If going to the gym sounds about as fun as scrubbing the floor with a toothbrush, maybe it's time to take a break from the ol' treadmill and leg press machine. The following underrated pieces of gym equipment could be just the thing to get you out of your rut and back into workout mode.
Warm-ups typically are too short, incorrectly executed or skipped altogether. Lets face it, everyone wants to get in the gym and start lifting some weight. But real performance starts with a real warm-up, and the foam roller may be the best piece of workout equipment for this. A proper foam roll can help loosen muscles, increase blood flow and get your body ready to move. During your rolling time, you can mentally prepare yourself for your workout while you're already in the gym. Grab a roller and spend 5 to 10 minutes rolling your quads, hamstrings, glutes, back and any other part of the body that is sore.
Mini-bands are probably the best way to isolate and warm up the glutes for a workout. Typical warm-up routines like lunging and hip-flexor stretches may work the glute major, but it can be difficult to work the glute medius or minimus without these bands.
Recruiting and using these muscles will boost your performance. Professional teams in a number of sports travel with mini-bands for road workouts and pre-game warm-ups, and many top athletes use them at home. If mini bands work for the pros, shouldn't you give them a try?
Squat Rack with Bar
Chances are you see these giant contraptions in the gym and walk right on by to the bench and the machines. A rack with a bar is the most versatile piece of workout equipment in the gym. If you know what you're doing, you can take care of a full-body workout right there. Squats are the obvious choice, but you can also do other leg exercises. Throw in some Cleans for power and some Barbell Split Squats for single-leg training. For your chest, grab a bench and do some Bench Presses. Shoulders? Overhead Press. And for your back, secure the bar against the rack, lower yourself down and knock out some sets of Rows. Just like that, you've trained every major muscle group without even moving around the gym.
This is probably one of the more curious-looking pieces of equipment in the gym; many people don't even know what it is. Start using this tool to add some variety and really challenge yourself. Try a Half-Kneeling Shoulder Press with the Landmine. The half-kneeling posture will really work your glutes and posture muscles to keep your torso upright. Then, the Shoulder Press obviously works your deltoid and chest muscles, plus your lats need to turn on to lock the shoulder down. Your core muscles also have to activate to keep you from falling with the weight of the bar on one side of your body. Any other exercise you can do with the landmine is a great challenge, so try to use it when you can.
Your Own Body
An obvious, yet extremely undervalued piece of workout "equipment" is, of course, your own body. Take care of your body and your body will take care of you. If you don't feed it right, it will not perform right.
Never stretch or do any alignment/corrective drills? Prepare for injury.
Bottom line is that without a healthy body to start with, no workout is possible. You cannot get stronger or faster or leaner or make any progress toward goals if you don't take care of yourself.
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