The array of gym machines, free weights and exercise ideas in a well-equipped gym can be quite intimidating. If you aren’t sure where to start, here are three basic moves for your upper body.
Pull-ups (that means palms facing away from you) to a chin bar are a well-known exercise for shoulders and torso. There can be work to do before you can get as far as a full pull-up.
The assisted pull-up machine is a great way to train for the full exercise. It uses a counterbalance to reduce your effective weight, meaning that there is less to lift. Once you have the strength to support your full weight, progress to the bar. Keep hands just over shoulder width apart, pull yourself up, hold for 10 seconds and then lower under control. You’ve done it!
This mid-back exercise makes use of your body weight from a hanging bar. The bar should be at waist height, and can be either on a Smith machine or in a solid stable rack.
With hands a little over shoulder-width apart, hang from the bar with a straight body and heels on the ground. Flex elbows and squeeze shoulder blades as you pull up until your chest touches the bar. Lower under control and repeat.
This shoulder exercise needs only a bench and a correctly weighted barbell, so it is a great alternative if the machines are busy. Pick up the barbell with palms facing away from you, and raise it above your head with arms locked. Lower to your collarbone and repeat. Inhale as the bar goes down, exhale as it goes up.
Think of it as ‘pressing’ upwards, and make sure that the barbell does not go behind your neck. Doing that risks shoulder injury.
Don’t be afraid to ask staff for help. After all, no-one is born knowing how gym machines work, or the safe way to perform a workout. Learn the proper techniques, reduce the chance of injury and enjoy your time at the gym.
i remember the days when I needed to do assisted pull ups (when I was young and puny). Long gone now, but I remember it didn't take too long to achieve some proper pull ups.