5 Gym Machines You Need To Stop Being Intimidated By

I don’t know about you guys, but I always feel a little weird in the weights/machine section at the gym because I’m usually the only woman amongst a gaggle of retired frat bros who I don’t want to talk to, look at, or breathe near, and yet they somehow always manage to pump iron right next to me. Truth be told, I don’t really spend a ton of time in this area because it’s always been a little bit intimidating to me, but after realizing that I lack the upper body strength to lift my MacBook air, I did a reassessment of my workout regimen. So, I swallowed my insecurities, wommaned up and asked a fitness, expert to help me become the most Beyoncé circa Coachella 2018 version of myself (while still eating sugar, dairy, and carbs). I asked Mike Clancy, lifestyle coach, certified personal trainer, and founder of MikeClancyTraining, about which gym machines I should stop being afraid of and start using . Mike knows what the f*ck he’s talking about, so if you’re trying to get strong for 2020, listen up and stop tiptoeing around these pieces of gym equipment.

1. Yoga Ball

There are so many things you can do with a yoga ball that have absolutely nothing to do with yoga. Clancy says, “Consider using the yoga (Swiss) ball for ab exercises, since the roundness allows your spine to fully flex and extend, unlike crunches and sit-ups. The ball is also great for providing support for your lower back when you are curling up and down.” As a new fan of the yoga ball, I’ll share a few of my favorite exercises. Get in the plank position with the tops of your feet on the ball. Slowly lift your butt in the air and lower. The ball will roll toward your straight arms with every lift and back with every lower. This targets every part of your abs and you will be so sore the next day that breathing will be a chore.

Another option is to lay on your back with your legs extended in front of you and hold the ball between your ankles. Reach for something behind you for stability if you need to, and do everything in your power to keep your lower back on the ground as you lift the ball straight up and back down. Your upper abs will be screaming to make it stop, but they’ll thank you when you’re rocking those cute little muscle indents. Lastly, if you’re having an off day and want to have a more chill ab day, sit on the ball with your back as straight as you can. Put your hands behind your head and lean back enough so that your back is parallel to the floor. Use your abs to pull you up without breaking your posture or letting your elbows cave in.

2. Hip Extension Machine

Do you guys know about these? Not all gyms have them, but if my Murray Hill sh*thole Crunch does, I feel like a lot of gyms have to. I’ve also learned that, unlike treadmills and rowing machines, all hip extender machines are a little different. Mine, for instance, is a padded metal pole with hand grips behind it and pedals in front of it. Am I creating a brilliant visual or failing miserably? I realize this kind of sounds like I’m describing a torture device. Anyway, so one of your feet is on the ground and the other is on the pedal. Bend both of your knees slightly and push on the pedal with the ball of your foot. You don’t need to push back really far, maybe just a few inches. This targets your lower ass, which creates that scoop of ice cream shape. Isn’t that all we want in life? You can also adjust the pedal so it’s next to you instead of behind you and do the same exercise to the side which works your side glutes.

If you’ve ever taken a barre class, this machine is like the glutes section, but way more effective because there’s resistance with the machine. It’s also a lot easier on your joints than trying to lift your leg in the air while putting all of your body weight on your wrists and one knee. Ouch! 

3. Cable Biceps Bar

The bicep machine is pretty self-explanatory, but I will walk you through it just in case you need a little bit of motivation. The machine is pretty small, which makes it way less intimidating that those terrifying full-body workout machines. So you set the weight you want to lift, grab the bar, and do your bicep curls. I usually start with eight pounds and work my way up from there. Clancy says, “Try using the bar attachment on the cables for performing strict bicep curls. By keeping your elbows in a fixed position, the bar will help build and sustain tension in your arms, dramatically increasing the effect compared to normal sets.”

The key is to go slowly so that you’re lifting and lowering with muscle, not momentum. You can bend your arms in a 90-degree angle starting at your hips and do a half curl or fully extend your arms down your lefts for the lower and fully bend them for the lift.  If you’re not feeling it, don’t push it. 

