Gym Exercise Equipment You Should Be Using

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There are many different types of gym equipment designed to work out everything from individual muscle groups to your whole body. If you belong to a gym, or if you are thinking about joining a gym to get in shape, make sure that there are qualified personal trainers on staff. Get a complete check up from your doctor before beginning a new exercise program. 

Cable resistance exercise machines can help you tone and strengthen upper and lower body muscle groups. Cable machines maintain a constant resistance that your legs or arms work against. Cable machines can be adjusted by resistance and the muscle group you want to work. You can perform many different types of exercises on one of these machines, including shoulder presses, abdominal crunches, lateral raises and strengthening exercises for your biceps and triceps. Start out slow on one of these machines to avoid muscle soreness. Limit your first workout to about 5 minutes every other day. Skip a day between workouts to allow your muscles to heal and soreness to abate. Slowly increase the amount of time you spend on the machine as your muscles grow stronger and your endurance increases. Resistance bands attached to the wall or to a bar also provide effective strengthening opportunities. Resistance bands provide an intense workout and can be used in virtually any position; standing, sitting or lying down. 
A step machine can give you a better workout than a regular treadmill because it simulates climbing stairs. Step machines help you burn more calories than you would using a treadmill for the same amount of time, because you lift your legs and push down with your feet. You can work your glutes, hamstrings, calf muscles and your abdominal muscles. Start out slow on a step machine and limit your first workout to 10 minutes or less. Take a day off to allow your muscles to recover before you work out on the step machine again. 

Rowing machines work almost all your major muscle groups and provides a powerful cardiovascular workout. This machine closely mimics the motion of rowing a boat and works the upper and lower body. You can burn quite a few calories in just a few minutes on a rowing machine. The machine can be adjusted to more or less resistance to accommodate beginners to experts. The key to getting a good workout on a rowing machine is a smooth, continuous rowing motion. 

Advantages of the Kettlebell Workout

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The American Council on Exercise (ACE) conducted a study in 2010 to measure the benefits of kettlebell workouts. Kettlebells are large iron balls with a handle. They vary in weight from a 2 pounds to more than 100 pounds. The kettlebells can be lifted, pressed and swung during an intense workout. The ACE study revealed that kettlebells produced a more intense workout than lifting weights alone. The participants in the study burned about 400 calories in a 20-minute workout, or about the same amount of calories as running a mile in 6 minutes. Beginners should work with a personal fitness trainer to learn to use kettlebells safely and effectively. Start with a light-weight, 2-pound, kettlebell and gradually work up to a heavier weight. Increase the amount of weight under the supervision and instruction of a fitness trainer. Some exercises using kettlebells includes the deadlift, the shoulder press and the arm swing.
Kettlebell deadlifts will primarily work your  glutes, quads, hamstrings and back muscles. Begin the exercise by standing with your feet flat on the floor with a kettlebell beside each foot. Spread your legs about hip-width apart and squeeze your abdominal muscles tight. Drop your shoulders slightly and squeeze your shoulder blades together. Breathe in deeply and lower your upper body straight down toward the floor. When your hands reach the kettlebells, grasp each handle overhand with your palms pointed toward your body. Keep your body straight and breathe out and then lift the kettlebells as you stand up straight in a smooth motion. Repeat the deadlift exercise 5 times and increase the repetitions as you get stronger. 
The arm swing will exercise your glutes, quads, hamstrings, core and back muscles. Stand with your feet apart about hip-width and put one kettlebell between your legs. Brace your upper body by squeezing your abdominal muscles, lowering your shoulders slightly and squeezing your shoulder blades together. Inhale, quat down and grasp the handle of the kettlebell in an overhand position with your palm down. Exhale and swing the kettlebell upward as you simultaneously return to a standing position. Swing the kettlebell until your arm is parallel with the floor, or straight out from your body. Keep your arm straight from your shoulder to your wrist. Do a 3 to 5 repetitions with each arm. 

The kettlebell shoulder press will work your shoulder and triceps muscles. Prepare for this exercise in the same position as before, standing, feet apart and shoulders back. Hold a kettlebell in one hand. Your palm facing  your body. Raise the kettlebell to your shoulder. The weight should be on the outside of your arm resting against your wrist and forearm. Push the kettlebell upward until your arm is extended straight up. Breathe out and return your arm to the start position. 

For more information and kettlebell exercises, see:

ACE Fitness, Kettlebells: Twice the Results in Half the Time?,Chad Schnettler, et al., 2010