Beginner’s Guide To Gym Equipment: Everything You Need To Know To Get Started At The Gym

How many times have you ‘started’ going to the gym?  How many New Year’s resolutions have you made to the same effect? You know you should be doing it – you want to be doing it, yet, you just don’t actually do it.

As beginners, we were all afraid of the gym. People looking at you, getting lost between the locker room and the gym floor, having to shower with other people around, and ultimately: we were all afraid of looking stupid and uninitiated among a bunch of fitness junkies who lift iron for a living.

First of all, let’s bust that ‘fitness junkie’ myth. The majority of people going to the gym actually have no real idea of what they are doing. They do their sets haphazardly, they have no plan, and all they know is they want to look (and feel) good, without any actual clue how to get there.

After reading this guide, you will instantly have an edge over all of them: you will know what each piece of gym equipment is, how to use it, which muscles it targets, and most importantly: how not to get injured.

Let’s jump right into the deep end of the pool, and teach you everything there is to know about all that ntaifitness gym equipment:

Squat rack

The squat rack (also known in the form of a power cage) is rightfully considered the king of all gym equipment.

If I told you it acts as a mechanical spotter for exercises with free weight barbells, you probably wouldn’t understand me, so let me put it in layman’s terms: it’s essentially a rack that will keep you from falling, dropping the barbell on your head or legs, and helping you achieve the right form.

Squats are some of the best exercises you can perform and are considered a standard in most routines. They can (and should) be modified to suit you, and the squat rack is an excellent tool to help beginners master the exercise.

Suggested exercises:
  • Barbell Back Squat
  • Barbell Deadlift
  • Number of reps: Do up to 5 sets of 8-12 reps each

Barbells

The barbell is essentially a bar you put weights on, to coin it in the simplest terms.

Barbells are a great tool for maximizing strength development, and in combination with dumbbells and cables, you can work your muscles more completely.

As with any other exercise, handling the barbell properly is very important. This means thumbs around the bar at all times.

Suggested exercises:
  • Squats
  • Bench Press
  • Deadlift
  • Bent-Over Rows
  • Overhead Shoulder Press
  • Number of reps: Do up to 5 sets of 8-12 reps each

Cables and pulleys

Essentially, any machine that has a cable and wheels falls into this category.

They work on your upper body and are a great way to do isolation exercises. As already mentioned, when complemented with barbells and dumbbells, they provide a full range of motion and keep your muscles entertained.

Suggested exercises:
  • Cable Flies
  • Triceps Extension
  • Chest isolation exercises
  • Bicep isolation exercises
  • Number of reps: Do up to 5 sets of 8-15 reps each

Dumbbells

Dumbbells are freestanding and easy to use weights – and essentially, a set of dumbbells is the only piece of gym equipment you actually need. They allow you to perform a complete workout without actually getting into or onto a machine.

As you work out more and more and build up your strength, you will naturally progress from lighter to heavier weights, which is why a set is recommended: no point in lifting the same weight over and over again.

Suggested exercises:
  • Dumbbell Bicep Curls
  • Overhead Press
  • Goblet Squat
  • Dumbbell Pullover
  • Number of reps: Do 3-4 sets, and keep your reps in the 12-20 range

Bench press

The bench press is the most powerful exercise you can do for chest development.

It is also among the most popular pieces of gym equipment around the globe, and you will often hear gym goers ask each other “how much do you bench?”. Not that it matters anyway.

As we keep repeating, proper form and executing movements correctly is paramount, as a mistake can cost you a shoulder, elbow, chest or wrist injury.

When starting out, make sure you only actually use the bar, and slowly add on the weight, up until you can’t do more than 8 reps. Don’t try to push yourself too much too soon, and let your body get familiar with the movement before you try to bench any serious weight.

Number of reps: Do up to 5 sets of 8-12 reps each

LAT machine

The LAT machine is a great way to work on your back, as it allows a wide range of movement, depending on the way you grab the bar, the bar you use and the placement of your hands on the bar, working on different areas of your back.

The LAT allows you to simulate a pull-up bar in a different setting, and provides much more control over each movement, making this the ideal machine for gym beginners.

Suggested exercises:

  • Wide-Grip LAT Pull-Down
  • Behind-the-Neck LAT Pull-Down
  • V-Bar Pull-Down
  • Reverse Close-Grip LAT Pull-Down
  • Number of reps: 3 sets of 8-12 reps for each

Final thoughts

Don’t be afraid to start working with any of these machines. If you start smart and low enough, allow your body enough time to get used to the movements, you will soon get the hang of them, and start seeing the benefits of your workout.

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