We all know that working out can be intimidating, especially when you have no idea what you're doing.
Body weight exercises are confusing enough, not to mention those huge hunks of metal that people call gym equipment.
Well, fear no more because we're about to break down every piece of gym equipment known to man so you can bust yourself into shape like a boss.
You Go-Getter, You
First off, congratulations on taking the first step to getting swole, as the kids call it nowadays.
It's easier than ever to binge-watch every season of SVU, or The Price is Right until our eyes fall out, but nope you've beaten the odds and made the decision to get off the couch, shake off that delicious Dorito dust, and begin your fitness journey!
Kudos to you, friend.
It's important to realize that the only true way for you to feel at home at the gym is to actually go to the gym.
Once you've learned all you need to know from this run down, you've gotta lace up those crisp tennis shoes you bought in 2014 and go throw some weights around. Deal?
The Bad Boys Of Cardio
First off, cardio sucks.
No one needs to sit here and lie about how fantastic and fun running or climbing stairs is, because it really isn't.
But it sure as hell is a lot less torture and a little more enjoyable when you get used to controlling your breathing and resisting panting like a hyena.
Also, this type of gym equipment is the most straightforward to use.
Nothing compares to the workout that you get when you're battling a relentless Stair Master. It's just you, your wobbly knees, and a killer playlist that can help you drive those knees high and not give up the fight.
The Stair Master is notorious for being the most dreaded of gym equipment. Sure, we would rather take the elevator up to the second floor instead of facing 15 individual steps. Sure, even the most in-shape person is winded after a few flights of stairs.
Yes, you will feel winded almost the entire time you're on the Stair Master, and honestly, you may feel like you're losing the battle, but you're #winning the war.
You're the Master of the Stairs
Don't let this machine intimidate you. At the end of the day, we all know how to climb stairs, some of us do it every day, while others only have to fight that uphill battle once in a while.
Whatever your circumstance, we've all got the power to conquer the stairs, so don't get too caught up in the exercise of it all. Stand tall, move your arms, and put as much of your foot as possible on each step!
Out of every cardio machine, the treadmill seems to be talked about a lot. That's because when people think about cardio, they think "running. Well, they're not wrong, the treadmill can be either the bain of your existence or a catapult to being heart healthy and confident with your fitness.
Ah yes, the treadmill. Yep, you read that right. People avoid the treadmill because it's intimidating at first. Alas, just as how all humans are unique, so is every treadmill.
Different Treadmills, Still a Killer Workout
Still, the most common treadmills are those that have the curved running surface and those that are flat. First off, it's important to realize that when you're running on the treadmill, you need to set your incline to 1%.
Contrary to popular belief, treadmills are actually built a decline, so bringing that incline up to a 1% ensures you're running on a truly flat surface.
The curved surface treadmills are generally used for sprints, and something you definitely want to make sure you're comfortable with before going too fast. Of the treadmills that are built with a flat running surface, one takes the crown above the rest.
The Life Fitness treadmill is a crowd favorite for a slew of reasons:
Okay, I know what you're thinking- this treadmill can't be real. But it is, tried and true, one of the best out there.
Many other treadmills don't average your mile time, show you videos of parks, or accurately sync information to your smartwatch.
In the age of technology, this treadmill truly helps make running easier and takes a little pressure off of the newbies.
The Hunt is On
Unfortunately, it's hard to track down exactly where one might purchase a reliable one of those bad boys, so for now, we linked a more affordable, and equally tech-savvy treadmill for you to bring into your own home.
If running isn't really your style, you should definitely give the elliptical a try. The machine itself looks like it would be confusing to use, but it's extremely simple. Hop on, start pedaling, and you're off to the races!
The elliptical is hands down THE most versatile of the “bad boys of cardio.” They give you the option of choosing the resistance that you'd like to combat, enabling you to torch tons of calories a minute.
