26 Gym Hacks You Probably Don't Use
12-16-2007 10:45 AM
26 Gym Hacks You Probably Don't Use
Working out is hard. Gym memberships are expensive. You want to get the most out of your workouts and these gym hacks will help you do just that.
26 Gym Hacks You Probably Don’t Use
Next time you are at the gym try some of these hacks and really get the gym working for you.
1. Trainers are worth the money
If you have been at the gym for a long time and still aren’t seeing much progress you should spend one session with a trainer and get their advice and opinion. This could save you time, effort and a lot of emotional energy.
2. Leg presses are safer than squats
Squats are the queen of all exercises but if you are new to the gym try using the leg press machine. It will teach you the correct pressing technique as well as allowing you to work your legs in a sage environment. No chance of leg or neck injuries here.
3. Most new cardio machines have heart monitors
If you missed this one you might have been asleep while you were running. Almost all new machines have heart rate monitors built into the handles. Just press your hands on the grips and your heart rate should come up on the display screen.
4. A lot of the classes are free
At my gym many of the bonus classes are free to members. That means cyclying, aquatics, yoga, pilates, etc. can all become a part of your workout with forking out any more cash.
5. When your gym membership expires they keep charging you
This is an annoying little thing I learned last year. When they say your membership expires on a certain date it doesn’t mean they are going to stop charging you. Zest health clubs in Australia keeps charging you until you cancel, even if you only signed for a year membership. I am quite sure this is not how a contract works guys.
6. Weight train before cardio
If you want to lose weight and you do a weights and a cardio workout in one session then do the weights frist. This will help to deplete some of the glycogen stores in your body and allow some more fat burning to take place.
7. Wide grip pull downs/chin ups work your lats
I am surprised at how many emails I get from women who want to know how to widen their back. The answer is to use a wide grip on any back exercise as this is supposed to help you target your lats a lot better.
8. Spas and saunas are good for you
Don’t feel like you are wasting time or cheating when you have a spa. It is good for you! Take some time to relax and realize that de-stressing is just as important as being fit.
9. Machines are NOT meant to make it easier
When you get on a machine do not get on with the idea that it is easier to do that free weights. It is not supposed to make it easier to lift, it is supposed to help you target a certain muscle group. You still need to work hard.
10. Repetition range means “until failure”
If you get one of those workout cards from your gym and it says “Dumbell Curls - 4 Sets of 10 Reps” it does not mean pick any old weight and just do 10 casual reps. What it means is that you should carefully select a weight that will cause you to “fail” at 10 reps. In normal speak this means that you have chosen the ideal weight if you can do 10 reps but no more. If you just do 10 reps with any old weight you are not going to make progress.
11. The treadmill works better on an incline
If you want to burn calories, get fitter, run faster… anything at all - set the treadmill on an incline. Most treadmills go on an incline and this is just like running up a hill. It is more effective and a heck of a lot harder. If your gym doesn’t have any new treadmills then read number 12.
12. Ask for new equipment - you usually get it
If your gym doesn’t have any treadmills that go on an incline or exercise bikes that measure your heart rate then ask them to get some in. They generally will. The gym usually hires equipment so it isn’t too much of a hassle for them at all. Plus, you pay a good $1000 a year (or there abouts) so why shouldn’t you have everything you need?
13. Shower before going into the sauna or spa
Listen. If you workout hard you are generally going to smell pretty bad. If you then go into a spa or sauna you are going to start sweating even more and thus stink even more! Please use the showers before you go into the sauna. It is only fair!
14. Ask for a free bag, drink bottle and towel
If you didn’t get all the gym merchandise when you signed up for your membership then they ripped you off! Seriously though, every gym has towels and bags and drink bottles with their logos on them. Go up to reception and say you didn’t get yours when you signed up and they will probably give them to you free. After all, lots of people wearing their bags is good advertising for the gym.
15. Don’t do tricep pulldowns on the pulldown machine
You can get a better stretch and muscle contraction if you do your pulldowns on the cable machine. Set it up nice and high and use a flat bar instead of teh traditional triangluar one. I have always found this leads to a better triceps workout.
16. Ask someone to be a training partner
The best workouts are ones where you work with a partner. You can inspire each other, rely on each other and keep each other going when it gets tough. They will look at your technique and make sure you aren’t making mistakes. You’d be surprised how many people at the gym would love to train with you but are too afraid to ask. You take the big step.
17. Every gym has a clock
The clock on the wall should be used. Time how long your rests are. Take specific length breaks. Monitor how long you are working out for. Never go over an hour. Use the clock and it’s time keeping power!
