Take your workout in a new direction

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The latest gym equipment can look a bit daunting, and it’s not always clear where to start.

Cable machines are being replaced with functional fitness rigs, but what are the benefits of this new equipment?

At the YMCA we want you to be healthier and happier, both physically and mentally, and trying something new in your workout is proven to help you get results and keep things interesting.

Find out what options are available by speaking to your friendly gym instructors or personal trainer.

Kettlebells

Russian Kettlebell Swing

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The set up:

- Put a kettlebell 30cm in front of you.

- Place your feet slightly wider than shoulder width stance.

- Push back into your hips (hinging at the waist) and grab the kettlebell with arms straight.

Performance:

- Start the movement by swinging the kettlebell back towards the groin. You should feel a stretch in your hamstrings and groin.

- Reverse the motion by rapidly extending the hips. At the top, think about finishing tall with the abs, glutes, and quads contracted and tight. Be careful not to over extend your back.

- The movement ends with the kettlebell at eye level. Let the kettlebell swing back down and repeat the motion for several repetitions.

The benefits:

The kettlebell swing works all the muscles that run down your back which can help reverse all the negative effects of sitting down all day. It’s dynamic and can increase your aerobic fitness whilst helping you lose weight.

Kettlebell Thruster

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The set up:

- Have your feet slightly wider than shoulder width apart.

- Begin with kettlebells in the finished clean position. This is often referred to as the front rack position. Ensure wrist is neutral and not bent.

Performance:

- Squat down by flexing your hips and knees, and lower your hips between your legs. Maintain a straight back as you lower yourself.

- At the bottom, drive up through the squat by extending your knees and hips. Remember to push through your heels.

-  As you extend through your legs and hips push the kettlebells overhead by extending your arms straight up.

- Make sure you use the momentum from the squat and hip extension to drive the weight up.

The benefits:

The kettlebell thruster is another full body exercise that is great for conditioning. The overhead factor can increase shoulder strength and stability.

Power Bands

Assisted Chin up

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The set up:

-  Loop thick band through pull up bar.

- Hook the band underneath your dominant foot.

-  Grab the pull up bar with a grip slightly wider than shoulder width and palms facing you.

Performance:

- Let yourself hang from the bar and place your free foot on top of the foot that is hooked in – remember to brace your core to ensure there is no swinging.

-  Pull yourself up to the bar. As you do, pull through your back and biceps. Squeeze your shoulder blades at the top of the movement as your chin goes above the bar.

The benefits:

Chin ups aren’t easy but they’re one of the best exercises you can do in the gym. This is because you’re using your lats which are one of the biggest muscle groups in your body, running almost the whole way down your back. Using big muscle groups will help build strength and assist in burning fat. If you can’t complete a chin up give this assisted version a go.

As you progress you can use thinner bands, or reverse the grip and perform a pull up instead.

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Power bands are also a great tool when looking to increase mobility or activate specific muscles groups before you perform movements such as deadlifts or overhead presses. Speak to a trainer to find out how you can use power bands to improve your performance and flexibility.

Battle ropes

Waves

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The set up:

- Stand with your feet shoulder width apart.

- Hold the ropes with straight arms and ensure the ropes don’t have any give in them.

Performance:

- Move your arms up until shoulder height and repeat with other arm.

- Try to build up a rhythm so you will start to create waves with the ropes.

The benefits:

The ropes will provide a high intensity workout due their explosive nature and ability to recruit large muscle groups. They provide the benefits of a high intensity sprint but have a very low impact on your joints.

You can also try using both arms simultaneously and activate more muscles at the same time.

With Battle Ropes you want to keep your sessions short and intense so begin with a simple circuit of:

- 20 seconds of waves – alternating arms
- Rest 20 seconds
- 20 seconds of waves – both at same time
- Rest 20 seconds

Repeat four to six times.