The gym can be an intimidating place, especially when faced with a sea of machines and little understanding of what to do with them. While not all exercise machines are created equal, choosing the correct ones adds a level on safety and convenience to your workout. With regular strength and cardio training, you’ll bump up your metabolism along with your mood.
Peek into any gym, and you’ll probably see a few beefy men squatting with a loaded barbell slung across their shoulders. The smith machine, a large rectangular frame with a barbell running vertically along a track, makes the resistance exercises traditionally performed with a barbell safer and more accessible for beginning weight lifters. Boost your bust by performing a bench press with the smith machine, or work on sculpting your legs with squats or lunges.
The cable tower may well be the most versatile machine available at any gym. Each of the two weight towers contains a pulley system that moves up and down a track with a series of detachable handles to accommodate a variety of exercises. The machine gives you nearly a full range of motion to work nearly any muscle group in your body quickly, so you’ll spend less time at the gym and more time with your family. Perform biceps curls or rows with the handle set near the bottom of the tower, or move the handle to the top to work your triceps and shoulders with pull-downs.
According to the Indiana University School of Medicine, rowers tend to have the biggest hearts and muscles and the densest bones of any athletes. The often overlooked stationary rower may look like another cardio machine, but it doubles as an upper and lower body strength workout. The movements are low impact and easy on your joints, and most models are compact enough to tuck away in your closet for a home workout solution.
If you suffer from joint or lower back pain, or are simply new to the fitness world, the stationary recumbent bike gives your heart a workout without jarring your knees. Unlike upright stationary bikes, the recumbent models support your lower back and tend to be more comfortable for longer periods of time. As your fitness level improves, you’ll be able to keep up with the kids as you bike around town together.