18. Each machine lets you adjust the seat height
Don’t do a machine chest press with the seat to low or you will damage your shoulder joints. Make sure that every machine you sit on has the right height for you. This won’t always mean having your feet flat on the ground though. Sometimes you will need to sit a bit higher to make sure the machine it targeting the right muscles.
19. Don’t copy the other guy’s lifting speed
Weight training is supposed to be done slowly and to your own tune. Do not fall into the trap of lifting like someone else - they might be doing it wrong.
20. If you don’t know, ask
The trainers are always wandering the floor like lost children. Quite often I wonder why they are even there. If you don’t know how to use a machine then go up and ask. They will be thrilled that someone actually talked to them and it might save you an injury.
21. Lockers are not safes
How many times have I had something stolen from my locker? Well, none, actually. However, recently at my gym there was a guy who was prying open all the lockers and taking wallets, cell phones and car keys. They are not designed to secure your items like a safe it. Leave them at home or keep them on you.
22. Use the Ab Roller
Do you remember those late night television devices called Ab Rollers? I always dissed them pretty hard saying they were a waste of money. However, recently I had some pretty tired abs and wanted to do a “light” abs exercise so I jumped on the floor and gave the Ab Roller a shot. Boy was I surprised! They burn like crazy. If your abs routine is a little boring then try one of these strange looking machines.
23. Read the equipment’s instructions and diagrams
Every machine states what it does, how you should use it and what muscles it targets. Make sure you read and learn this information. My younger brother was doing shrugs for years thinking it was working out his triceps. The diagram right next to him, however, states that it was a traps exercise. Idiot!
24. Early morning free breakfast
If you ever want a free breakfast some gyms (especially women’s gyms) offer a free breakfast of toast, fruit and a cup of tea. Go and do your workout and then have a bite before you head off to work. Perfect.
25. The wall with the dirty marks on it has a purpose
Does your gym have a wall covered in dirty marks? Most do. This is where you are allowed to throw the medicine ball against the wall and catch it to make your abs crunches more effective and difficult. Don’t feel bad about the noise it makes, thats what it is there for. However, don’t do it on just any wall, you might knock the thing over!
26. Select your cardio workout setting carefully
Each cardio machine (treadmill, bike, rower) has different settings on it. You can choose from Cardio, Hill, Random, Fat Burn, etc. and each one of these gives you a very different workout. Make sure you choose the right one for you and change the difficulty setting as you go along. Don’t let yourself sit on the same level for weeks at a time.
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There are many ways to make your trip to the gym more effective and productive. These are just some. If you have any others leave a comment so we all can use them as well.
12-17-2007 04:57 PM
most of those things I'm familiar with but I will switch to doing weights first now.
I use YMCA and while we dont have a sauna at our location we do have clocks, lockers, water, towels, HR monitors, etc. I make use of them. However I am left confused on one point.
Whats the difference between a pulldown machine and the one with the cable?
I use the one that is in with the leg presses, ab machine, back extension etc. It says "lateral pull down" Which one is that?
Whats this about a medicine ball?
01-11-2008 11:31 AM
I'm confused about the weights first thing. Every trainer I've ever had has recommended 10-15 minutes of cardio to get my heart rate up before any weight training. Perhaps 10 minutes on a treadmill then doing my weight training then doing my cardio again would be the best?
01-11-2008 11:51 AM
it is good to do a warmup, yes. This is talking about "full bore" cardio, which to me means HIIT (high intensity interval training). So 10 minutes to get heart rate into the 110-120 range pre weight training is good, but not the half hour of running your heart rate from 140-180 in 2 minute intervals. Save that for after the weights. Really warmups and stretches in general are critical to avoid soreness afterwards.
Originally Posted by CrissyJ
On #3 above too, should add "If you buy a wireless heart rate monitor chest band + watch combo, most cardio machines also will wirelessly receive that signal and display your heartrate on their panel without touching the machine". This is great for ellipticals or crossramp, so you can put your hands where you want to. Or even on the bike if you want to bust out some small dumbells and do curls while on the bike
01-11-2008 05:05 PM
Now that it has been mentioned, I need to check the fine print again with the expiring gym membership.. just to make sure I dont get charged if it happens.
Also, I know I signed up at a certin rate, and I beleive at gold's their monthly fees are cheaper. I need to see if I can get on to this new rate. Worth a try
01-12-2008 12:47 PM
just because you are a woman doesnt mean you should train like a dumbass. Most of those tips could fall into a seperate article entitled "what not to do".
01-12-2008 05:13 PM
Everything seemed pretty sensable to me
Originally Posted by Variocam