Jordan Smuts, a personal trainer at ACAC Fitness & Wellness Center in Midlothian, recommends these six types of equipment for gym beginners:
• Barbells: “Barbells are a tool that provide you with the ability to load numerous exercises with a large amount of weight. Barbells are the best piece of equipment to help you get as strong as possible. Learn the big exercises, like the squat, deadlift, and presses, to perform them effectively and safely and progressively add weight over the course of weeks, months, and years.”
• Kettlebells: “Kettlebells are a unique piece of equipment that allow you to do a wide range of exercises to help you get stronger, add muscle, or lose some weight. With sizes varying from 5 to well over 100 pounds, performing exercises like goblet squats, overhead presses, and swings can be sufficiently loaded for beginners and advanced users alike.”
• Dumbbells: “Dumbbells force each arm to act independently of one another placing more of a stability demand on the body. As free weights, dumbbells allow you to move through a full range of motion, which is beneficial for building more muscle and bettering your movement.”
• Multi-Use Cable Machines: “Cable machines decrease the stability demands needed in comparison to free weights as it limits you to one or two planes of motion. This is advantageous for more isolated exercises where you can target specific muscle groups to focus on bringing up a specific body part or address some muscular imbalances.”
• Resistance Bands: “Resistance bands have multiple uses as they can either add resistance or add assistance to movements. From a resistance standpoint, they are great for activation exercises of the shoulder and the glutes to get some of the muscles responsible for stability working. From an assistance perspective, you can loop your foot in them to provide some extra help for bodyweight movements like pull-ups or push-ups if you aren't able to do those with your bodyweight.”
• Sled: “Similar to the things you will see out on the football field, most gyms are outfitted with a sled that you can load with weights and either push it or pull it for distance. Loading it up heavier will help build some lower body strength while keeping the weight lighter and going faster will give you a great high-intensity workout to get you in better cardiovascular shape and burn some fat.”
Expert Contributor: Smuts is an NATA-certified athletic trainer and an NSCA-certified strength and conditioning specialist with an M.S. in Kinesiology and a B.A. in athletic training. He has been practicing as an athletic trainer and strength coach for more than 5 years. He specializes in helping people with a history of injuries move and feel better while achieving their fitness goals.