4. Hanging Leg Raise

This is another ab machine that targets your lower abs and it is very, very effective—speaking from experience aka my sore abs. The hanging leg raise is a machine that’s shaped like a “T” with padded poles for you to put your arms on while your legs and abs do all the work. Your arms are bent in a 90-degree angle in front of you while your legs are fully extended beneath you. 

Slowly lift your legs without separating or bending them and slowly lower. According to Clancy, “The flexion of your hips using straight legs will highlight and target the ever-popular lower abs, and get you one step closer to the V in your stomach. Lean back and slowly raise and lower your legs to really enhance the contraction.” You can also do this same exercise with your legs extending on a slight angle to work your side abs. And if you’re really feeling yourself, you can bend your knees at your chest and extend in front of you without putting them down. I’ve only seen one person do that and she was my trainer at the time, so you may need to work up to that one.

5. TRX Bands

These are fab. They take up no space and are actually really easy to use. If you don’t want to do push-ups on the ground for whatever reason, TRX bands are for you. You can perform two different types of push-ups with these, and both are as painful as hell to do. But it’s the kind of pain that will later remind you that you’re getting strong. Clancy says, “Those yellow TRX bands are great for calisthenics and bodyweight exercises because they move in all directions, the movement options are endless. In particular, TRX bands are phenomenal for doing rows and other pulling motions. You can incorporate fully-body, multi-joint movements such as a squat-to-row, or a reverse lunge to one-leg knee lifts.” If all of that sounds really confusing, just remember that if YouTube can teach you how to expertly execute a smokey eye, it can teach you how to do a one-knee leg lift. 

I personally only really use the bands for arm exercises and sometimes abs, but because they are just two bands hanging from the ceiling, you can really use them for anything your heart desires. Get swole.

Images: Unsplash; Shutterstock (5)

6 Moves To Get Your Arms Ready For Tank Top Season

Contrary to everything you’re seeing outside your window, warm weather is on the horizon and so is sleeveless season. You may have been able to pile yourself in layers of cashmere and Canada Goose since October, but sooner or later the layers come off and your arms become exposed to sunlight for the first time in months. These six moves will sculpt your arms in time for summer, and you’ll thank me when you looked toned AF in a few short weeks. You can incorporate this arm workout into your own workout, or you can do each one after the other and repeat another 2-3 times as a circuit.

1. Dumbbell Curl To Press

The curl to press refers to two exercises placed in one movement, which include the bicep curl and the shoulder press. Both are relatively simple, but by working your bicep and shoulders in one movement, you’re toning the front of your arm and the top of it, so it’s basically a two-in-one arm workout. Start by standing up, holding a dumbbell in each hand, and first make sure you can do both exercises with the weight you’re choosing. I’d recommend anywhere from 8-12 pounds, maybe 15 if you’re a boss. With the dumbbells hanging next to your thighs, keep your elbow tucked in and your chest up as you curl the weight up until it reaches shoulder height. Then, press it upwards until your arms are fully extended above your head. The curl and press together is one rep. Do 10 of these, and remember to stand straight without locking your knees.

2. Tricep Dips

I recently did these in Krystal from The Bachelor’s workout, and honestly it reminded me how killer of an arm workout tricep dips can be if you’re doing them right. Tricep dips use your body weight to tone your arms, and all you need is some sort of bench to sit on. You’ll need to position your hands about shoulder-width apart on the bench, and slide your butt off the bench with your legs extended in front of you (bent or straight, depending on your stability). Then, bend your arms to bring your butt toward the floor and hold for a second at the bottom. Straighten your arms to bring your butt back up, and continue up and down for the entire interval. Remember to keep your neck forward and make sure your butt is only a few inches from the bench.

3. Diamond Push-Ups

Diamond push-ups are also known as a closed-grip push-up or tricep push-ups, and they’re pretty tough. If you need to do these from your knees, go for it. The idea here is to do a push-up, but instead of placing your hands outward, you’ll keep them in a diamond shape on the ground in front of you, directly under your chest. Touch your pointer fingers and thumbs together on the ground and extend your arms straight. Then, while keeping your back straight, allow your elbows to bend, lowering your chest to the ground. Press back up to full arm extension, and that’s one rep. Aim for 8-10 of these.

