Gym 101


GYM 101 – BEGINNER’S GUIDE

People have all sorts of perceptions, connotations and associations with gyms and the weight room. For some, it’s a musty place where guys grunt as they throw down weights with their 20-inch arms. You won’t find any of that at our pink, ladies-only gym! For others, it’s a place to get on a treadmill for awhile or maybe even do a few curls but then leave without taking full advantage of what’s available.

So what are all these contraptions in the gym? There are a few different kinds.


FREE WEIGHTS

Lighter weights are usually used for isolated single muscle exercises (bicep curls, tricep extensions). Heavier weights are usually used for compound multiple muscle exercises (shoulder presses, chest or reverse flyes, weighted squats). If you’re not sure where to start, grab a lighter weight and work your way up. How do you know if you are using the right weight? You should be able to perform 8-12 repetitions in a row of an exercise and feel fatigued on the final repetition.

Dumbbells

Dumbbells: Dumbbells are the smaller handheld size weights. Our dumbbells range from 3 pounds to 50 pounds. They are used for a large variety of exercises, including bicep curls, various types of presses, tricep kickbacks, pec and back flyes, lateral and front shoulder raises, and many, many more.

Kettlebell

Kettlebells: These are popular for their combination of cardio and strength training benefits. Basic exercises you can do with a kettlebell are the kettlebell swing and the squat press. Form is everything with kettlebells, so ask one of our certified personal trainers for some pointers before you get started.

Barbells

Barbells: These are bars with weights permanently attached on each end. Our barbells range in weight from 20 to 60 pounds and can be used to perform weighted squats, lunges, shoulder presses, rows, curls and more. Additionally, we have two types of barbells – straight bar barbells and curl bar barbells.

Olympic Bars: Our gym has Olympic bars which are custom made specifically for ladies. They weigh 35 pounds (instead of the usual man-sized 45 pound bars) and have a smaller diameter bar made to be gripped by the smaller hands of our lady gym members. These bars can be used for many different exercises, including various exercises on the squat rack such as squats, bench press, or functional movements like a clean and jerk.

Olympic Bar
Weight Plates

Plates:

These are weighted plates which you can put onto an Olympic bar to make it heavier. We have different size plates in the following sizes/weights: 2.5, 5, 10, 25, and 45 pounds each.

Clip

Clips: These are used to secure weight plates onto bars. Make sure you secure your plates to prevent them from possibly slipping off and causing some damage, especially if they were to land on your foot!


WEIGHT MACHINES

Types of Weight Machines

There are two basic types of weight machines – plate-loaded machines and selectorized machines.

PLATE-LOADED MACHINES:

A plate-loaded machine is a weight machine which is designed to be used with weight plates manually loaded onto it. We have the following plate-loaded machines in our gym:

    Squat Rack

  1. Squat Rack: This “machine” has no moving parts, which is why it referred to as a rack. It is a popular piece of equipment which often gets hogged. If nobody is using it, grab a friend or trainer and take a turn at it. If it’s your first time using the squat rack, it is really important to have someone nearby to spot you and/or check you for good form. To properly prepare your squat rack, begin by unloading any unwanted weight plates off of the bar (if the person before you had good etiquette, it should have already been unloaded). Walk up to the bar and assess it for proper height — it should come right between your chin and mid-chest. If it’s too high or too low, remove the weight plates from the bar, lift the bar off of the squat rack, move the bar to the proper height, then reload any weight plates onto the bar which you want to use, if any.
     

    To perform your first weighted squat, face the mirror and walk in front of the bar while it is still resting on the squat rack in the bar holsters. Bend your elbows and position your hands slightly behind your shoulders. Place your hands on the bar, positioning yourself directly in the middle. Let the bar rest on the meaty part of your shoulders where your “trap” muscles are located. Once you feel completely comfortable, gently lift the bar off of the squat rack and pause to gain your balance and control. Your feet should be a little wider than hip-width apart and you should be standing very tall in a balanced and controlled position.

    From this balanced and controlled position, keep your chest lifted by maintaining your spine’s vertical angle as you sit into your squat. Your first movement should be to move your rear end out just slightly, followed by bending from your ankles, knees, and then hips. Keep your spine long and neutral as you lower yourself into your squat. A regular squat movement continues downward until your thigh is almost parallel to the ground. Then stand back up at a balanced and controlled speed.

    One variation of the squat, known as a “deep squat”, continues the squat movement into a lower position than a regular squat. Typically you would keep squatting down as low as you can go while maintaining your vertical spine angle, but you must stop before your tailbone starts to turn under (known as “butt wink”) to prevent injuring your lower back.

    If you aren’t sure whether you’re using proper form, ask an experienced certified personal trainer to check your form. We’ll be very happy to help you!

