Learn about the best equipment to use to get the most out of your time spent in the gym.
Too many times when we step into the gym we aren't sure what we want to do that day and therefore what equipment we are going to use. Many times this leads to wandering around the gym aimlessly, searching exercises on our phones, or using the most popular pieces of equipment we see others using day in and day out. The downside to this is that often times we are not maximizing our time in the gym. This article is going to lay a foundation for the best gym equipment to get the most out of your time spent in the gym.
Barbells, Dumbbells, and Weight Mates:
If you aren't using these gems in the gym on a consistent basis than you are not getting the most out of your training. These weights can be used in any program to perform an exercise for every major muscle group in your body. Since these pieces of equipment are not attached to pulleys and cables or supported by a seat and metal framing, our bodies must perform all the work, making them ideal for building and strengthening the most muscle in the shortest amount of time. Just picking these up out of the rack requires you to use stabilizing muscles to stay upright, forcing your core to tighten.
Another advantage of barbells is the amount of weight you are able to add to the bar. Often times it is optimal to increase the minimal amount of weight possible in your next training session; barbells allow this to be possible. Compare this to the predetermined weight stack on many machines and the advantage is obvious. On the other end of the spectrum, we are also able to add as much weight as we want to a barbell; that is till you run out of plates! Again, with many machines, we are limited. This is where barbells have an advantage over dumbbells; since most facilities only have dumbbells in increments of 5 pounds, we must attempt to increase our weight 10 pounds at a time. Fortunately, the WellAware center provides us with 1.25 pound "Weight Mates". These magnetic weights attach to the metal dumbbells at WellAware and can allow us to progress at a slower, more optimal rate.
Although the SQUAT rack should mostly be used for an obvious exercise, it is one of the most versatile pieces of equipment available. The Squat Rack at the WellAware center has pull-up handles and adjustable safety bars making it one of the most efficient pieces of equipment. Simply by adjusting the location of the safety bars, we are able to perform disaster-free squats, rack pulls, bench press, and overhead pressing. The different handles for pull-up bars allow us to target different muscles groups for pull ups and core as well. If you are unable to perform a standard pull up, no worries! We can attach bands to handles in order to support some weight for pull-ups and still get the same benefits. Hanging Leg raises are one of the toughest core exercises and can be performed from the pull-up handles as well.
Suspension Training and Rogue Cage:
The TRX handles and Olympic rings hanging from the Rogue Cage at the WellAware center are referred to as suspension training equipment because we train our bodies while we hang or "suspend" from them. Suspension training requires you to control your own body weight while performing exercises. For most of us, this is an optimal because it is safer and more efficient to control your own body weight than starting with an unfamiliar, external load. Suspension training can be applied to beginner and elite athletes because we can start with very basic movements that make our body weight much easier to handle and then manipulate those same movements to make even the strongest person shake under their own weight. For example, a push-up with the rings at a 45 degree angle and feet planted on the ground is a challenging exercise for beginners. But turn those push-ups into a "dip" with the feet off the ground, pushing off of unstable handles and the same muscle groups are now overloaded two fold.
The Rogue Cage is also a very versatile piece of equipment for challenging exercises. It is the foundation for the suspension training we just discussed, as well as an alternative to the squat rack. There are hundreds of holes in the framing of the Rogue cage that we can use for adjusting the racks. Squats, rack pulls, bench pressing, and overhead pressing can be performed by adjusting the racks just like you would adjust the safety bars in the squat rack.
Now that you have a list of some of the most efficient pieces of equipment in the gym, try to incorporate them into your training program. Remember, getting the most "bang for your buck" out of your exercises and making them challenging and fun will get you the best results. So, if you need some new excitement in your routine, try some of these out!