4. Rear Delt Fly

If you’re wondering WTF a rear delt is, it’s referring to the rear of your deltoid, aka the back of your arm/shoulder area. Most people do these in a bent over position to hit the muscles in their back with the movement, but you can also do them standing up to just work your shoulders. Hold two LIGHT dumbbells (think 3-8 pounds) and bend slightly at your waist. Then, keeping your torso still and your arms slightly bent, lift the weights out toward the sides of your body, keeping your arms parallel to the floor. Hold for a second at the top and then bring the weights back down. Since these are a lighter and slightly faster movement, try doing 12 reps.

5. Plank-Ups

Plank-ups are great because they function as both an arm workout and an ab workout in one exercise. Kind of a game-changer. Start in a high plank with your arms on the floor directly under your shoulders. Then, bend one arm to bring your elbow to the floor, and then the other arm, ending up in a forearm plank. Then, push each arm up to the starting position, and continue going up and down from hand to forearm for 45 seconds. Remember to keep your core tight and your hips square while going up and down with your arms. You may need to spread your feet out wider than you would in a typical plank.

6. Battle Ropes

Battle ropes are one of those exercises that you see fitness people do on Instagram, roll your eyes, and keep scrolling. BUT, they’re low-key not that hard to figure out and they’re amazing for giving you a killer arm workout while getting your heart rate up. If your gym has battle ropes, take advantage. Play around with different movements, holding one rope in each hand or holding on with both hands. Make waves with your arms while keeping your elbows tight to your body and keeping your legs slightly bent. Try doing these in 30 second intervals. Your arms will get tired super fast, but try to fight through it. You’ll thank me when your arms look phenom in every top this season.

Images: Bruce Mars /Pexels; Giphy (5); Tumblr (1)

The Ultimate Butt Lift Workout For People Who Can’t Afford Injections

We’re living in a society that convinces us to drink apple cider vinegar to get skinny and delete Snapchat because Kylie Jenner isn’t feeling the new update. It’s a weird time to be alive, so let’s just pretend this whole perky butt fitness trend is normal. Everybody’s trying to get that butt lift look, whether it’s because your boyfriend stalks Kim Kardashian or you’re deep down a #bootygainz Instagram rabbit hole. If you can’t spend a million dollars on plastic surgery and you’re looking to do something about your tragically flat butt, stop Googling weird hacks and just do this workout. Do each move in the circuit and try to aim for 3-4 rounds total. And like, you’re welcome in advance if you can’t sit down tomorrow.

1. Goblet Squats

Goblet squats sound scary, but they’re just regular squats that you do while holding a kettlebell for added weight. You can also hold a dumbbell if you prefer. Stand holding a kettlebell at your chest (15-40 pounds) with the handle facing downward. Spread your legs to at least shoulder width, because the idea of this move is that it provides additional butt lift by shifting some of the work from your quads to your glutes. With your weight in your heels, squat down until your hips are at (or below) your knees, and remember to keep your chest and head up to avoid hurting your back. Pause for a second at the bottom, then come back up while squeezing your butt to activate your muscles. 10-12 reps should do it here, depending on the weight.

2. Cable Kickbacks

The cable machines might look intimidating if you usually stick to body weight or free weight movements, but I swear that it’s so easy to use and you’ll get the hang of it really fast. For cable kickbacks, you’ll need to make sure the head of the cable is a foot or two above the ground. Once you have it at the right height, put your right leg into the hook and adjust your weight (anywhere from 10-20 pounds should work). Holding onto the cable pole or anything stable in front of you, kick your leg leg backwards, squeezing your butt at the top. Then, slowly bring the leg back to the ground and repeat, switching legs once you’ve completed 10-12 reps. Also, if you feel these in your lower back, try doing them on your hands and knees instead. You can still get similar butt lift benefits.

