By Molly Scott
Gym machines and equipment can be intimidating and confusing, even for a gym guru. Here are a few workout routines that utilize various machines and equipment to help you simplify and make your workout process more effective to get the results that you want. Even if you’ve been exercising for a while, these are still great options to vary up your routine.
Be sure to stretch your arms and legs before and after both cardio and strength training.
The elliptical is a great way to get your heart rate up, burn calories, and tone your legs. Start with ten minutes on the elliptical at resistance level 5. Try to push your legs faster as time goes by in order to elevate your heart rate. For new elliptical users, starting at level 5 for ten minutes should get you used to the feeling and rhythm of the elliptical; then, move onto 15 and 20-minute sessions. Also, you’ll want to increase the resistance level to about a 10 or higher (depending on how intense you want your workout) as you get more comfortable with the elliptical.
|If you’re up to it, some gyms also offer a great
opportunity to practice your coy face.
The treadmill is extremely versatile. You can power walk, jog, run, and even hike (using the incline setting). As a beginner you can start with ten minutes of power walking at 4.0-4.5 mph, or jog at 5.5-6.0 mph. You can also utilize the incline when power walking, which will get your heart pumping even faster. Jogging at a slower pace (5.5 mph) will also scorch calories and tone your legs. Once you’ve mastered these ten minutes, start using an interval training technique: jog at about 6.0 mph for about five minutes, then run for 6.5-7.0 mph for one minute. Five minutes later, increase speed again for one minute. Do this as many times as you can, fairly comfortably, but don’t be afraid to push yourself. If you can continue this routine for about 30 minutes, consider yourself a treadmill pro!
Other Cardio Equipment
Try using the rowing machine (great for the upper body), the stair-stepper, or any other piece of equipment you feel comfortable with. Ten minutes as a beginner on these machines is a good idea. After you feel confident on the machine, increase the time and intensity of the workout.
In order to have a full workout, it’s important not to forget to strengthen your arm and leg muscles. If you like simple, then using 8-pound dumb bells is a great for bicep curls and other arm routines. Doing pushups is also a simple, but effective, choice. To make push-ups easier, don’t hesitate to rest your knees on the floor first. When you’re ready, move up to your feet. Start with three sets of ten push-ups, and work your way towards more push-ups at a time when you’re ready. For a simple strengthening exercises for your legs and butt, squats and lunges are always great.
|WORK IT, mamacita!|
There are many other weight machines for arms and legs in the gym as well. Use whichever ones you feel comfortable with or the ones that will work the muscles you are looking to target. Almost every machine I’ve seen has directions for how to use it and what muscles the machine targets. Don’t worry if it takes you a second to figure out how to use a new machine—we’ve all been there.
Who doesn’t want a flat stomach? Work on your abdominal muscles by doing crunches. Personally, I find that sit-ups can be annoying and a strain on the neck, whereas crunches are very effective. You can vary the crunch up too. Try lifting your legs up (so your body is a 90 degree angle) to work lower abs. Also, if you want to work your side abs, try crunching to the right then the left, by bringing your elbow to your opposite knee. Most gyms also have strength machines for the abdominal muscles.
Remember to always stretch and drink lots of water after your workout, and have fun getting healthy and fit, you beautiful Barnard bears!
Molly Scott is a first-year at Barnard College and a staff writer for The Nine Ways of Knowing.