Feel Prepared and Efficient the Next Time You Hit the Gym With This Equipment Guide

Photo: Stocksy/Jovo Jovanovic
If there's one word to describe the gym this month, it's crowded. Still, there's no time like the present to learn how to use a new piece of gym equipment—even when there's a line of people waiting to use it after you. The good news is you can become a pro before you even walk through those doors.

To feel confident and prepared during your workouts, first create a plan. Then dive into exactly what you need to know to get a great workout once you get there. Whether you've been wanting to try out the rowing machine or want to get more out of your elliptical sessions, here's a roundup of our best guides that will help you master the most common pieces of gym equipment like a boss.

How to use gym equipment like a pro during your next visit


There are so many different ways you can use the bench at the gym. If you want to ease into the piece of equipment sans weights, try bodyweight exercises first. You can do a circuit that consists of pushups, squats, jump overs, and other moves.

2. weights

Weight training can feel intimidating. When you're just starting out, learn some of the best beginner-friendly sets, including goblet squats, ledge rows, and lunge to bicep curls.

3. Rowing machine

Everyone tends to make the same mistake when using a rowing machine by letting their arms doing all the work. Mastering the correct form is easier than you think. Before you sit down, just learn the three-part movement pattern, which includes the finish, the catch, and the drive.

4. Assault bike

Many people think of the assault bike as boring, but it's anything but. It's popping up in HIIT classes for its stellar conditioning perks, and there's a challenging way to use it. "I recommended the Tabata process—it really gets the heart rate up before, during, or after any work. It’s a big caloric burner," says trainer Jay Mark of FitHouse. Start by doing three one-minute intervals with 30 seconds of rest between each.

5. Battle ropes

You've probably seen the battle ropes hanging out at the gym, and now it's time to go over and pick them up. “Battle ropes can provide an excellent workout because they allow you to do some challenging moves without having to put your joints through the stress of carrying weights," says trainer Tyler Spraul, CSCS. When you use them, make sure you're using the right form. "Stand in a strong athletic stance with knees and hips bent. A slight curve in your back is okay, and keeping your core tight in this stance will give you a solid foundation for any regular battle ropes exercises," he says.

6. Elliptical

Using the elliptical is a great way to get in a low-impact cardio workout. If you use it correctly, that is. For the best results, trainers recommend focusing on a handful of aspects: not going too fast (and adding resistance!), using the right form with your back straight and shoulders back, and making sure you're never leaning, rocking, or twisting.

7. Bosu ball

The Bosu ball is the ultimate stability-builder, and it can be used for far more than crunches. "I love it because it can be added to so many simple exercises to make them even more challenging and effective," says Tiffani Hendin, obé fitness instructor. Hendin recommends doing Bosu ball burpees and Bosu ball squats to really work your muscles.

8. Ski erg

The ski erg is basically a rowing machine that stands upright. Instead of sitting and pulling the handles in toward your chest, you're standing and pulling the handles down like you're using ski poles. “The ski erg is a low impact workout and a high calorie burner,” says Tatiana Lampa, a trainer at FitHouse. "I like using it as a cardio sprint, or even at the end of a workout for metabolic conditioning."

9. StairMaster

The StairMaster works your glutes, quads, hamstrings, and calves—basically your entire lower body. If you're not sure which type of workout to do on it, there are a bunch of different options, from a HIIT routine to a weighted warmup.

Here's a 5-minute HIIT workout you can do right at home:

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