3. TRX Lunge To Knee Raise

These can be done without a TRX as well, but holding onto the straps gives you additional support and ensures you’re isolating the glutes of the working leg. Holding onto the TRX strap, lunge backwards with one leg, bringing it to a 90 degree angle behind you. Then, bring the leg back up, raising your knee up until your waist, or higher if you’re super flexible. The brilliant idea is that you’re actually hitting two muscles at once by lunging back and then bringing the knee up. You’ll get more out of these if you go a little slower, so reduce your reps to 6-8 if you find them especially challenging. And, of course, don’t forget to do both legs.

4. Single Leg Bridges

Glute bridges are a classic butt lift exercise, and by raising one leg at a time, you can target your glute muscles even more by really focusing on each side. This also means that if both your butt cheeks aren’t sore AF tomorrow, you were totally working harder on one side. Lying on a mat, keep your hands at your sides and your knees bent out in front of you. Then, extend one leg as you lift your butt off the ground, squeezing your glutes and lifting your hips toward the ceiling. Think about pushing down with your left heel as you lift. Do 10 reps on one leg and then switch to the other.

5. Jump Squats

Jump squats are a plyometric movement, so they’re different than the slower reps you’ve been doing so far, but it’s been scientifically proven that you’ll get a better butt lift by combining high rep and low rep movements together in one workout. AKA, we’re obviously doing these even though they suck. Jump squats are exactly what they sound like, and you won’t need any weight for this move. Start in a bodyweight squat, keeping your chest high and your knees behind your ankles. Then, jump up explosively, straightening out your legs at the top, and landing back in your squat position. Your rep count doesn’t matter as much here, so try to just keep jumping for 30 seconds without rest.

6. Wall Sit

This last move will cause you to feel a slow, painful burn in your thighs and butt, so this is your chance to blast that aggressive Kanye song you save for the final sprint. It’s also the last exercise of the circuit, so don’t give up until it’s confirmed that you won’t be able to walk tomorrow. The idea here is simple. You have to find a wall and sit in a squat with your back against the wall and your hands out in front of you. Make sure you’re sitting low and don’t cheat yourself here. Try to hold for 45 seconds, or go for the full minute if you’re psychotic ambitious. For an extra super awesome fun bonus challenge, try extending one leg for 10 seconds before switching to the other one.

Images: Charlotte Winslow / Tumblr, Giphy (5), 

4 Exercises That Are Wasting Your Time, And 4 Better Ones

As a gym-goer (you cannot visit this site without being a member of a gym that costs almost as much as your monthly rent), you’re surely aware of the CrossFit-ization of our once-great nation’s fitness fanatics. This is largely bad, because it’s caused many a dork to delude himself into thinking that exercise is a sport in and of itself, despite their newfound quadriceps making them no better at hitting a baseball or sinking a free throw than they were back when they were getting picked last for grade school kickball. There is, however, one silver lining: the rise of “functional fitness,” i.e., exercises that actually get you in better shape.

Now, everyone’s living that #squatlife, even novices. Which is great! But for people just starting out, it’s sometimes wise to work up to an exercise before loading up a couple hundo’ on the olympic platform and deadlifting until you shit out your own colon. Those people can gently introduce themselves through modified exercises, colloquially called “modifiers.” This is also great , but the problem is that not all modifiers are created equal. I’ve put together a list of popular “functional” exercises, the most common modifiers, and better alternatives for people who want to get Khloé Kardashian’s bod without the ass injections.

The Exercises

Push-Ups

Before there was such a thing as “plank,” everyone else knew it as “the top of a fucking push-up.” With your body taut, feet together, and your hands underneath (and roughly as wide as) your shoulders, lower yourself until your chest jussssst touches the ground, and push back up (hence the name!). It’s a great way to build strength and endurance in your chest, shoulders, and triceps, and it involves core and stabilizing muscles in ways that machines and even free weight exercises don’t. Unfortunately, because God knew damn well that men would be insecure as hell, he blessed us with naturally superior upper-body strength that makes these a breeze—but lots of women might find them difficult.

