Whether you’re new to the gym, or you’re just expanding your routine, you need to know your equipment. You might get laughed at if you use equipment in the wrong way, but this is the least of your worries. If you try to use new equipment without knowing what you’re doing, you risk serious injury. The best way to make sure that you stay safe when working out, is to do your research beforehand, and don’t be afraid to ask somebody for help if you are unsure. Here is some basic advice on the most common equipment to get you started.
If you are focusing on strength training, then free weights will make up the majority of your equipment. The three main types of free weights are barbells, dumbbells, and weight plates.
The barbell is a long bar with weights on either end. You’ll mainly use it for bench pressing, squats, and deadlifting. The key to safely using a barbell is maintaining proper technique, and knowing your limits. If you try lifting weights that are out of your range, you could really hurt yourself.
When doing a bench press, make sure that you keep your back completely flat against the bench, and don’t try to curl it. Keep your elbows at a seventy-five degree angle, stretching them out to ninety degrees can cause serious shoulder pain.
The main thing to remember when doing a squat is keeping your spine in the right position. Your head should be pulled back slightly and your chest should be raised. You will feel a slight arch at the bottom of your back. Never lower your head forwards or hunch over. Always make sure your rack is set at the correct height so you can unload the bar safely if you need to.
Once you’re done with strength training, it's time for a bit of cardio. People often overlook safety when they are doing cardio. Just because you aren’t carrying a heavy weight, it doesn’t mean that you won’t hurt yourself.
Proper running technique on the treadmill is vital, otherwise you could risk serious damage to your joints. The first thing to consider is proper footwear. You need to make sure that you are wearing a good pair of running trainers, that offer enough support. A lot of people make the mistake of altering the way they run when they are on a treadmill. Make sure you are running as you naturally would outside. Avoid landing heel first, and keep your feet directly underneath your body, not stretched out in front of you. If you are unsure, have a look at a complete guide to treadmills for more information.
The piece of equipment that is used incorrectly most often is probably the exercise bike. People think that you can just jump on and ride. In fact, your positioning on the bike can have a big impact on the quality of the workout, and the risk of injury. Before you get on, adjust the seat so that your legs are completely straight when the pedal reaches the bottom. Then make sure that you are pushing the pedals with the balls of your feet. Finally, ensure that you are sitting up straight, bringing your stomach in. Never hunch over.
If you follow these steps, you will be able to avoid injury at the gym.