It is never too late of thinking fit so you can start your exercise or workout whenever you feel. In the beginning workout could be scary, visiting gym seems to be very threatening. In the first look of the gym, you might think what are these machines for? How do they work? But this is not that complicated. In this article I will try to help you explaining the gym equipments and how can you use them.
Equipments: You can find two types of equipment in the gym: free weights and machines. Now we will take a look on each of them and their associated products briefly.
Free Weights: A free weight is known as free weight as they are not attached to a weight lifting machine or they do not limit the range of motion. Free weights include barbells, dumbbells and weight plates.
- The Barbell: Barbell is important equipment in weight training, weightlifting and power lifting. It contains a long iron bar approx. in length from 4 feet to 8 feet on which weight plates are balanced on both the sides. You can execute this exercise by holding it with both the hands.
Firstly we will learn about Olympic barbell. It is 7 feet in length and weighs almost 45 lbs. These bars can hold heavy-duty bars with weight almost 800 lbs. Some Olympic bars can also hold approx. 1000 lbs. These heavy bars are use for exercises such as bench press, squats and dead lifts. Now here comes a smaller edition of Olympic barbell, they are 4-6 feet in length. As their name says so they are used for smaller exercises such as barbell curls, shoulder presses, bent rows etc.
Generally, gyms have a barbell rack that has a collection of fixed weight barbells. They have barbells from 20-100 lbs. in addition of 5-10 lbs. (i.e. 20 lb bar, 30 lb bar, 40 lb bar etc.).
Next is the standard barbells, these are the common barbells which are easily available. They are 1 inch thick and typically 5-6 feet long. These are the bars which you can use at home also.
- Dumbbells: Dumbbells are a short form of barbell, generally 10-15 inches in length. Exercises are performed by dumbbells by taking them in each hand. Almost every gym has a dumbbell rack which contains a combination of fixed weight dumbbells. Generally there are dumbbells from 5 lbs. – 100+ lbs. in addition of 5 lbs. (5 lb. dumbbells, 10 lb dumbbells, 15 lb dumbbells, etc.)
You can also see adjustable dumbbells that have small collars that have clips on the end of the dumbbells to clutch the weight plates. They are not as convenient as a weight rack but they are cheaper and consume less space.
- Weight Plates: Weight Plates vary from 2.5 lbs to 100 lbs. They are made of iron, some home gyms have plastic weight plates also. Usually bodybuilders know about York Plastic Barbell set. York set is fine with the beginners the thickness of the plastic plates restricts the number of the plates to be placed on the barbells and dumbbells. There are two types of weight plates available, Olympic plates for the Olympic barbells and standard plates for the standard barbells.
- EZ Curl Bar: This is used for biceps and triceps workout. EZ curl bar is shorter than barbell and has angled hand placements. This is beneficial for working on the muscles from different positions. It also reduces the stress which can be placed on wrists by straight barbell.
- Tricep Bar: This is unique oval shaped bar that contains two parallel hand placements. You can use tricep bar for exercising other body parts also other than triceps. Alike EZ curl bar Tricep bar can also be use to work the muscles from different positions. It also helps in reducing the stress which can be placed on wrists by straight barbell.
- Benches: Benches are the one of the most common equipment in the gym. There are three types of benches: flat, incline and decline. You can also see adjustable bench in the gym, these benches can be adjusted either to flat, incline or decline. Some benches include racks on one side for holding a barbell. The benches which do not include racks are generally used for dumbbell exercises.
- Hyper Extension Bench: These are special kind of bench to work on the lower back, hamstring and glute muscles. There are benches available for sit ups also to work the abdominals.
- Preacher Bench: These benches are designed for working on biceps. It has an angled pad, on which you can put your upper arms while workout. This pad helps you from swinging the weight so it is easy to segregate the biceps.
- The Arm Blaster: This is a 2 foot long, 6 inches wide flat, curved metal bar. It has a strap that goes behind your neck and hold the metal bar’s flat section on the middle. It works like preacher bench that allows you to segregate the biceps.