Bad Knees? This is the Bee's Knees
Ellipticals are also super low impact, so if you have bad knees, this might be a better idea than the traditional run on a treadmill.
There are also options to spin the pedals both forward and backwards to target certain muscles in your legs while still getting a true cardiovascular workout.
We gave the stationary bike a spin and had a great time.
This machine almost brings back some nostalgia because having a bike, and being able to go out and enjoy bike rides, is somewhat of a luxury nowadays (RIP to all the childhood bicycles sold at garage sales without explicit permission from the child).
When people think of the bikes at a gym, they often think of 100 sweat-coated stationary bikes crammed together in a mirror-lined room, manned by soccer moms and sorority girls, pedaling away to blaring pop music.
That's a pretty inviting picture, huh? Yeah, we don't think so either. In reality, stationary bikes are fairly versatile machines.
Winter, Spring, Fall, Bike Through it All
One of the perks of stationary bikes is sweet, sweet location—indoor and air-conditioned.
On top of this, the bike offers the option to both stand up and sit down, making it very easy to transition from a leisurely ride to an all-out, screaming, uphill sprint in your own Tour de France. (We don't suggest screaming, as it can draw some concerned attention, but sometimes you've gotta do what you've gotta do.)
Ultimately, stationary bikes are a great option for anyone who wants to sit down while still getting their heart pumping.
This is another machine that requires you set a resistance, much like shifting gears on an actual bike, but this makes for a truly customizable workout.
You can even watch Netflix while getting your cardio in. Imagine if every time you watched Netflix you were doing cardio; We don't know about you, but that'd basically make us Lance Armstrong.
Another piece of cardio equipment that is often forgotten is the rowing machine. Not all gyms have a rowing machine, which could be why it is not widely known or used.
However, this machine affords you to get a stellar full-body workout while sitting down.The rowing machine is another low impact type of cardio machine that is still a full body workout.
The motion of rowing, like you would perform if you were on the rowing team or “crew,” is condensed into a neat machine that will let you reap all the benefits without stepping foot on the water.
Hittin' All the Right Muscles
This machine works your arms, shoulders, legs, core, and gives you a nice little cardio workout. And by “nice little cardio workout,” we mean it's actually pretty hard and not that fun.
But there's good news! Rowing workouts are usually short intervals, repeated until your heart's content. So, while it may be hard, you have plenty of breathers.
Plus, many row machines include games to make the experience more fun, which makes your workout even more interactive and breaks up the monotony. (This is probably because even the makers of the row machines can't deny rowing sucks sometimes.)
There's a lot of huge gym equipment out there that looks pretty intimidating, but this is mainly because these machines are made to be versatile.
When you, the newbie in the gym, are left to decide exactly what to use the equipment for, it's easier to stick to a less intimidating machine you already know how to use or just walk out of the gym.
But, before you decide you've learned all you want to learn from this article, wait! You might be missing out on the one thing you needed to step your gym game up to a whole new level.
Well-rounded workouts are often the best way to maintain interest in working out, spicing things up and working different muscle groups.
The Legend, The Myth, The Smith Machine
The Smith Machine looks a little daunting at first, but its main purpose is to help you get in a good squat or bench press, letting those buns and guns do the heavy lifting without the pressing concern (yes, pun intended) of being crushed under the weight.
Always Supporting You
If you ever need something to hold you up, look no further than the Smith machine. It's all metal, built to last and gives you the sense of security you need when you're performing exercises with a heavy barbell.
Overall, you're doing most of the heavy lifting, and it's just there to give out the support you need, kind of like a loving mother or your own personal cheerleader.
This machine is a built-in spotter, so you can feel safe knowing that you're doing the exercises with a little less risk involved. Disclaimer though- form will always be an important aspect in working out, even with your built-in spotter.
All-in-One Total Body Workout Equipment
The steel frame in this all-in-one workout equipment ensures that it is meant to last. Every piece of equipment is made to take a beating and will last for years to come.
