In the world of fitness, nothing is reinvented…except class mash-ups and fitness trends. (Piloxing or Goat Yoga, anyone?) But a dumbbell is a dumbbell is a dumbbell. Right?
Not necessarily. If you’ve hit a plateau in the gym, it’s time to start looking at your equipment with fresh eyes and bring a bit more function to your routine.
Let’s look at some common gym equipment and how we can utilize these in entirely new ways:
Rubber Bumper Plates
Though great for lifting (and dropping) weights, bumper plates can also be used for carrying, rowing, twisting, and core. Instead of simply slapping these bad boys on a barbell, grab a few and try the following exercises:
Plate Drag: Find an ab mat and load up with heavy bumper plates. Face the mat, bend your legs, and grab the ends of the mat and drag backwards for 100 yards, then turn and pull back to start.
Plate Row to Carry: Hold a 45-lb. bumper plate in both hands and bend forward from hips with a flat back. With a slight bend in knees, contract abs and use back to row plate to chest and then extend back to start. Complete for reps.
Plate Ground to Overhead: Stand in front of a 25-lb. to 45-lb. plate. Squatting down, grip both sides of the plate and pick it up to shoulder height, then extend arms overhead as you stand. Keeping core tight, lower back to shoulders then ground, continuing fluid movement for all reps.
One of the most useful pieces of equipment in a gym, medicine balls come in an array of shapes and sizes. Often used for warm-ups and abs, med balls can extend beyond your typical twists or slams. Some of our favorite movements include:
Wall Balls: Stand facing a wall, holding a medium-sized wall ball. With the ball at shoulder height, lower into a squat, pressing knees out over toes. As you stand, toss the ball up toward the wall. As you catch the ball on the way down, immediately lower back into a squat and then explode back up to throw ball onto wall. Continue for reps.
Med Ball Carry: Gripping a heavy medicine ball, load up on one shoulder and perform a Farmer’s Carry down and back an open stretch. If you want an added bonus, try holding one heavy medicine ball on the stepmill, switching shoulders every few minutes.
Ceiling Toss: Grip a heavy ball and hold at chest height. Look up and throw the slam ball straight up as hard and high as you can. Catch and repeat.
Cable Cross-Over Machine
Perhaps one of the most dynamic pieces of gym equipment, you can work the entire body thanks to numerous cable attachments. But before you do another lat pull-down or rope biceps curl, consider mixing it up in the following ways:
Hamstring Fall: Face a lat pull-down machine and hook your heels under knee pad, with your knees balancing on bench. Keeping hamstrings locked and core tight and straight, begin to lower yourself forward toward floor in one straight line, contracting hamstrings. Once you cannot go further, slowly pull yourself back to start. Repeat.
Shoulder Hang: Grab a pull-up bar with an overhand grip, but instead of doing a pull-up, simply hang, letting shoulders completely relax. Work up to one to two minutes before or after a workout for enhanced range of motion and improved shoulder mobility.
Cable Punch: Grab a cable pulley in the lowest position without a handle on a light weight. With cable in one hand, punch straight out and pivot the body. Return to start, repeat, and then switch.
The next time you step in the gym, begin to look at equipment in new ways to shake up the body, enhance results, and infuse some creativity into your traditional routine.