Push Up Exercises

The Modifiers

Bad: Partial/Kneeling Push-Ups

I don’t mind knee push-ups, which I’ll get to in a second. The bigger problem is that I’ve noticed some trainers/online fitness idiots recommending women instead do push-ups on their feet, only going “as far as they can,” i.e., about halfway. This is bullshit. You wouldn’t do half a squat, half a bicep curl, or give half of a hand job and declare it “the same as the real thing,” would you? I sincerely hope not, otherwise you are WEAK and/or bad company in uncrowded movie theaters.

Better: Elevated Push-Ups

The key with push-ups is that they get harder the smaller the angle between your body and the ground gets. Ergo, instead of doing 15 half push-ups and fucking off to the juice bar or whatever, find a way to elevate your hands. Every gym has some of those aerobics platforms for old ladies that you can stack about 18 inches high. If that’s still too hard, grab a weight bench or even a low wall and perform the motion with good form. As you get stronger, lower the platform. Kneeling push-ups should actually be your last step on this journey. Basically, if you can perform 15 or so push-ups at your current level of assistance, it’s time to lower your angle. There’s still a decent jump from kneeling to actual push-ups, in which case it’s totally fine to start out on your toes and drop to your knees as needed to finish the set.

Elevated Push Up Exercises

The Exercises

Squats

Ah, squats. They’re the foundational exercises for every THOT who gets fired from Panera and decides they’re going to start a #fitspo Instagram—and tbh, they should be foundational for everyone. Resting a weighted bar across your shoulders as high up as your trapezius muscles will allow, stand with your feet shoulder-width apart and toes pointed slightly out. Drop your butt back and down, feeling as though there’s a string pulling your head upward as you drop your ass as low to the ground as possible. Get the crease in your hips at or below your knees before extending from your heels back to full height. It’s a MONSTER exercise for your entire lower body, but not everyone is ready to step into a squat cage with all those meatheads flexing and milling about. Plus, even just the 45-pound bar can be a lot for newbies, and a lack of trapezius muscles can make it uncomfortable.

Squat Exercises

The Modifiers

Bad: The Sled/Leg Press

This is that big contraption where you lay down in a recumbent position near the ground, using your legs to push the weight out and away from you. You feel like an absolute GOD on this machine, because even fairweather gym-goers can put up solid weight. The problem? It fucking sucks. For starters, it’s the opposite of “functional”—of course you can push a lot of weight when you’re braced against something solid, but do you envision a situation where you’ll ever be lying on your back and have to leg-press a Toyota? I sure hope not. What’s worse, it can genuinely and sincerely fuck up your back six ways from Sunday. Do you want to spend the rest of your life walking around like that? Hell no.

Better: The Hack Squat

I’m tempted to include dumbbell squats here too, because there’s nothing wrong with those as exercises on their own. But if you really want to prepare for the squat cage, the hack squat machine is your friend. It’s that machine usually located somewhere near the leg press that looks like a medieval torture device, except it’s anything but. Load on an experimental amount of weight, settle your shoulders into the cradle, and use the levers to unlock it. Making sure you place your feet so that your knees don’t extend too far out over your toes, lower yourself as low as possible, just like a real squat. The beauty is that it does a much better job of simulating the movement, and if you get stuck it’s easy to lock the machine and bail out (plus, everyone’s too busy herniating their spines on the sled so it’s always open). It’s kinda tough to determine how much weight you’re pushing because of the angle, but I’d say that if you get to a point where you can do 8-10 good hack squats with 100 pounds on the rack, you’re ready to move to the cage.

Hack Squat Exercises

The Exercises

Pull-Ups

I probably don’t need to explain pull-ups too much: grab onto a bar/rings/the skid of the helicopter with which terrorists are trying to abduct the president, and pull yourself up until your chin reaches or passes the bar. There are any number of hand positions you can use to make the exercise easier or harder, but that’s not the point. The problem is that I would wager most men can’t do more than one or two pull-ups, to say nothing for how hard it is for most women. Honestly, you may never be able to do more than one, if any. But that’s ok! It’s still a goal to work towards.

