Equipment Guide: What is that for?!



by Becca Egan, BS, NASM-CPT

Tired of not knowing what that odd piece of equipment is for, or what it even is?! Just want to change up your workout? Using different pieces of equipment is a great way to do that, and work muscles in a way that you might never have before!

Kettle Bells – you will find these in most gyms these days, but you may not know exactly what to do with them. The simplest answer is to use them to intensify any exercise. Hold one at your shoulder or in the middle of your chest and squat or lunge, or down by your side for a lunge (core challenger!). Talk to a trainer about how to use them for kettle bell swings which are probably what they are most commonly used for.

Loop Bands – want a great glute burn? Loop one of these bands, available in varying resistance (ask the trainer what the degree of difficulty each on is) make sure there’s always tension on the band and take steps to the right and left for 20 seconds. Once you master that movement, start moving forward, back, and diagonal! Also great for strengthening weak muscles in the lower body (check with a physical therapist if you are having pain in your hips, back, or knees).

Med Balls – Had a stressful day at work, or at home? Here is your cure! Take that ball, raise it all the way over your head and slam it to the ground with power! Slam balls work every muscle form your shoulders and biceps, to core, to legs and glutes. (Please make sure this is a non-bounce, non-rubber ball before throwing.) Something else I like to use med balls for is to gage your squat depth. Just place the ball behind you and pull your glutes back until you tap the ball, squeeze the glutes and return to standing position.

TRX – The TRX is the black and yellow straps you may have seen hanging from a cable machine or anchored to a high point on a wall. There’s really nothing you can’t do with a TRX (or other suspension trainer). The TRX using your body weight and gravity to put resistance against you. Stay tuned next week for a list of moves you can do with the TRX.

Foam roller – This is more for recovery than actual workouts. But still just as important. Foam rolling is for Myofascial release. That tight or sore feeling you have a day or two after working out is your muscle fiber. Muscle fibers are supposed to be nicely aligned along the length of the muscle. However when we workout, we tear those muscles and they don’t always go back in that nicely aligned position, sometimes they’re knotted up. Foam rolling smooths out the knots so the muscle fibers can go back to how they should. I like to explain it as a big rolling pin that you are using on yourself, instead of pizza or cookie dough.

**Never roll an injury and consult the trainer at your facility or physical therapist prior to using a foam roller for the first time.**

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