Gym equipment makes training much easier since everything is laid out in different areas of the gym. Not every gym has the same equipment, but you should have a general understanding of how the equipment provided in your gym plan should be used.
This allows you to have an effective workout routine, prevent possible injuries, and saves you the time of trying to figure out what to do.
Let’s take a look at the different types of equipment you will encounter in the gym, and discuss how to use them properly.
How to Use Cardio Equipment
Equipment can make cardio workouts look a bit intimidating these days with all the features they provide. For example, most treadmills at the gym will allow you to adjust the speed you are going and keep it that way until you change it.
Then they have the option of incline or decline. Incline means the treads are going to give resistance as if you were trying to run up a hill, which of course is not the easiest task to accomplish.
Decline means it imitates running downhill, which means you will be moving very quickly with little resistance holding you back. If these two settings are present, then an automatic “outdoor running” option or something to that effect will be available. This setting imitates going up and down different terrain automatically.
Asides the treadmill, you also have bicycle machines, the elliptical and even stair steppers. No matter what you go to the gym for, you need to consider performing a 5 minute warm up session to help loosen up your joints and tendons while also increasing the blood flow to your muscles. The whole point to this is to make your workout more efficient and prevent injuries.
The elliptical and bicycle machines are good for this type of warm up, but can also be selected for the specific cardio workout you wish to perform. A lot of these pieces of gym equipment start once you begin moving the pedals. Then, you can usually make adjustments to resistance after they recognize movement.
How to Use Free Weights
Free weights are widely found within most gyms and can be a bit tricky for those with little experience.
This type of equipment gets its name because the weights are not attached to anything on the ground or wall, which make them a bit dangerous for those not experienced. You want to first start off by choosing the exercise you wish to perform. We will use the squat rack for performing barbell back squats as an example.
The squat rack is designed for you to set the bar to where you can lift the weight and replace it easily. This usually means you will have the bar set to where you slightly have to lean forward to get the bar into the position across your upper back.
Once this is completed, you have to add the weight equally to both sides of the bar, and then barbell clamps are used to keep the weight in place for everyone’s protection. Without these clamps, the weight could slide and cause serious damage or injury.
Remember to always place the free weight back to where they are meant to be stored. Injuries occur often because of people tripping on loose weights or smashing their hands against a dumbbell while trying to lower their equipment to their sides.
How to Use Resistance Machines
Resistance machines imitate the exercises that are performed with free weights, and also give their own unique touch to training as well.
Most machines are going to have a display on it showing you what exercise is intended to be performed on it, and probably even a name on the machine as well. However, be careful because sometimes the wrong exercise name is used for the machine.
Resistance machines work off of a cable pulley mechanism. When you pull or push the cable, you will see the weights in the safety block move up and down. Never put your hand in this area and never try to change the weight setting until the weight blocks are fully down.
Another bad habit to not start is allowing the weight to slam back down. This could break the weights and/or the machine. There should be a rod that allows you to adjust the weight, but some machines have different selector switches. Read the instructions on the label if you are not sure.
Another type of resistance machine is the adjustable cable pulleys. This area is meant for moving the pulley into the position that you wish. For example, you place the pulley up higher for triceps pull downs, but lower the pulley to the floor biceps curls. Various types of grips come with this machine as well.
Handles/Grips Commonly Found in Gyms are:
- Straight Bar
- Long Wide-Grip Bar
- Cable Ropes
- Single Grip Handle
Each one of these pieces of equipment is intended to attach to a cable machine, and can be used for multiple exercises instead of just one or two.
Start Training Safely and Effectively
This information is to get you headed in the right direction with the use of gym equipment. They are fairly easy to get used to, but it takes repetitive actions with each piece of equipment to build up muscle memory.
Injury is far less possible when you know how to use your gym equipment properly. Just take a second and think about what you need to do with the equipment, read the labels if possible, and start your workout.