Pull Up Exercises

The Modifiers

Bad: Lat Pull-Downs

This is the rig usually found on the end of a larger cable machine: a seat with pads to hold your knees in place, with a pulley above with a bar that you pull down to your collarbone (or behind your head, if you’re feeling spicy). Like a lot of modifiers, there’s nothing inherently bad about it—it is, in fact, a great way to strengthen your lats, and your lats are a big part of a pull-up. But it does fuck-all to simulate a pull-up, and that’s what we’re after here. We can do better.

Better: Assisted Pull-Ups

There are two mechanisms for this, and they’re kind of a progression. The first (and easiest) is a machine specifically designated for assisted pull-ups: select an amount of assistance to counteract your own body weight, either step or kneel onto the assist bar/platform (depending on the design), and get to pull-uppin’. Even in machine form it’s better than a lat pull, because you’re moving your body through space. It’s also closer to how your body actually moves on a bar, i.e., no excessive leaning back like you see people do on the lat pulls. The second option is to use a pull-up assist band (or collection of bands) on a by-God pull-up bar: attach the band according to the instructions, rest your knee or foot in the loop, and do pull-ups as the elastic gives you a little boost. This is just like doing real pull-ups, because your body can swing freely just as it would with no assistance at all. Real talk, if 6-8 band-assisted pull-ups are as far as you ever get, you’re still doing better than 90% of the population. No shame in that game.

Assisted Pull Up Exercises

The Exercises

Deadlifts

If squats are the NY style pizza of exercises (iconic, foundational, and unimpeachable), then deadlifts are Chicago deep dish—similar yet a little different, but no less important. With an olympic bar at your feet, stick your butt out and squat down as far as you need to grab it with extended arms. Then, keeping your chest high and your back straight, again feel that string pulling your head up as you push through your heels back to upright. The bar should ride jusssttt in front of your shins, and finish on your thighs. It’s not entirely un squat-like, but a) you aren’t squatting as deep, and b) because the weight is in front of you, it works the back of your body more—specifically the glutes, hamstrings, and lower back. It does, however, present similar challenges to squats: big scary weights and the people who use them, and discomfort (this time, in the form of potentially skinning your shins with the bar).

Deadlift Exercises

The Modifiers

Bad: The Hex Bar

If you’ve ever worked with a trainer, you may have used this device. A closed hexagon with extensions for barbells on either side, you step into it, reach down and grab the handles, and then do your deadlifts that way, avoiding unpleasantness like the olympic platforms and skinned shins. Easy, right? Wrong. While the hex bar is great for big dudes who want to do shrugs, it’s no good for deadlifts because you’re not doing a deadlift at all—because the bar moves the weight from in front of you to in-line with your center of gravity, what you end up doing is a glorified dumbbell squat. A fine exercise, but not what we’re after here.

Better: Stiff-Legged Dumbbell Deadlifts

I’m breaking the theme here because this doesn’t exactly mimic an olympic deadlift, but remember what a deadlift is supposed to work: the hamstrings, glutes, and lower back. The only reason a regular deadlift involves the quads is because you have to squat down to pick it up without fucking up your back, but there’s no need to do that to hit the core areas. Grab a couple of reasonably heavy dumbbells (IDK, in the 20-pound range to start?), and stand with them in front of your thighs, palms facing in. Let the air out of your knees (i.e., don’t lock them out, but don’t bend them either), and bend from the waist, moving your butt out and back and keeping your back straight, feeling like your chest is high. The dumbbells should track pretty close to your legs the whole time, as they would if you were doing these with a bar. To start, you might want to do these sideways in front of a mirror—watch yourself, and as soon as you see your lower back start to round, that’s as far as you can go. You’ll be able to go deeper as your hamstrings stretch and get stronger, but for now take it slow. You should feel your quads brace as you go down, but on the way back up you should feel a deliberate pull from your glutes and hamstrings. I think if you get to a point where you can do a few sets of 10 reps with 35- to 40-lb dumbbells in your hands, you’re more than ready for the bar.

Stiff-Legged Deadlift Exercises

This girl actually goes a little too far, note how her back starts to round.

