Gym rookies are often intimidated by the sheer number of machines and equipment in a new fitness facility. Every year, companies come out with new technology and machines that the average person does not recognize. Identifying the equipment and what it is used for is the first step toward getting the best possible workout from your gym or fitness facility.
Benches are used in several different ways. When flat, they provide a stable surface for sitting or lying on. One of the most popular weight-lifting techniques, the bench press, gets it name from lying on a bench and pressing, or lifting weight above the chest. When inclined or declined, benches are great for sit-ups and crunches.
Dumbbells are found in nearly every gym or fitness facility. They are identified by their variety of weight sizes and easy-to-grip handles. Similar to dumbbells are barbells, which have removable weight plates that attach to handles of various lengths. Dumbbells are distinguished from barbells because the weight is integrated into the handle.
Yoga balls are not just for yoga purposes, capable of use for a variety of isometric exercises. Yoga balls come in a variety of sizes. In general, smaller balls make for harder workouts. Some gyms have a piece of equipment that resembles a yoga ball cut in half and attached to a board. These are referred to as balance boards, or BOSU balls. Balance boards are useful for balancing and isometric exercises.
Weight machines make up the floor space of most gyms and fitness centers. Most weight machines utilize weight plates and cable pulleys to guide movements in specified directions. Most weight machines are designed for a specific exercise, like the lat pull down machine, which works the shoulder and back muscles.
Resistance bands are excellent for versatile, high-repetition exercises. Resistance bands will often feature a variety of colors, each color referring to a different resistance strength. Resistance bands are often used in physical therapy exercises because they provide low-impact exercises that are good for rebuilding muscles. Resistance bands are also an inexpensive way to do strength training at home.
Elliptical machines are in between a treadmill and a stationary bicycle. They require the user to stand up while her feet move in an elliptical motion versus the circular path of a standard bicycle. Elliptical trainers provide the same cardiovascular benefits of running on a treadmill but without the impact that running causes.