Have you been at the gym and you see someone using a piece of equipment and you are wondering what the heck they are trying to accomplish? I do this a lot, and I am sure some gym goers probably think I am so awkward because I keep staring at them. But there is one thing I have learned from evolving in the gym and getting a better understanding of muscles and how to utilize the gym equipment, that is there is more than one way to do an exercise, or SURPRISE there are many different ways to use certain pieces of gym equipment. I was at the gym the other day working posterior muscles (glutes, hamstrings, and calves), I was working a superset of kettlebell swings with reverse abduction press on the adductor/abductor machine, when I noticed there were two gentleman chatting close to where I was working out. I’m assuming one of the men figured I was working back, since right before this superset, my superset was cable kickbacks and good mornings. I paused my music so I could hear what he was saying, he was telling the other man that I needed to lean forward on my kettlebell swings if I wanted to target the back muscles. I understand where he is coming from, but when I do kettlebell swings I sit back into a squat to hit my glutes, instead of bending more at the hips to hit the hamstrings and strengthen the lower back. This is where I have learned to not judge what others are doing in the gym!
When I first started weight training I would watch people so many times do squats with the Smith machine, their feet would be forward, they wouldn’t be sitting back as far on their squat, etc. I quickly learned that there are SO MANY different muscles you can target with squats and doing them differently. That is what is so amazing about weight training! I was only using the Smith machine to get lower on my squats to his those posterior muscles groups, little did I know that I adjusted my form a bit, to have my feet be forward just a bit, that it would actually target my glutes even more. Or if I made my stance closer than shoulder width apart, and kept my feet right under my shoulders, that I would be activating my quads.
I have also found that people look at you funny when you use a machine for something not even remotely close to what it is typically used for. Take the infamous assisted dip/pull up machine for example. I used to judge those girls that would get on that, and use their feet to do pushdowns. Thinking to myself you can do that movement without drawing so much attention to yourself, again, I was quickly corrected when the gym was quiet, I tried that movement. It is absolutely amazing for isolating muscles!
It’s hard to swallow pride, or get out of your comfort zone in the gym. I’ve been that girl. But always remember that there are many different ways to do something. Be open minded. Be a little bit adventurous (within reason). Be understanding. Enjoy those workouts, and don’t be afraid to switch it up!