It doesn’t matter if you’re a gym expert or a fitness noob, chances are that there are some pieces of gym equipment that you look at and simply think, “What in the world is that for?” You know what? We don’t blame you. There are tons of instances where we’ve encountered a new piece of gym equipment and wondered what we were supposed to do with it and whether we’d even get a good work out in with it.
Since this seems to be a common issue amongst many gym goers, we’ve taken stock of what we think are the most underused pieces of gym equipment are today. Heck, we’ll even tell you how to get a great workout out of it and the best way to incorporate it into your fitness routine.
#1: The Humble Jump Rope
Sometimes, grabbing hold of a jump rope can send you on a time machine back in time to your grade school days. After all, skipping rope was all the rage back in the day and the school yard was full of kids jumping easy, moderate and difficult rope tricks.
However, as anyone who’s ever picked up a jump rope knows, skipping is an awesome and much overlooked piece of gym equipment that deserves a permanent spot in your fitness routine. Not only does the jump rope get your heart rate pumping fast, it also conditions your endurance and agility.
As a cherry on top of an already awesome cake, jumping rope also helps to strengthen your bones, feet, calves, shoulders and forearms. You can make the jump rope part of your regular fitness routine by spending 5 to 10 minutes jumping. It makes a great warm up and will get your body ready for a great workout. You can also incorporate 30 skips into your circuits for amazing fat burn.
#2: The Underutilized Exercise or Balance Ball
Whether you call it a balance ball or an exercise ball, the fact that this piece of gym equipment is largely underutilized remains the same. A trip to the gym will have you finding the exercise ball left alone in the corner or used for crunches, but trust us when we say that they are capable of so much good for your body! You can place them between a wall and your back from some challenging squats or you can use them for some push-up and pike combinations to give your core and chest a solid workout. These exercises are definitely tough, but the reward of increased strength and definition is absolutely worth it.
#3: The Bosu Balance Trainer
There is something inexplicably bad-ass about the Bosu. Sure it looks funny and reminds you of a balance ball that’s lost its second half, but the Bosu has been responsible for some of our toughest and most rewarding workouts ever (no exaggeration, we promise!). The makers of the Bosu designed it to enhance not just your strength and balance, but also your core, cardio and flexibility.
How? Well, every time you step on the ball, kneel on the ball, or even lie on the ball, you automatically engage your core so that you retain your balance on the unstable surface. Bonus? It even improves your posture and helps protect you from exercise related injuries. If you’re trying the Bosu Balance Trainer out for the first time, we recommend trying some light on jogging on top of the ball or on and off the dome.
You can also try dumbbell exercises like bicep curls, overhead presses and front raises while standing or kneeling on the Bosu. Honestly, you can pretty much do anything with the Bosu and it will help increase the difficulty and caloric burn of the exercise.
#4: The Rowing Machine
If you’re terrified of the rowing machine, we encourage you to give it another try. There’s honestly nothing to be intimidated about and while it may be a bit confusing at first, once you hit your rhythm, you’re well on your way to great fat burn.
When using the rowing machine, remember that your feet should be strapped tightly to the foot hold. You should be holding the handle with an overhand grip and while rowing your arms you should be kept straight while your knees are bent and your mid-section is bent forward slightly. When you row, your core should be kept active and engaged.
Now, contrary to what many people believe, the rowing machine actually works your legs out more than your arms, but at the end of the day it’s your entire body that will benefit from the workout. It’s also a low impact work out that will get your cardiovascular system working hard. You can use the rowing machine to replace your typical treadmill warm up or even add it in between your strength training sets for a cardiovascular pick-me-up.
#5: The Kettlebell
Sometimes, barbells and dumbbells just don’t cut it and if they are still cutting it, then there’s a high likelihood that they can get pretty boring. Kettlebells are essentially giant round weight with handles on top, but what sets them apart from your typical gym weights are that they really force you to engage every single muscle in your body.
Unlike barbells or dumbbells, kettlebells are designed to focus on more than just a specific muscle group and are built with an off-center weight distribution so that your body is forced to utilize every stabilizer in your body as well. Sound confusing? Well, it really just means that at the end of the day, you’ll walk away having squeezed an awesome core workout in addition to cardio and strength training.
In fact, a lot of the movements and exercises that involve kettlebells require explosive and powerful movements that are essential and perfect for high intensity interval training. Additionally, kettlebells are convenient and versatile so you can pretty much incorporate them into a ton of different exercises to make them more effective and dynamic.