Posted on 08/22/2014 at 11:08 AM by YMCA of Greater Des Moines
BY Dawn Sargario Pauls, Special to the Register
The gym can be an intimidating and mysterious place, particularly when it comes to the equipment.
A lot of the gear is self-explanatory, but some are tougher to figure out. You may have bypassed a few in the past, unwilling to make yourself a guinea pig in a room full of strangers. (Or, more specifically, a very embarrassed guinea pig in a room full of strangers.)
Erin Olson, wellness director at the Waukee Family YMCA, is here to help. She decoded the mysteries of some of the weird-looking gym equipment you’ve avoided until now. Incorporate them into your workouts for more of a challenge and to mix things up. Here, Olson explains how to use each item and shows several exercises you can do.
What it looks like: A squishy dome that sits on a flat, circular platform.
What do I use it for? Exercising on the Bosu — either on the bouncy dome or on its flat side — challenges your core, helps improve balance and increases strength, Olson said. Standing on the flat side provides a more unstable surface, which makes for a more challenging workout.
• Doing moves like squats, bicep curls, exercises for triceps and shoulder presses on the Bosu engages your whole body, Olson said.
Mountain climber using a Bosu
1. Put the Bosu, dome side down, on the floor. Get on the floor and grasp the sides of the platform with both hands.
2. Get into push-up position on your toes, stretching your legs straight behind you.
3. Bring your right knee toward the chest. Return it to its original position. Repeat on the left side.
4. Repeat, alternating legs.
What it looks like: A “noodle” you would use at the pool or lake.
What do I use it for? “It’s a great alternative to getting that massage,” Olson said, helping to relieve soreness and stiffness, and breaking up fibrous tissue in muscle.
While used mostly for the legs, she said, it’s also used on hamstrings, quadriceps, glutes, calves, the back and IT band.
1. Place the foam roller under the body part.
2.Roll on it until you find that place of tension or soreness.
3. Stay on the spot for five seconds. Roll off the spot. Repeat three to five times, or to your comfort level.
What it looks like: Well, a ball. They can weigh anywhere from 2 pounds and up, Olson said.
What do I use it for? They bring added resistance and variety to workouts, including plyometric and core exercises.
• Hold a ball while doing squats or lunges to add more resistance.
Russian twist: Using a medicine ball adds more resistance to this core exercise.
1. Sit on the floor, with both knees bent and feet off the floor. Make approximately a 45-degree angle with your body and legs. Keep your back straight.
2. Holding the ball, rotate your upper body, bringing the ball to your right hip and touching the floor with the ball. Repeat on the left side.
3. Continue alternating sides.
Advanced push-up: Your triceps and core will get more of a workout with this version. Do three sets of 10 to 12 reps.
1. Get in push-up position, either on the knees or toes, with hands under the shoulders.
2. With your right hand on a medicine ball, place your left hand on the floor. Lower your chest toward the floor.
3. As you push yourself up, roll the ball from your right hand to the left hand. Place your left hand on the ball and your right hand on the floor.
4. Repeat, rolling the ball from one hand to the other every time you push yourself up.
Wall ball: Try this exercise for a total body workout.
1. Stand facing a wall, holding the ball. Get into a squat position.
2. Stand up, while at the same time throwing the ball as high as you can against the wall.
3. Catch the ball and repeat.
What it looks like: A step stool. They can range in height from about 1 to 3 feet. Or you can make your own box, by stacking aerobic steps, or using a step stool or the steps in your home.
What do I use it for? “The box is great for your plyometrics, great to work your power and endurance and upper body strength,” Olson said.
Start with a lower height, and work your way up. When jumping onto the box, land on it softly, with both feet, bending both knees. It’s a move that’s just as much physical as it is mental.
“A lot of it is conquering that fear of whether you’ll make it onto the box,” Olson said. Practice your landing by jumping on the ground first.
Box jump: This cardio move will get your heart pumping. Try for 20 reps, or do as many as you can.
1. Stand on the floor next to the box. Get into a squat position.
2. Jump up, landing with both feet on the box, bending both knees when landing. Then step down.
Step-ups: This strength move works your quadriceps and hamstring. Do 10 reps on each side, alternating legs.
1. Step right foot onto the box.
2. Bring the left leg up, bringing the left knee to hip level.
3. Lower the left leg, stepping down to the ground. Bring the right foot off the box to the ground.
4. Repeat on other side
5. Continue, alternating sides.
Triceps dip: Do this upper body strength move for three sets of 10 to 12 reps.
1. Face away from the box. Grip the edge of the box with both hands, knuckles faced outward. Bend legs at a 90-degree angle, or for more of a challenge, place them straight out in front of you.
2. Lower yourself down as far as you can go, then push back up until arms are straight.
Decline push-up: Do three sets of 10 to 12 reps.
1. Get in a push-up position, but put your toes on the box to elevate your feet.
2. Lower your chest toward the floor, then push yourself up.
What it looks like: A long, thick rope that looks like it belongs out on the docks, not in the gym.
What do I use it for: “It’s a fun, quick, alternate workout for your arms, legs, back and core,” Olson said. Ropes come in different weights.
The wave: Go for 30 seconds, take a 10 second break, repeat. Go for three to five minutes.
1. Wrap the rope around a fixed object, like a pole. Grasp one end of the rope in each hand, with arms straight down. Bend legs into a squat position.
2. Lift the right arm to shoulder height. Bring the arm down. Repeat with left arm.
3. Alternate arms, going as fast as you can, making a wave motion with the ropes.
Rope slam: Go for 30 seconds, take a 10-second break, repeat. Go for three to five minutes.
1. Follow step 1 above.
2. Lift the right arm in an outward, semicircle motion, slamming the rope as hard as you can into the ground. Repeat with left arm.
3. Continue the motion. You can alternate arms, stay on one arm or use both arms at the same time.