The early months of the year, when people still haven’t quite given up their resolutions, can be challenging at the gym. Similarly, trying to go directly after work when everyone else is going can also be tricky. There are people everywhere and most of the equipment you may wish to use is occupied.
Typically, the cardio machines, bench presses and the squat areas have the most traffic in gyms. However, none of these obstacles should discourage or turn you off from going to the gym. There are ways to get the same quality workout despite not being able to use all the machines you want. Here are some tips…
Learn the crowd and re-arrange your workout
As creatures of habit, people tend to stick to what they know. Maybe there are a couple people who use the lat pull-down machine at the same time. You can arrange your workout so that you can use that equipment at a different point in your overall routine. Also, pay attention to what days people are training certain muscle groups. Maybe Mondays all the bench presses are being used, but other days of the week they will be free. Changing the times you work out helps as well. Mornings, lunch hour and weekends can be less busy. These times and days may be better days to do certain workouts.
Switch up the workouts
There are different ways to work your body in regard to equipment. There are cables, dumbbells, barbells, bands, hex bars, etc, which can add some variety to your workout. If the bench press is being used, try using dumbbells. If a bench is being used, try a dumbbell press from the floor. This is great for practicing the basics like gaging where your arms are, contracting your back when you descend and contracting the pecs.
If the weights are being used, use the machines or cables. If the straight bars are all being used for deadlifting and you want to deadlift, use the hex bar. You will get the same kind of workout. In fact, for those of you with bad backs, the hex bar puts less stress on it.
You can benefit from the different equipment available. For example, the bench press is a bilateral movement that trains your general pec region. When you switch to dumbbells, you’re working the same muscles, however dumbbells allow you to get greater range of motion and require you to use your core for stability. Both variations are beneficial. This is true for many exercises. Another example is squatting. Although nothing replaces the standard back squat, using dumbbells or kettlebells for front squats or doing half squats and lunges are great ways to activate those leg muscles! Lastly, cardio equipment tends to be the most popular equipment. With the direction that the fitness industry is going, fewer are seen at the gym. If the treadmill is being used, for example, try the rowing machine or a cycling machine. Another suggestion can be to superset or tri-set your workouts to keep up your heart rate.
Attend a class
Classes are great because they remove the thinking side of exercise. The instructor has prepared the workout already and will push you through it no matter what. This could be a great way to meet new people, switch up your routine and to get you into the gym despite it being crowded. Most gyms even offer classes for different fitness levels!
Hire a trainer
Trainers know their gym at all hours and can take the stress of a busy gym off your shoulders. They can create a program that will be best for your goals. They also are ready to improvise if certain equipment is not available. This improvisation won’t take you off track.
These are a couple of ways to get around a busy gym and still have an effective workout. Imagine each style of working out and each piece of equipment as a tool in your toolbox. If used effectively, you will reach your goals. Take a step back and see how you can work around anything that falls in your way instead of saying “I won’t do that today.”
Megan Niño is a kinesiologist and personal trainer through her business Vigor Vida Fitness & Wellness. She is an energetic and positive person who prides herself on teaching others to find empowerment in their lives through fitness. She works out at Optimal Sport 1315 in Center City and Optimal Gym in Queens Village. She also offers in-home training in Philadelphia and on the Main Line.