7 Pieces Of Equipment You Need To Start Using Today

So you’ve gotten yourself out of bed and made it to the gym before 9am. We’re truly impressed. You hit up your classic Stair Master and dumbbell routine everyday and you know what you’re doing. But after a few weeks, the same old equipment is getting boring and irrelevant, and you need a change. I mean, we get it. Why do you think we all got over our ombre highlights after one summer? The gym is filled with a shit ton of intimidating and confusing equipment, and we’re not telling you to bounce around to every machine like you’re at a Bandier sample sale, but it might be worth it to try out a few new ones. These seven pieces of gym equipment are underrated, super effective, and not that hard to use. Give them a try and thank us later.

1. Bosu Ball

You’ve probably seen the Bosu laying around your gym a million times and ignored it, but by incorporating it into your regular workouts, it can make your exercises 10 times harder and help practice balance and coordination. The Bosu is technically half of a ball, which means that by standing on its flat side, with the ball side on the ground, your balance is challenged and your body relies on muscles you don’t usually work. Try doing bodyweight squats and lunges while balancing on the ball. You can also hold a plank with your hands on the flat surface to help engage your core more than a regular plank would.

Bosu Ball

2. Concept 2 Rower

The rower is a sick cardio machine, and if you actually use it in the right way, you’ll ditch the treadmill and elliptical forever. The rower basically works every muscle in your body, so you’re burning twice as many calories as other cardio machines because you’re getting a full body workout with every pull. Secure your feet into the straps and pull the handle toward your bra line, pushing outward with your legs and keeping your core tight. Slowly draw the handle back in and repeat this motion again, ending with your body at a 45 degree angle each time.

3. Cable Machine

If you’ve never stepped foot near the weight section of the gym, you’ve probably never attempted to use the cables, but they’re actually super helpful for making your workouts shorter and more efficient, because you can basically do any regular exercise by using the cables and adjusting the weights. Instead of grabbing separate weights for bicep curls, shoulder presses, or core twists, you can do all of that just by using one piece of equipment. It’ll cut your workout time in half so you can spend an extra like, 10 minutes in the sauna. You’re welcome.

Cable Machine

4. Pilates Ring

A Pilates Ring looks like a basic plastic loop, and that’s because it is. But when you incorporate it into your ab workouts, you’ll notice they get 10 times harder. Try holding it in between your legs when doing crunches, or holding it overhead while you’re holding a hollow-body or boat pose. If you’re shaking within 30 seconds, you’re doing it right. You probably won’t be able to laugh tomorrow, but your abs will look amazing. 

Pilates Ring

5. Booty Band

No, the booty band is not an Instagram scam being pushed by the Kardashians. There are a million great machines and weights that will tone your butt, but the booty band is extremely underrated and really effective. Put the band around your thighs or your ankles and do your typical lower body exercises, like squats, lunges, hip bridges, or skaters. Not only will the exercises be so much harder, but you’ll also feel the burn faster and have to do less reps than usual to get great results. Your legs might feel like Jell-O when you take it off, but that just means you got a great workout.

6. SkiErg Machine

The Ski ERG is a newer piece of equipment so it’s harder to find in most gyms, but if you’re an Equinox betch or a member of other boutique fitness chains, you’ve probably seen these around. It’s called the Ski ERG because it literally looks like you’re skiing, but like, wearing less layers and not falling on your ass. The idea is to pull down on the machine’s handles over and over again, so you’re getting a cardio workout while working your triceps, shoulders, and abs.

SkiErg

7. Vertical Knee Raise Station

If you do all your classic ab workouts lying on a mat, it might be time to switch up your routine, which is where the vertical knee raise station comes in. This piece of equipment is pretty self-explanatory, but basically, the idea is to keep your arms on the handles, engage your core, and bring your knees off the ground into your torso. Once you half your knees near your belly button, slowly lower your legs back down without touching the ground and bring them up again. Let’s just say, 10 reps of these will burn more than those hundreds of sit-ups you’ve been doing on the floor.