  2. Smith Machine

  3. Smith Machine: This machine is very similar to the squat rack and is located right next to the squat rack in our gym. However, unlike the squat rack, the bar on the Smith machine is permanently connected to the Smith machine. The bar is attached via a vertical guide bar on each side. The attached bar will make you feel supported and safer. This is an excellent machine to start on if it’s your first time to do weighted squats.
  4. Incline Leg Press: This machine works your quadriceps (commonly referred to as your “quads”) and your gluteus maximus muscles (commonly referred to as your “glutes” or your “booty”!).

SELECTORIZED MACHINES:

Selector Pin

A selectorized machine is a machine which has a stack of weights (known as a weight stack) built into the machine rather than having to load weight plates onto the machine. The amount of weight you use on the machine is easily selected by moving the metal pin and placing it into the pin hole which corresponds to the amount of weight you want to use.

We have the following selectorized weight machines in our gym:

Multi-Stack Machine Pec Dec / Rear Delt Shoulder Press

Assisted Pullup / Dip Shoulder Raise Leg Extension
Hip Abduction Hip Abdduction Leg Curl

TERMS AND LINGO

So now that you know a thing or two about the equipment you may be asking yourself “how do I understand the workouts?” Here are some commonly used terms that you will need to know:

“Rep” or “Repetition”: When someone says they’ve done “10 reps,” they are saying that they performed one single exercise 10 consecutive times.

“Set”: Reps make up a set. For example, those “10 reps” are known as one set. The number of reps that make up a set varies and can be anywhere from 1 to 100 or even more, but it’s usually a number in the double digits such as 12 (or single digits if you’re lifting really heavy). The number of reps depends on the objective (strength training vs. endurance training) and the amount of weight. In general, a set with a low number of reps (typically 12 or fewer) and with heavy weight is used for strength training whereas a set with a high number of reps and lighter weight is used for endurance training.

For Example: “I just did 3 sets of 15 squats, lunges and push-ups.”
This means that one set = 15 reps. The exercises performed were squats, lunges and push-ups. So they did 15 reps of squats, then 15 reps of lunges and then 15 reps of push ups. Then they repeated those same 15 reps of those 3 exercises two more times for a total of three sets of each exercise with 15 reps per set.

“To Failure” or “AMRAP”: “To Failure” or AMRAP, which stands for “as many reps as possible”, means to perform as many reps of an exercise as you possibly can until your muscles fail from fatigue and you simply do not have the strength to perform another rep.

“ROM”: “ROM” stands for “range of motion”, which is a measure of your movement of a particular muscle or body part. This term is sometimes used to describe the amount of movement of an exercise.

GYM ETIQUETTE

What about gym etiquette? Where do I put my stuff? What if the weights get all sweaty?

Etiquette is everything in the gym. Some people are no good at it, but that doesn’t mean you should be one of them. Follow these tips to make the most of your (and everyone else’s) time and experience.

  • Ask for Help: Never be afraid to ask somebody for help. Not sure what you’re doing? Ask someone. Our trainers are always wanting to help you. Although it’s preferred that you ask a trainer, it doesn’t have to be a trainer — a more experienced gym member can also help you and most likely will love the opportunity to share their knowledge with you! People would rather help you get setup with good knowledge and using good form than watch you hurt yourself. So please ask!
  • Plan Your Workout: Have a plan of what exercises you will do for your workout. This help prevent you from “hogging” equipment. Sometimes the squat rack is on one end of the gym, while the leg curl is on the other end. Instead of placing your towel on both pieces and attempting to “claim” both of them for 30 minutes, plan one portion of your workout (i.e. a few sets) around the squat rack, then plan a separate portion of your workout (i.e. another few sets) around the leg curl machine. In peak times, this will be helpful to both you and your fellow gym members.
  • Share Equipment: Sharing equipment is expected. Don’t be shy about asking someone how many more sets they have on a piece of equipment you want to use, especially during peak times when the gym is busy. Just use your judgment and don’t be rude or annoying or ask them in the middle of their set! And if you happen to be the one using the equipment that someone else wants to use, please be open to their share requests. For example, if you’re doing multiple exercises (also known as “super-sets”) with some exercises using a barbell and some using a machine, consider letting another lady use the barbell while you’re using the machine and not using the barbell.
  • Wipe Down Equipment: Wipe down equipment to clean it after you use it. We have paper towels and a few spray bottles strategically located around our gym which contain a cleaning solution which is specially-formulated to kill all of the germs and bacteria in a sweaty gym environment. Please be courteous and clean off equipment for the benefit of yourself and others by wiping down the equipment after you use it.
  • Re-Rack Weights: Place weights back on their rack when you’re finished using them. If you can lift it up to workout, you can lift it up to put it back. Weights are heavy, so don’t let that job fall to someone else. Put all weights back when you’re finished using them and unload any bars that you may have loaded with weight plates.


I love my pink gym!! The environment is great. Staff and clients are friendly.
Mindy Myers - Personal Training Client
 
 
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