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August 8, 2023

The ultimate gym equipment guide for beginners: ‘It can be really intimidating’

Filed under: Fitness — Tags: — admin @ 11:08 am

Stepping into a gym for the first time as a beginner can be a little overwhelming. The endless rows of equipment can make it difficult to know where to start.

A survey commissioned by Kic found that over half of us have experienced gym anxiety in our lifetimes and three in five of us have felt self-conscious.

“The gym can be really intimidating. I’ve been there, I totally get it,” Kic co-founder Steph Claire Smith tells 9Honey Coach.

“Remember it’s also OK to ask for help! Whether that’s from someone who works at the gym, or just someone who looks like they’ve been there 100 times before – it was always someone’s first time in the gym, and more often than not people are more than happy to help you out.”

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The endless rows of equipment can make it difficult to know where to start.

If you’re thinking about starting your gym era, but you’re not sure where to begin, Kic’s head trainer Danny Kennedy has shared his tips with 9Honey Coach on the best gym equipment for beginners.

First up, grab yourself some dumbbells and a bench 

“Dumbbells are readily available at the gym and a great place to start. You can literally target your whole body with a pair of dumbbells through exercises like squats, lunges, chest press, rows, bicep curls, deadlifts and Russian twists. Start with a set of light weights and higher reps to safely build up your strength before you opt for heavier weights.

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steph claire smith
You can target your whole body with a pair of dumbbells. (Supplied)

Squat hack 

“When it comes to squats, the barbell will soon be your new bestie. The bar itself is 20 kilograms, so remember this before you stack on weights. Squatting with a barbell requires core strength, balance and coordination.

If you’re new to the gym, before you take on the barbell you could start building up your lower body strength with the squat hack machine, which provides a guided-squat movement or better yet, learn the squat movement pattern through your body weight and then dumbbell front squat options before graduating to the barbell. 

Person about to lift weights at the gym
Before you grab a barbell make sure you have your form right, (Getty Images/iStockphoto)

Assisted chin up machine 

“Pull ups and chin ups aren’t just for gym buffs. The assisted chin up machine is perfect for beginners as it reduces the weight of your body, making it easier to perform the movement. Hot tip: the higher the weight, the more assistance you’ll get during exercise. Remember to focus on your form and avoid using excessive momentum to get the most out of the exercise. 

Resistance bands

“Resistance bands are also great for chin ups and pull ups. Loop the band over the pull-up bar and place your knees or feet into the loop. As you start the chin-up motion, the band will help counterbalance your body weight, so you’re able to perform more reps. Like the assisted machine, heavier bands provide more assistance, while lighter bands offer less support. 

We use a lot of resistance bands in the Lift program, they help create tension through the movement to really fire up your traditional strength training exercises like squats, lunges, bicep curls and shoulder presses etc. 

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steph claire smith and kic personal trainer danny
Steph Claire Smith and Kic head trainer Danny are keen to get you into the gym. (Supplied)

Cable Machine 

“Cable machines are great for beginners because they help work your muscles in a really controlled way, allowing you to practice your form and technique,” Danny says.

“It comes with quite a few attachments which can seem a little overwhelming, but I encourage you to give it a go. It’s probably the most versatile machine in the gym so, once you get the hang of it you’ll have the confidence to work your entire body.”

Here’s a breakdown of the exercises & muscles you can target with each attachment: 

  • D-Handle (a ‘D’ shaped handle, as the name suggests) – This guy is used for various pushing and pulling exercises such as cable rows, pallof press, single arm overhead press to name a few.
  • Lat Pulldown Bar (a straight bar with both ends on a slant) – Targeting your lats, this is one of the most common attachments you will see at the gym already setup for you. Think lat pulldowns (wide, neutral and narrow)
  • Tricep Rope (a rope with two ends and sort of looks like a horse shoe!) – One of the most comfortable attachments, the tricep rope can often be used for pushdowns, face pulls and overhead tricep extensions.
  • V-Handle (looks like a triangle or a pyramid) – Used with both hands, this one is highly effective for exercises targeting pulldowns, rows and face pulls.
  • Curl Bar (looks like a ‘w’) – Your bis & tris are going to love the curl bar. If you’re not feeling like using dumbbells or a barbell, this is a great alternative.
  • Ankle Straps (aka ‘Ankle Cuffs’) – Simply wrap these around one ankle and work one leg at a time. Working on the lower body, think cable kickbacks, leg extensions and hamstring curls.
Laura Micetich transformed her body through fitness and diet.
The cable machine comes with quite a few attachments which can seem a little overwhelming. (Instagram/theirongiantess)

Treadmill 

“The most important thing is that you find a movement that you enjoy. I see so many people come to the gym and run on the treadmill for 30 minutes because that’s what they think they ‘need’ to do.

Going to the gym shouldn’t be boring. Instead, you could try a strength session and then finish with a 10-minute treadmill run – the perfect way to leave the gym on a runner’s high!”

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