New to the gym? How to Use Our Gym Equipment
Walking into a new gym for the first time can be intimidating, especially if you’ve never used any gym kit before. There is much gym equipment to choose from, it’s hard to know where to start! And once you have decided on a piece of equipment, working out how to use it can be a minefield of its own.
We’ve created video tutorials on how to use different gym equipment so you can prepare yourself before you go. And don’t worry, if you find you’ve forgotten the ins and outs of a piece of kit once you’re at the gym, lots of our equipment has QR codes that bring up these video tutorials.
Gym kit falls into a few different categories:
- Cardio machines
- Resistance machines
- Free weights
Here, we’ll focus on some cardio machines and some resistance machines. If you want to try your hand with some free weights, we have a beginner’s guide to training with free weights here.
Interested in a particular machine? Jump straight to them here:
- How to use the treadmill
- How to use the stationary bike
- How to use the cross trainer
- How to use the rowing machine
- How to use the leg press machine
- How to use the chest press machine
- How to use the shoulder press machine
- How to use the assisted pull up machine
- How to use the prone/ lying leg curl machine
- How to use the seated row machine
How to use cardio machines
Cardio refers to any workout which raises your heart rate for a prolonged period of time. Cardio equipment is a great way to get an indoor cardio workout in, and there’s several options to choose from – so if you don’t like one, try another!
Need help formatting your cardio workouts? We’ve shared some of our favourite cardio workouts here.
How to use the treadmill
The treadmill can be used for walking, jogging, or running, and can be put on an incline to mimic hills and make your workout more challenging.
- Start by clipping the safety clip to the bottom of your top. If during your workout you move too far back on the treadmill, the safety clip will trigger and turn the treadmill off, so you come to a safe stop.
- Next, turn the treadmill on by pressing the green GO or start button.
- From here you can adjust the speed to take it up to a faster walk, a jog, or a run by simply pressing the speed arrow buttons up and down until you find a comfortable pace.
- You can also adjust the treadmill angle using the incline arrow buttons up and down. This can make the intensity of your walk, jog or run a little more challenging.
- Remember to keep your chest up and gaze forward while walking, jogging, or running on the treadmill.
- When you’re ready to finish your workout, all you need to do is press the red stop button and the treadmill will slow you down to a stop.
- If for any reason you need to stop quickly, you can press the emergency stop button.
How to use the stationary bike
Cycling is a low impact cardio workout, which makes it ideal for beginners or anyone with joint issues.
- First up, adjust the seat height so that it is roughly in line with your hips.
- Make sure that the handle or pin you’ve just used to adjust the bike seat is securely back in place before getting on.
- The safest way to get onto the bike is to use three contact points: one foot in the pedal, one hand on the bike handles and one hand on the seat for balance.
- From here, you can step your leg through and sit onto the bike.
- To turn the bike on, you need to start pedalling. Once the machine lights up, press the green ‘Go’ button.
- To make the cycle a little bit more challenging, you can increase the resistance by using the resistance arrows up and down.
- During your cycle, try to sit up tall, keep your core tight and use your leg muscles to generate the power.
- When you’re ready to finish your ride, press the red stop button and then use your three contact points to safely get off the bike.
See our tips for staying comfortable while using an exercise bike here.
How to use the cross trainer
Sometimes known as an elliptical machine, the cross trainer is an excellent piece of kit! It delivers a full body workout while improving your cardiovascular fitness, and its low impact too.
- Start by safely stepping one foot at a time onto the pedals, using the handles as support.
- Start pedalling to turn on the cross trainer, once the machine lights up, press the green ‘Go’ or start button.
- You can then adjust the resistance using the resistance arrows up and down on the console or the central handles until you find a comfortable resistance to pedal at.
- Hold onto the moving handles, use your upper body strength to push and pull them in tandem with your pedalling movements, instead of just letting the handles move your arms.
- Try to keep your chest up, core tight and avoid lifting the feet too much as you pedal.
- When you’re ready to finish your workout, all you need to do is press the red stop button and the cross trainer will stop.
How to use the rowing machine
The rowing machine works almost every muscle in the body, in addition to being a really effective way to do a cardio workout.
Not sure if this kit is right for you? Check out the reasons why we love the rowing machine here.
How to use resistance machines
Resistance training involves working against force, which helps to strengthen the muscles. This could be bodyweight, dumbbells, barbells, or resistance machines. Resistance machines are great for beginners as they use a pre-determined movement pattern, making it easier to perform an exercise safely and effectively.
How to use the leg press machine
The leg press is a staple for anyone wanting to strengthen their legs, as it works your quads, hamstrings, and glutes.
- Start by adjusting the seat position, so your legs are comfortable against the foot pad at roughly a 90-degree angle.
- Next up, select a weight. We always recommend starting with a lighter weight to get your form right first.