Donned with a wide array of pulley systems, barbells, weight plates, grip attachments, and even a free weight rack, this is the big boy in the gym.
Without the proper knowledge of what this steel framed equipment can do, one can be overwhelmed by the sheer possibilities and head for the hills.
Arms-Ageddon Serious In Here
Most of the gym equipment that is geared towards working out your arms can be replaced with dumbbells (a.k.a. free weights or barbells), which is great for those times when every single arm machine seems to be occupied by buff, grunting, frat guys who do arm day every day.
However, using these machines does tend to help you keep your form, which makes replacing these machine workouts with barbells easier because you'll know what the workout should feel like.
There are machines like the chest press, bicep curl, row machine, and lat pulldown machine. These machines are perfect for ensuring that you isolate whatever targeted muscle group that you would like to work out, as opposed to dumbbells, which can easily be misused due to their free range of motion and lack of stability.
Chest Press, Less Stress
The chest press is one of the more widely known exercises to perform. This is probably because every movie about a high school football team or champion boxer seems to include this exercise in the plan to getting ripped.
One crowd favorite is the sitting chest press because it gets rid of the intimidating barbell and replaces it with handles that are attached to a weight pulley system.
This weight pulley system has a range of weights from 10 pounds all the way up to 200 pounds attached to each arm, which means that in total one can chest press 400 pounds if they would like to.
This gym equipment targets the pectoral and the bicep muscles while allowing you to sit down and really focus on exactly what you would like to work out.
Get Low and Let Row
Utilizing the seated row machine, instead of avoiding it because it seems a little scary, is definitely a good move. It will help you gain stability in your abs and can even target your back muscles.
The seated row machine is a popular work out that also targets not only the biceps but also the triceps due to the pulling motion that is required to operate it.
Let's Build Some Phat Lats (Lat Pulldown Machine)
A hidden gem in the gym is the lat pulldown machine. Using this machine can help you take the first steps towards building strength to do wide armed pull-ups, and helps both your biceps and your back get toned.
The lat pulldown machine helps work on the shoulders, which a lot of people have trouble working out because they don't know what exercises to perform.
All of these machines that target the arms are helpful pieces of machinery because they allow the user to determine exactly what weight they would like.
They also allow you to choose between weights that increase by 15-pound increments instead of having to put two dumbbells back every single time you pick up the wrong weights.
Curls for the Girls (Guys too!)
Sometimes free weights give you too much freedom to decide how to use them, and this is where the bicep curl machine steps in to tell you exactly what to work out and how.
The bicep curl machine is a beneficial piece of gym equipment because it forces you to isolate your bicep muscles, as opposed to when you do a bicep curl on your own.
Free weight bicep curls give you free range of motion to not necessarily isolate the biceps.
This can be due to lack of proper form or using the incorrect weights.
Don't Be Scared to Go Low and Slow
All of the gym equipment that comes with weights attached can be wholly intimidating, but you'll look like a friggin' badass when you master the techniques and kick fear to the curb.
Starting off at low weights and increasing the weight by 5-pound increments is a good way to gauge exactly where your strength lies and to push yourself in a safe manner.
Remember, going to the gym can actually be fun when you start to see those gains.
Tomatoes, Tomatoes - Just Go Get Fit
Like we said, any of these exercises can be replaced by dumbbells or barbells, but at the end of the day if you're a newbie it might be safer to use the machines because they force you to practice proper form as well as giving you the versatility of choosing weights in smaller increments. These are also just totally convenient.
Why make going to the gym any more complicated than it has to be?
Leg Day Is Every Day
Actually, you really shouldn't work out any one muscle group every day, but you kind of need your legs to get around so don't go askin' us too many questions.
All in all though, the most intimidating of gym equipment has to be the leg machines. If you get past the stigma, however, these artfully crafted pieces of machinery can have those glutes, hammies, quads, and calf muscles poppin'.
