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Learn the functions of different types of gym equipment so you can use them properly.
Walking into a gym can feel overwhelming - with various machines being used that all look different. The exercise devices serve different - and important - purposes. Healthy adults should perform moderate-intensity cardio exercise for 30 minutes a day, five days a week or strenuous exercise for 20 minutes a day, three days per week. Gym equipment can help you do that, but check with your doctor before starting any new exercise regimen.
Machines that exist for building your cardiovascular endurance - called cardio machines - consist of the elliptical, treadmill, stair climber, row machine and stationary bike. Each of these machines offers a way to complete your warm-up, cooldown and workout. The treadmill and elliptical machines have options to manually adjust the level of resistance you exercise at as well as the degree of incline. The row machine and the bike also have resistance settings.
Try the Cable Crossover
The cable crossover is a large piece of equipment, likely the largest at the gym. It has two sides with pulley cables and settings for height adjustments. The sides are separated by a bar that sits overhead and allows you to do pullups. The machine has various types of handles to attach to the pulleys, so you can perform such exercises as: the standing row, where the cable height is about in the center; biceps curls, where the cable height is very low; or triceps pulldowns, where the cable height is higher than the center. Most of the exercises on this machine require you to stand, but you can add in a core workout by sitting on a stability ball while completing exercises that are compatible with the machine, such as seated biceps curls. The stability ball requires great balance, so use caution.
Add Weight Machines
Weight machines allow you to strengthen one specific muscle at a time, so they are most effective for building muscle and strength. They also keep your range of motion in check, since they don't allow for much free movement. Most gyms generally have at least two weight machines for each of the major muscle groups - the shoulders, biceps, triceps, chest, abdominals and both the upper and lower back. Always read the instructions on the machine for proper seat height and placement of your body parts to avoid injury and ensure that your form is correct.
Think Outside the Machine
Free weights are barbells or dumbbells and range in weight and size, allowing for a customizable workout. You can use them to work any muscle group in a free range of motion of your choice. Free weights mimic the movement you use in everyday life, which is beneficial for increasing strength for daily activities. You can use the benches in front of the free weights for these exercises, allowing you to sit or lie flat or at an incline. Some exercises that you can do with free weights include biceps curls, shoulder presses, chest presses or bent-over rows.
Embrace the Variety
All of this equipment offers you a variety of workout options so that you can keep your workout engaging and prevent your body from getting used to the same routine. Using the same machines and exercise equipment all of the time can increase your risk for injury and eventually hinder the full benefits you could be getting from your workouts. This is called reaching a plateau. To avoid this, occasionally change your routine, the types of movement and amount of weight you use - as you get stronger - so that you will realize better results from your workout.