Developing an effective fitness routine starts with first knowing your body’s limits and identifying which works best for you. Do you enjoy high-intensity workouts that get your heart rate up and pumping? Do you want to build or tone muscle in certain areas? By recognizing which certain area you’re in the gym for, this makes it easier to pinpoint which pieces of equipment you’ll be frequenting. Although both types of exercise work hand-in-hand to prove the best results, it will be easier knowing which machine is which. We break this down into two categories: cardio equipment and strength training equipment. 


Cardio is a form of exercise to get your heart rate up. This is to ensure that your heart is able to endure more forms of movement with half the effort, meaning you don’t tire easily. This, in turn, can also lower your risk for cardiovascular related problems such as heart attacks, high-cholesterol, high blood pressure, and even diabetes. As an exercise, it is meant to help burn fats and calories and help you stay lean. 


A treadmill is a machine that is generally flat or sometimes inclined, almost like a ramp. It helps with walking, jogging or running at various speeds, inclines and intervals. Most treadmills are also able to keep track of how many miles you’ve ran, how many calories you’re burning per minute and can also monitor your heart rate which is essential to your training. You don’t want to push yourself too much when training for the first time. Running on these machines can also increase your endurance, making you run more miles at a faster speed. This is a great machine to shred some pounds. 


Elliptical trainers work in a somewhat similar manner to a treadmill. Such machines can have you stair climb, cycle, walk, or run. You can also change its speed, intensity and resistance. These were designed to cause less injury or stress to your joints: mainly the hips and knees and work great for the upper body as well. These make for a good workout but burn less calories because of the lower impact at 500-600 calories per hour at a speed that is above average.


Stationary bicycles look exactly how they sound: like a real bicycle without the wheels. They target the heart while building up the leg muscles. These are also effective machines to get in a good cardio workout, but they can be uncomfortable for long periods of working out. The average man may burn around 675 calories per hour on a moderate speed, and up to 1150 on a vigorous cycle such as spin classes. 


These machines mimic the appearance of actual stairs and help monitor how many flights of stairs you have climbed. It is a great device to get in that cardio while working your major lower body muscles because your glutes, hamstrings, quads and calves are all working. However, those with weaker knees must take caution in using such machines, or may have to stay away from it altogether as this can strain the joints even more. On average, 500-600 calories per hour are burned.


A rowing machine essentially gives you the work and feel of how it feels like to row a boat in the water. This simultaneously works the arms, legs and back, which makes for total body conditioning. It’s also a great way to condition the posterior chain. This machine and range of motions can help burn 800 calories up to 1000 calories, depending on how high of intensity one is going. 


Strength training helps to develop and tone different muscle groups, be it by using one’s own body weight, external weight or even gravity and building strength through these. This part of the gym is where you will find different kinds of weights and resistance equipment. 


Gyms have a variety of dumbbells available, the lightest being 2 pounds to 200 pounds. They come in a variety of sizes, shapes, and materials. Some gyms have plastic-coated colorful dumbbells with certain colors corresponding to their weight, while others may have straight metal ones. These can be used in many different kinds of arm workouts. Beginners should start with lighter weights and work their way up to heavier weighted dumbbells.


Barbells are exercise equipment used for weight training and weight lifting. Comprising of a barbell standard of 5 to 6 feet long and weigh between 15 to 20 pounds and weight plates that vary in weight. Different types of barbells are used in various settings, some common ones are the Olympic barbell, which is more commonly used for increased strength while squatting, deadlifting and bench pressing using both arms. Another common one is the EZ Curl Bar, which already comes with fixed weights and are significantly shorter than Olympic bars. These are meant for use with one arm at a time, doing exercises geared towards the biceps and triceps like bicep curls and triceps extensions. 


These are weighted balls that come in different weights. While these balls were originally used for rehabilitation of injuries, they have found their way to the gym. They are used for a variety of different exercises, the most common being wall slams by throwing it. You can also catch them, lift them or use them for balance. They can help strengthen lower-body muscles like hamstrings and glutes. You can use these doing lunges with chest twists to add to the challenge, or you can also use them for core work to build the abs. 


Resistance bands and tubes basically look like oversized rubber bands and are used for a multitude of exercises similar to weight training. They can be used wrapped around above the ankles or around the thighs while doing exercises such as squats or donkey kicks to build up muscles in the glutes. Although they prove effective for lower-body workouts, they can also help in toning the arms and work somewhat similarly to lifting weights. 


Training benches are not only used for resting, in fact they can be used in many different exercises. They are used for the likes of weightlifting and even body weight exercises such as triceps dips. 


Gym equipment can be overwhelming for a first timer but over time you will learn to familiarize yourself with them, and there will always be someone around to help. 

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