A Beginners’ Guide to Gym Equipment

Many first-timers to the gym have faced the condition of going to the gym and not knowing even the names of the equipment. Doesn’t that feel embarrassing? Well, nothing to worry about, that happens to a lot of people. And here’s the guide to the basic things you’ll find at a gym.

Basically, you can find three types of equipment in a gym- free weights, machines, and other accessories.

Free Weights

Free weights are the most common bodybuilding equipment found in a gym. These are named “free weights” because there are no attached cables, pulleys, pins or other weight stacks. Some of the common free weights are barbells, dumbbells and weight plates. Free weights are used in curls, squats, bench presses, shoulder presses, deadlifts and many other exercises.

#1 Barbells

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A barbell is the most common “strongman” accessory. It consists of a 4-7 feet long iron rod with weight plates of various weights placed at the ends in a balanced manner. Barbells are used in exercises by holding it up in both hands.

Barbells are of two types. The top-quality barbells are the Olympic barbells, which consists of a 7 feet long bar weighing 45 lbs. However smaller versions of the Olympic barbells are available, with bars having the length of 4-6 feet. Besides the Olympic barbells, standard ones also exist, which are typically used in the home gym settings.

#2 Dumbbells

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A dumbbell is practically a short barbell, usually 10-15 inches long. Generally, a dumbbell is taken in each hand in dumbbell exercises. Dumbbells are the most ideal type of equipment for the beginners.

Besides fixed weight dumbbells, adjustable dumbbells are also available having small collars that clip on the end of the dumbbells to hold the weight plates. Whereas preset fixed weight dumbbells are convenient for professional gyms, the adjustable ones are cheaper and ideal for a home gym setting.

#3 Weight Plates

Weight Plates
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Weight plates are generally made of iron; however plastic weight plates are now commercially available. The iron plates again found of Olympic and standard qualities- both differing in the thickness of the bar to use with them.

Weight plates are available for a vast range of weights, most generally from 2.5 lbs. to 100 lbs. They are attached with adjustable dumbbell or barbell bars and collared at the ends.


Machines are the ones to provide a vast array of exercises. They can focus on a singular group of muscles or can work on a whole-body tone-up.

Machines have their pros and cons. They are generally more convenient than the free weights, but free weights are more effective than machines in muscular stimulations. Hence using both the machines and the free weights are the best way to exercise.

#1 Treadmills

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Treadmills are the most common gym machines. Generally, a flat or inclined pavement moving at controllable speed, this machine helps to walk, jog or run on the spot, typically with support bars and a monitoring technology calculating the bio-calorimetric data. An ideal cardio and waist training machine and an effective way to burn calories, treadmills are a must to begin your workout regime.

#2 Leg-Press Machine

Leg-Press Machine
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One of the best leg exercise machines is the leg-press machine. It is generally set on a 45 degrees angle, with weights being pushed in an upward arc by legs. Leg-press gives an optimum exercise for all the leg muscles, especially the thigh muscles.

#3 Lat Pulldown Machine

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The lat pulldown machine grants an exercise similar to a chin-up. However in a chin-up, one should be able to lift their own body weight. But as many are not capable of doing so, this machine is a great alternative for them. This machine works on back muscles and the triceps.

#4 Pec-Deck Machine

Pec-Deck Machine
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The pec-deck machine is a great choice to work on the chest and the pectoral muscles. The user has to pull the decks using their neck, pectoral and forearm muscles. Some pec-decks contain handles to hold and pull the decks together, while others contain vertical forearm pads.

#5 Cable Jungle

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The cable jungle can be called the most versatile machine ever. They contain a vast number of cables, pulleys, bars, and benches placed strategically. This machine provides exercise for almost the entire body. Several people can use this machine at once.

Accessories and Other Equipment

A wide assortment of accessories and other equipment are essential for a gym. Some of them are mentioned below.

#1 Benches

The most common and the most important assisting equipment in a gym are the benches. Benches are used in a wide range of exercises, the majority of them involving the barbells and the dumbbells. The benches allowing barbell exercises comes with a barbell rack attached with it whereas benches without racks are used for dumbbell exercises. Benches can be flat, inclined or declined as per need. The inclination or declination angles are most generally adjustable in commercially available pieces.

#2 Swiss Balls

If there is any ingenious equipment in the gym, it has to be the Swiss ball. Also called the stability ball, it can be used in all the exercises in which a bench is used. The specialty of the Swiss ball is that it can move and roll around- hence there is a lot scope to improve body stability and balance and strengthens the stabilizer muscles.

#3 Bars

Bars are another type of fixed equipment that provides you with ample workout. Usually, bar exercises involve imparting the pressures on the parallel bars and lifting the whole body weight. Exercises like dips, chin-ups can be done using the bars.

Gym Wears

One thing that seriously matters is how you feel while you exercise. And that involves the choice of your gym wear. Although vests are a good option for gym work, the best option for workout rounds are casual tees (sweat-wicking ones preferred) with regular shorts or track pants.

If you are too conscious about your body you can go in for some comfortable custom design t-shirts, keep in mind though that they are up to gym quality. Baggy t-shirts should be avoided at all costs.

There are still many instruments and stuff you will come across at the gym, but now you are ready to go. So have a nice warm up and go for your rounds! What are you waiting for?

Author Bio

Jessica Smith is an avid reader who enjoys getting lost in the world of books. Holding on to her passion for fitness, she is also caught by the fashion bug. She has been writing for science gifts for some time now. A traveller by heart, she enjoys meeting new people and experiencing new cultures.

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