served to do a lot of the more traditional horizontal pressing and rowing with dumbbells or barbells due to ease of loading.

Let’s not lose sight of the fact that the entire point of strength training is to build strength and muscle, and you need progressive overload in order to do this. Barbells and dumbbells give us the best way to do this. That’s not to say it’s impossible to accomplish with another, single piece of equipment, but they’re just better for that job, most of the time.

That’s why they’ve been around for so long and aren’t going anywhere anytime soon.


I utilize all of the pieces of equipment that I listed above A LOT (except for BOSU balls), so I’m not saying that they’re useless by any stretch, just don’t get so enamored with the tool that you lose sight of the ultimate goal of training.

Find the right variations of the big bang for your buck exercises, and use the best tool that allows you to challenge them.

Because the world doesn’t need another “TRX guy” or “resistance band girl.” It needs people to be stronger, move better, and kick ass in and out of the gym.







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