Whether you’re a seasoned gym-goer or just starting out, staying engaged and motivated when working out can be difficult. Everyone has a different strategy to keep themselves going to the gym and staying healthy; some create routines, others ask friends to join them for motivation but there’s one strategy that tends to work for most people – keeping things different during each workout.
Often, we can get in the habit of going to the gym and working out in the same way every time. Whilst this familiarity is human nature and can be very helpful for keeping us focused, it can also become boring and demotivating. Boredom is one of the main reasons that gym-goers abandon their fitness, so, reducing it is a key factor if you really want to succeed in working out well.
One of the best ways to avoid boredom is to use different equipment during each of your gym visits. Whilst most people use the same equipment in the same way, there are some gym items that are underutilised and underappreciated. In this guide, we are going to introduce you to a few of these pieces of equipment and explain why they’re good and why you should use them to change up your workouts.
Jump Boxes or Step Mill
Jump boxes are the thin, stackable boxes which can be built up to whatever height you choose. They can be used for practising explosive power jumping or simply as a small stepping stool. On the flip side, a step mill is like an endless set of stairs which you climb continuously, like an uphill treadmill but with steps. Adding foam mats underneath the boxes will provide extra cushioning and protect you from any potential falls or slips.
For casual gym attendees, jump boxes can seem like equipment for those who are taking their muscle growth and fitness extremely seriously, usually meaning athletes. As a result, they can often be neglected and used as a place to put your water bottle whilst you’re using a completely different piece of equipment. On the other, step mills are just considered slightly worse treadmills but both of these assumptions are simply incorrect.
Jump boxes allow for a range of different exercises done and incrementally increased or altered difficulties. This means you can continuously push yourself during your workout sessions by setting the height of the boxes higher or lower. Step mills are also beneficial by exercising completely different muscles to treadmills. Additionally, step mills lead to a longer time under tension, assisting in leg muscle development.
Whether it’s for stepping or jumping, this equipment is invaluable.
Whilst there’s no doubt that Olympic bars are used widely, the more niche options can be intimidating for new visitors to the gym. Making use of these can be incredibly effective for targeted muscle development.
Most people think of the Olympic bars used in traditional powerlifting – a thin, straight metal pole with weights attached to each end, but there are other Olympic bars available which aren’t utilised fully in the gym. Hex bars are used to exercise the same muscles as a traditional straight bar deadlift but do so more safely and many report being able to lift a greater weight using them. Hip thrust olympic bars are specifically focused on exercised the glutes and quadriceps, whilst swiss bars have a variety of different holds to allows the effective exercising of a range of muscles. There are even specific Olympic bars designed for curling exercises.
Using these will add something different to your workout experience whilst also benefitting your fitness objectives.
Particularly for people looking to lose weight or achieve their natural shape, bodyweight exercises are the way to go. Whether it’s push-ups, sit-ups or planking, bodyweight exercises train your body to manage its own weight successfully, naturally resulting in balanced and proportional body shape.
Of these bodyweight exercises, the pull-up is one of the best. Using the pull-up bar at the gym can often be seen as a waste of effort when there is so much more complicated equipment available but pull-ups are hard, and practising them will assist in a host of different fitness goals. Additionally, gym pull-up bars have a variety of handholds and styles, allowing you to exercise a variety of arm and back muscles for holistic muscle development. Using the pull-up bar is simply a no-brainer.
By making use of this underutilised equipment, you can be sure you’ll stay engaged and healthy all at once. Don’t hesitate to ask staff at the gym if you’re unsure how to use something new though, as safety is paramount.