There's everything from the leg press, the leg curl, the leg extension, and a whole slew of squat machines that are totally awesome. As long as you use them correctly, you diminish your chance of injury as well as increasing your confidence and your strength.
Squat it Like it's Hot
The Squat machine is the holy Mecca for girls in their 20's and have become a seemingly hot spot on college campuses. They offer you the ability to customize your squat weight, as well as fully isolating your glutes and your quads to skyrocket your strength.
So Many Options!
There are multiple squat machines like the free motion squat machine and the standing-up squat machine that also help you perform your weighted squats without having to use a barbell, especially if one isn't available to you.
Here's a quick run-down of how to use a few of our favorite machines:
These also have the ability to increase your weight by various increments, to really test your limits. You can safely test yourself by adding 5 to 10-pound weight increments after a few reps.
Leg Press, Building a Bad Ass (Or a Good Ass Depending on How You Look at it)
The heavens must have opened up and dropped this amazing machine from the sky because the leg press 10/10 one of the most popular machines in the gym. We've waited hours before one opened up and, honestly, it's totally worth it.
Don't assume your capabilities when it comes to the leg press, especially if you aren't used to using the proper form.
It's really important to not overextend or lock your knees, just for safety purposes, because the weight can easily come back down and cause injury.
So, when using gym equipment like the leg press, it's super important to focus on form and safety.
There are three notable pieces of equipment that are specifically geared towards working out the abs.
There's the ab crunch machine, the rotating ab flex, and a stand-alone device that allows you to either do hanging ab workouts or propping yourself up on your elbows to do ab workouts.
Easy Peasy, Give Those Obliques a Squeezy
These particular pieces of gym equipment are relatively easy and straightforward to use. They can also help catapult you into getting that six or eight pack that you always desired (and I'm not talking about beer).
They bring variety to the bland sit-ups and crunches that we're used to; they are less impact on your back and neck, as well as they provide a little bit more resistance by adding weight so that you can push your abs to the next level.
And who the hell doesn't want a rockin' bod to match their rockin' personality?
Do You Even Bench, Bro?
Last but certainly not least, and arguably one of the most versatile pieces of gym equipment that you will ever encounter is the bench.
You can use it for basically anything from bent over rows, chest presses, bicep curls, step ups, seated v leg lifts, normal leg lifts, or just to sit your butt down after you've done a kick-ass workout.
The bench is one of the most underappreciated, widely used pieces of gym equipment that you'll find. It's reliable, sturdy (hopefully), and simple to utilize.
What Can't It Do?
It offers you the option to adjust the back and the seat in order to fully maximize your work out.
There are also options to have your bench set at an incline so that you can work out your abs by doing sit-ups and on an incline.
You can also use the bench for tricep dips and a whole slew of other workouts.
Overall, if you're looking for a straight-up rock star to hold you up while you're feeling down (or hitting a couple dips), your best bet would be to get a bench press because they're just so many ways to use it.
It may seem like the bench is one of the most boring pieces of gym equipment, but it is a hidden gem in a sea of hunks of metal and sweaty teenage boys.
So, if you wanna get one piece of equipment that won't let you down, it is absolutely a bench. You can work out literally every single part of your body using a bench, and call it a day.
You're Finally Ready To Crush That Workout!
After Go all is said and done, just knowing the ins and outs of each piece of gym equipment allows you to be light years ahead of the other newbies around.
You can walk into the gym with confidence knowing that you at least know the concept of how to use each piece of equipment and can start your journey to becoming the fit God that you deserve to be.
Go Ahead and Make that Gym Equipment Bow Down
Now, do you remember our deal? Because we gave you all the information, so now you gotta lace up those sneakers and go hit that cardio machine. Show those “bad boys of cardio” who really is the baddest around (hint hint it's you).
Aim for that summer bod, because honestly, summer is way closer than you think it is. Don't wait till tomorrow, go today! This is the time to be your fit of self; your body will thank you.