Exercise equipment is any apparatus or device used during physical activity to enhance the strength or conditioning effects of that exercise by providing either fixed or adjustable amounts of resistance, or to otherwise enhance the experience or outcome of an exercise routine.
When we go to a gym or a fitness center there are number of exercise machines that can be used for weight management or body building. Some of the machines are even available on online store or fitness stores where they can be bought for the home use. Firstly we describe the machines that are known as Cardio or Cardiovascular machines. Later we describe the machines that are mainly used for strength development. A few are described here:
Cardio or Cardiovascular machines
From amongst the various cardiovascular exercise machines, the treadmill burns the most calories. Walking briskly (or running) you can expect to burn about 100 calories per mile. By increasing the speed from walking to running or by adjusting the incline treadmill can be adapted to many fitness levels.
For someone who is overweight or is having a joint pain even walking may be too much of an exercise to do. Every time your foot hits the ground the impact forces are 3.7 times your weight just walking on the planet. The impact in treadmill may be slightly less than that as it is moving under you. Choose another machine if it doesn’t feel right, particularly on your knees or lower back.
One more thing to keep in mind: treadmills can pose a real balance challenge for new exercisers or those who haven’t worked out in a while. But people do adjust on it after some time.
Elliptical machines and stair steppers
These machines can be a good alternative to the treadmill and also put little less pressure on the joints. As you use them in a standing position you use a lot of muscle mass, so the calories burn rate is still pretty high.
Elliptical machines with arm components can further increase the number calories that you burn. But as a beginner the use of arms are not recommended at first.
Generally the experts agree that of all the cardiovascular machines the stationary bike offers the workout with least impact on the joints. Since the impact of body weight is not a concern on these bikes as it is on a treadmill, elliptical trainer or stair stepper, people with knee pain are often steered towards these bikes. But it must be made sure that the bike is adjusted to fit your body so that the knee pain can be avoided.
As mentioned by some of the experts, nine times out of ten, people get on a bike and are not fitted to the bike. When adjusting the seat height it should be made sure that when you are sitting on the seat with the ball of your foot on the pedal, there is a very slight (5 to 10 degree) bend in your knee.
It could mean that the knees flex too much as they pedal if you sit too low, as most people are prone to do it. It can result in soreness and also can put too much pressure on the knee. This could lead to burning of fewer calories as you won’t allow the leg to go through a full range of motion.
Usually a person needs to pedal four miles to burn 100 calories. The stationary bike is a less intense calorie-burner than some of the other cardio machines like treadmill.
Nowadays a variant of stationary bike – turbo cycle is also available; where you use your hands along with the pedals to exercise.
Rowers are more advanced cardiovascular machines. People shouldn’t be fooled into thinking that these machines give only an upper-body workout.
Rowers require coordination as must push with the legs while you pull with your arms. These machines also require you to engage your core abdominal muscles to support and protect your back. Rowers burn lots of calories as they use so many muscle groups. For a beginner or unfit exerciser, these machines have several red flags.
These machines also increase your overall stamina and endurance capacity.
Thus we had a glimpse of some of the mainly used cardiovascular machines that can be used for slimming and weight management. Now we will see the machines that can be used for strength building.
Strength or bodybuilding machines
Exercise machines are easier to use once you understand the names often reflect the equipment function. Most have names with words like “press,” “curl” and “pull.” Others describe the position you need to be in to perform an exercise, or they identify the muscle group the machine works. There are numerous exercise machines but only a few have been generalized and are mentioned here.
The bench press exercises the chest or pectoral muscles. It also works the triceps or small muscles in the upper back of the arm and shoulders. Bench machines come in many forms. You may find a seated bench press where you can sit upright, or a supine bench press, which means you use it face-up. The decline places your feet in a position higher than your head. The incline bench has you sitting at a slight angle facing upright so you can work the upper and lower pectoral muscles.
This machine provides many of the same benefits a traditional squat might, but this one doesn’t demand you hold a barbell across your back. That’s a safety risk since it places unnecessary pressure on your spine. Novice users may find the machine easier to use and safer than traditional squats because there’s less room for error. It also allows you to perform squats using more of the quadriceps or muscles in the front of the leg. Traditional squats engage more of the hamstrings, glutes and quadriceps.
The lateral (or lat) pull-down works the latissimus dorsi muscles, which run along the side of the back. You have to pull the bar down in front of your head to your collarbone, and not in back of your head. That could bring on shoulder impingement syndrome.
Seated hip abductor
The Hip Abductor works the thighs and glutes without placing pressure on the spine. You can also perform it while standing. You have to loop a resistance band around both legs below the knees, then take small steps. Go to the left 20 feet, and then side-step back to the right for 20 feet.
Hyper extension bench
This bench works the lower back, hamstrings and glutes. You can also do sit-ups on it to work your abdominals. To increase resistance, you can hold a weight in your arms or hands while performing on the bench.
Leg press machine
The leg press machine is set at a 45 degree angle. It allows you to lift weights at a healthy and safe level without having to worry about them falling on you. It also places less stress on your back and knees than you’d have with traditional barbell or free weights. You can use the leg press for both legs or one leg at a time.
The leg extension is good for isolating and strengthening the quadriceps muscles. It’s a safe and effective machine to warm up the knee joints before you move on to challenging exercises such as the leg press or squat machines.
Many machines work several muscles like the hamstrings, quadriceps, calves and glutes. The leg curl machine is what you want if you’re isolating the hamstring muscles. Some gyms combine the leg press and leg curl. You can also warm up the hamstrings using a leg curl machine before moving on to more challenging exercises.