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Gym equipment - how to get the best from your gym

Gym equipment

Gym Fitness

If you are new to the gym it can be quite baffling when you first walk into the fitness suite. New gym members are usually given a tutorial on the various machines and gym equipment before being let loose! You'll need professional fitness advice about the amount of weights you should use and the repetitions suitable to your fitness goal.

If you are offered a free training assessment, or workout with a professional trainer it's well worth doing - you can discuss what exactly you want from the gym, and a fitness programme can be made to specifically target what you want to achieve.

Gym Equipment - the most popular exercise machines



Running generally burns 10-15 calories a minute, depending on your weight, age and effort. It is an excellent form of cardiovascular exercise. According to research, running one mile burns approximately 30% more calories than walking the same distance.

Treadmill running will mainly work your lower body - especially your quads, calve muscles and hamstrings, and is kinder to your body than pounding the pavements.

The great thing with treadmill running, as opposed to a workout outside, is that all the information, like your speed, distance, heart rate, etc. is in front of you, helping you gain the most from your exercise session. Running outside burns slightly more calories than on the treadmill, but you can cover this if you set your machine to 1% elevation.

Adding an incline to your run makes it more challenging - most treadmills have lots of different exercise profiles to choose from - varying hill patterns,etc. You control the speed you want to go, from a steady walking pace to a full-on run or sprint.

You can opt to run for a distance or time, whatever suits your workout. The manual option lets you practise interval training, as you can ramp up or slow down the speed. A good treadmill will also have a fan to cool you down as you work hard, so you won't even miss the wind in your face!

Cross TrainerCross Trainer or Elliptical Trainer

Cross-training generally burns between 10 -12 calories per minute, depending on your intensity. This machine works both the upper and lower body, as you move your feet move in an oval (elliptical) pattern.

It is a great low-impact exercise, and works all your lower leg muscles. You are in control of the speed with your movement, so the cross-trainer is great for interval training - short bursts of high intensity followed by slower rest periods.

The amount of resistance you choose determines the intensity you work at.

You can choose not to use the handles and just concentrate on working your legs - this helps strengthen your core muscles as you balance yourself. There is also an option to go backwards, which is worth doing as it works different muscles in your legs.

Rowing Machine

Rowing MachineGenerally rowing uses around 8-10 calories per minute, depending on your weight and the energy you use.

This exercise machine works your thighs, buttocks, biceps, back and shoulders. Unlike running, there is no pressure on the knees. It is important to get the technique right when using a rowing machine, as there can be a risk of lower back injury if misused. Rowing technique

You can row a set distance or choose the length of time you want to exercise. All your information is in front of you, along with an estimation of the calories burned.

It's a good idea to choose a rowing machine placed in front of a tv screen, if your gym has them, as rowing can get a bit monotonous after a while. Some people find wearing training gloves useful for longer workouts - it helps avoid blisters.

Rowing is a good workout if you keep up the intensity, and can be an intense calorie-burning exercise. This fitness machine strikes a good balance between cardiovascular and muscle training.

Exercise Bike

Exercise bike Working out on an exercise bike should burn around 8-10 calories per minute, but it depends on how hard you push yourself and your body weight.

Riding an exercise bike strengthens the leg and thigh muscles, including the hamstringsand also works the gluteal or bottom muscles. Cycling also gives you a good cardio workout and will improve your fitness.

The stationary exercise bike is a popular choice for many trying to keep fit or lose weight. There are 2 main types - the upright and recumbent exercise bikes. Both provide a good form of low-impact aerobic exercise, without the jarring to your back or knees you may suffer if you cycle outside.

The lower seating position in the recumbent exercise bike (one with a back- rest), creates less pressure on the lower back and knees, which is good if you are recovering from an injury and are trying to get back to exercising again.

To achieve optimum fat-burning you will need to change your pace when working out on the various gym machines. Interval training is much more effective than steady exercise - short bursts of high intensity balanced with slower speed will really raise your metabolism and help you achieve your goals of weight loss and fitness.

Choosing gym membership

Gym Fitness classes



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