- Abdominal bench: As its name reflects, it is a decline bench use for abdominal exercises. It includes roller, in which you can hook your feet so you won’t slide off the bench.
- Stability Ball (Swiss Ball): Generally the exercises you perform on the bench would be able to do on this ball. It helps you in fulfilling the exercises like bench press, dumbbell flys, shoulder press, lateral raises, pullovers, crunches, reverse crunches etc. The movement and roll of the ball helps you increase your balance and strengthens the small stabilizer muscles.
- Dipping Bars: This is a combination of parallel bars used for dips. Dips are an excellent workout for chest, shoulders and triceps.
- Chin Up Bars: They are made of heavy metal, either they can be bolt to the wall or part of the exercise machine. It strengthens and develops shoulders, arms, back, abs, forearms etc.
- Racks: You can find variety of racks in the gym. You need racks for accumulating weight plates, barbells, dumbbells etc. There are some racks for workout also as the power rack or squat rack.
Machines: Machines are an easier way to workout. You can perform various numbers of exercises through machines. With the help of the machines either you can work on individual muscles or work on whole body together. The machines on which you can work on whole body are known as multi-station machines, these machines are less expensive. Multi-station machines are generally used in home gyms and they take up less space. Now we will learn about the different kind of machines.
- Leg Press Machine: As the bodybuilders who workout believes that squats are the best leg exercise. Leg Press is referred to be a great machine for leg exercise. Usually bodybuilders set this machine on a 45 degree angle and conveniently lift heavy weight without any fear of tripping or plunging. It helps in reducing stress on the lower back and knees than squats.
- Hack Squat Machine: This is a modified version of barbell squat. It is beneficial in developing the outer sweeps of the thighs.
- Leg Extension Machine: This is great for segregating the quadriceps muscles. You can also use this exercise for pre-exhausting your quadriceps and warming up your knee joints before going for any other exercise.
- Leg Curl Machine: Leg Curl Machine is amazingly used for hamstring exercises. You can also find leg extension and leg curl machine together in one machines in some gyms unlike home gyms.
- Calf Machines: There are two types of calf machines available in the market, standing calf machine and seated calf machine. The standing calf machine is good for the upper calf muscles (gastrocnemius) and the seated one is for the lower calf muscles (soleus).
- Leg Adduction/ Abduction Machine: As it name implies it is made for the inner thighs (adduction) and upper thighs (abduction). You can do both the exercises on one same machine or can have the two different machines for both of them.
- Lat Pull Down Machine: This machine will work as chin-up but as per the research bodybuilders believe chin-up are better than Lat pull Down. In some cases bodybuilders could not be able to lift their body weight so in these cases this machine is the best option.
- Pec Deck Machine: This is best machine for segregating the chest muscles (pectoral). You can see two types of peck deck machine one with the arm pads to place your arms on it and other with the handles to hold it during exercise.
- Cables and Pulleys: Almost in every gym you can see cable and pulley machines. It is a long cable with the weight stack on one end and a small handle at the end of the cable.
Accessories: There are several other important accessories in the gym apart from the free weights and machines.
- Gloves: These are used for safety and protection during the trainings. It is mainly beneficial for beginners as they are not used to of all this so they can easily get blisters.
- Wraps: Wraps are always available in the gym. Elbow, knee and wrist wraps are used for added support in case of injury or sore joints. Major use of wraps can weaken your joints as they are always being supported by the wraps so you should avoid wraps during trainings.
- Weightlifting Belt: It is used to provide support and protection to the lower back. You should wear the belt when needed, not always during the training. It is generally used while heavy squats, dead lifts, heavy rowing exercises etc.
- Head Harnesses: It is used to strengthen and define the muscles of the neck. This is made of leather or nylon like a strap that fits round the head and has an attachment for weights at the end. You can attach free weight up to 175 lbs.
- Chalk: Chalk is often used by the bodybuilders to dry the sweat on their hands.