Fitness With Finesse: 5 Things You Should Be Using At The Gym

A trip to the gym is hard enough as it is with having to get up the motivation and finding time to go, but the dozens of different workout options make the trip even harder. Deciding which equipment to use can often be based on which ones you know how to use, which can limit how good of a workout you’re getting. Here are five things you should be using but maybe aren’t that will help you get a better, fuller workout in.

1. Rowing machine
You might have seen this machine sitting in the corner, but turned around and went back to the treadmill. Next time, head for it! The rowing machine will give you a good cardio workout and puts a little more strain on your muscles than running or using the elliptical. Sit down and strap your feet in, then bend your knees and roll forward to grab the bar. From that position, straighten your legs with your arms still straight, then pull the bar to your chest. Unbend your elbows, then bend your knees and roll forward again. Increase the resistance to make it a more difficult workout.

2. Pool
We’re all guilty of pounding our joints on a treadmill to get a cardio workout in, but swimming is a great alternative that isn’t harsh on your bones. While putting on a bathing suit and swimming might sound like more effort than just going on a run, there are four pools on UF’s campus that are easy to access. After your first swim you might feel extra sore, but don’t worry, your body will get used to the new muscle use.

3. Free weights
Free weights can be daunting, to say the least, but unlike machines you can work out the exact muscles you want and easily alter the motion to be more comfortable and effective for your body. Strength training can ultimately get your body to look exactly like you want, especially if your other workout routine isn’t quite getting you there. Be sure to read up on what positions and moves to use as a beginner.

4. Foam roller
After a long workout it’s important to stretch. Can I say that again? Always stretch! The foam roller is a great way to do that. Start in a side plant position with the foam roller under your hip. Put all your weight on it, then slowly inch forward so the roller moves along your thigh. When it hurts, stop and put all of your weight on that spot for 15 seconds. Yes, I know this is counterintuitive, but this is how you get the best possible stretch. Be sure to do both sides and you’ll feel loose and well stretched.

5. Stair stepper
This machine might be one you use often, but you may not be getting the full potential out of it. Start at a medium pace, where you’re comfortable but breathing a little hard. Turn slightly sideways and continue stepping, then do the other side. This will work out different parts of your muscles. Turn completely sideways and you’ll work out more muscles.

Simply adding these five new things will bring your workout to a whole new level. As you start working new muscles in different ways, you’ll see an almost immediate improvement. It’s important to mix up your routine, and with new machines and methods you have even more variety to choose from. Not only will new workouts improve your muscle tone and weight loss, but they’ll also give you something to look forward to!

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