Beat the New Year’s Gym Crowds: Use the Forgotten Machines

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If you’ve hit the gym in the past seven days, chances are you’ve noticed more than a few new faces. This, right now, is a post-New Year’s world we’re living in, people, and the crowds aren’t due to subside for another month. At least.

The most popular machines? Treadmills, by a long shot. “Everyone gets on the treadmill because everyone knows how to walk,” says Vivian Camphor, a veteran trainer at Philadelphia Sports Clubs in Center City. “It’s easy.” The ellipticals get clogged for the same reason: They’re easy to use and therefore make for a no-brainer workout.


Instead of abandoning your workouts, planting yourself on the couch, and waiting for the resolution tide to recede, try this: Head to the parts of the gym that typically get ignored. You know, the machines that gather dust in the corner while the Resolutioners stand in line for the treadmills. Here, the forgotten machines to leverage during the New Year's rush—plus tips for how to use them and workouts (H.I.I.T., anyone?) for guidance.

Rowing Machine
Why to use it: This machine gives you a full body workout—it works legs, arms, upper back and core—and a cardio burn to boot.
How to use it: For beginner workout, warm up for five minutes, then do 30 seconds of work (all-out rowing, as fast as you can), followed by one minute of active recovery (rowing at a moderate pace). Repeat this cycle for eight to 10 intervals. (Interval = one rest/recovery cycle)

StairMaster
Why to use it: You'll shred your quads, hamstrings, glutes, hip flexors and calves with a workout that studies show burns more calories than slogging on the treadmill.
How to use it: Set the machine to at least a level 10 (1 mph); this is your recovery pace. Your work pace should be two levels faster than your recovery. Then, do a "pyramid style" workout:

30 seconds work : 60 seconds recovery
45 seconds work : 60 seconds recovery
60 seconds work : 60 seconds recovery
60 seconds work : 45 seconds recovery
60 seconds work : 30 seconds recovery
Repeat

Standing Mountain Climber (a.k.a. VersaClimber)
Why to use it: Since the machine is often empty, you can also use it to add short bursts of cardio to your circuit training. It's a killer workout that will get your heart rate up in no time.
How to use it: Do one minute work (relatively fast—your heart should be pounding) followed by a 90-second active recovery. Repeat cycle eight times

Assisted Pull-up Machine
Why to use it: Never fully mastered a pull-up? This is your ticket to finally conquering it. The machine takes some of the weight off your arms, making the pull-up easier to pull off. The more weight you put on the machine, the easier your pull up will be. When you only have 10 or 20 pounds on the machine, you're ready for an unassisted pull-up.
How to use it: Aim for three sets of 10 to 12 reps each, with short breaks in between.

Upper Body Ergometer
Why to use it: Like the mountain climber, this is best used as an interval as part of your circuit training because it's hard cardio. It tones shoulders, biceps and chest. Despite how, er, strange this machine looks, it's very easy to use: While sitting in a seat, crank your arms like legs on bike pedals.
How to use it: Do 1:1 intervals ( 1 minute work, 1 minute recovery for 10 cycles).

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