- Start with a neutral foot position with your feet slightly wider than hip width apart. This distributes the effort between your quads, hamstrings, and glutes.
- Once your feet are in place, hold onto the handles, press your back into the seat pad and keep your core tight.
- Use your leg muscles to press the foot platform away for you, driving your legs out until they are near full extension, always avoiding locking the knees out.
- Slowly return to your starting position, trying to keep the weight from touching the stack. This is one rep.
Once you're familiar with the movement, check out different leg press variations here.
How to use the chest press machine
The chest press is a great to work your chest and triceps, and it can feel a lot less daunting than a bench press or push ups.
- Adjust the seat height so that when you’re sat down, your hands in line with your mid-chest.
- Select a weight. Start with a lighter weight and make sure your form is right – you can add more if it’s too easy.
- Grab the middle of the handles and sit back in the seat pad, keeping your core tight and shoulders back and down.
- Use your chest muscles to press the handles away from your body, moving them out until your arms are near full extension.
- Slowly return the handles to your starting position, trying to keep the weight from touching the stack. This is one rep.
You can learn more about the benefits of the chest press machine here.
How to use the shoulder press machine
Strong shoulders help to build your overall upper body strength, and the shoulder press machine is a great way for beginners to target these muscles.
- Adjust the seat height so that when you’re sat down, your hands are slightly lower than your shoulders.
- Choose a weigh - start with a lighter weight while you get used to the movement.
- Sit back in the seat pad and keep your feet planted on the ground. Keep your shoulder blades pulled back and down.
- Grab the handles in either a neutral or wide grip position, whatever feels right for you.
- Use your shoulder muscles to drive the handles up above your head, until your arms are near full extension. Avoid locking out your elbows.
- Slowly return your arms back to your starting position, trying to keep the weight from touching the stack. This is one rep.
Find more exercises to strengthen your shoulders here.
How to use the assisted pull up machine
Pull ups can be a struggle even for seasoned gym goers. The assisted pull up machine uses weight to counteract your bodyweight, which makes it easier to do the movement. As you get stronger, you’ll be able to progress onto bodyweight push ups.
- Stand up on the steps, using the handles as support, and select a weight using the pin.
- The assisted pull up machine uses the weight to help you do your pull up, so the heavier the weight the easier it will be. For example, if you weigh 70kg and you pick 60kg, you will be lifting 10kg of your own weight during the pull up.
- Now grab the handles slightly wider than shoulder-width apart. There are two handle heights, so go for whichever feels most comfortable for you.
- Next lift one leg at a time and gently kneel onto the knee pad. From here, slowly lower down until your arms are fully extended in a hang position, keeping your hips under your shoulders. This is your starting position.
- Now pull your body upwards, thinking about pulling your elbows down towards the floor.
- Keep your core tight and hips in line with your shoulders until your chin is higher than your hands and then slowly return to your hang position. This is one rep.
Working up to a pull up can take time! Try these back strengthening exercises to aid muscle growth in the meantime.
How to use the prone leg curl machine
Also known as lying leg curl, the prone leg curl machine works the hamstrings and is great for anyone looking to increase their overall leg strength.
- Select a weight. Try starting with a lighter weight to get your form right first.
- Adjust the ankle pad to comfortably sit behind your ankles when lying down on the machine. You may need to get on and off the machine while setting it up.
- Then use the pin to increase or decrease the distance your legs will extend during the curl. The higher the number the smaller the range of motion will be.
- Next up, adjust the forearm pads, increasing or decreasing their height until you can comfortably rest your forearms on them and grip the handles when laid on the machine.
- Align your knees with the red pivot axis and lay forward onto the prone curl machine. Make sure the ankle pad is comfortably sat behind your ankles.
- While holding onto the handles, use your hamstring muscles to curl the ankle pad up towards your glutes, keeping your core tight and hips pressed into the pad.
- Pause at the top and then slowly reverse the movement, trying to keep the weight from touching the stack at the bottom. This is one rep.
How to use the seated row machine
The seated row machine is an incredible piece of equipment for beginners and intermediates alike, as it’s a really effective way to strengthen your back.
- Adjust the seat height so the upper handles are roughly in line with the top of your shoulders and your mid chest against the pad.
- You also need to adjust the chest pad so both hands can comfortably reach the handles when fully extended.
- Choose your weight. We recommend starting with a lighter weight to get your form right first.
- Now put your feet onto the foot rest and grab the handles in either a neutral or wide grip position – whatever feels best for you.
- Keep your shoulders back and down and core tight.
- Pull the handles back towards your side, squeezing your back muscles together and then slowly returning to your starting position. This is one rep.
Use these machines together to build an effective full body workout, or combine them with other resistance machine or free weight exercises to create your own workout – we have plenty of workouts to choose from here. If you need help with any other equipment, why not book an induction or free 1-2-1 on the PureGym App so that one of our Personal Trainers can help.