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Review of Five Body Weight Machines and Fitness Equipment

Updated on November 20, 2014

You have all seen these machines or pieces of equipment at your health club. Have you used them? Do you know how to use them? Stay tune for a quick introduction to simply whet your appetite for expanding your repertoire of exercises in the gym.

What is common and unique to these pieces of fitness equipment is none of the five depend upon scalable weights. Most machines in the health club offer the user the option of different levels of weight usually in 10 lb increments.

Remember we want to increase our muscle tone because it has the power to change our metabolism.

These pieces of equipment depend mainly upon your own weight. Here is a quick overview:

  • Captains Chair
  • Ab Solo Machine
  • Assisted Chin Up - Assisted Chair Dip
  • Back Extension
  • Incline Sit Up Bench
  • Body Bar

OK there are six, I added the Body Bar because the assist chair dip does offer scalable weights and I promised all these items would share one common factor - no scalable weights. So I decided to give you one extra piece of equipment - my personal favorite - the Body Bar. It is simple, relatively inexpensive and can pack allot of variety into a work out including low impact leg lifts.

Low Impact Exercises

Often swimming is touted as the "low impact" exercise, yet what you will find with these five pieces of equipment is more options in your toolbox for target toning.

The exercise that use your own body weight with these machines is often loved by my fitness clients who either desire to or must avoid impact exercises.

If you haven't tried these exercises or if you haven't tried them in some time, do your body a favor and try a set of three - eight repetitions each. See what you think and report back to us. We can all learn from sharing.

Calisthenics - Definition

Calisthenics | Define Calisthenics at

noun 1. ( used with a plural verb ) gymnastic exercises designed to develop physical health and vigor, usually performed with little or no special apparatus.

These pieces of equipment showcased in this hub simply lend support for body weight exercises. Now this is not to be confused with calisthenics which is an exercise designed without any apparatus.

The equipment showcased here is assisting the user often without any scalable weight. These pieces are simply stationary pieces of equipment typically made of steel with some padded comfort in strategic locations designed to facilitate body weight exercise movements.

Captain's Chair

The captains chair is one of the oldest pieces of body weight equipment and one of the most loved and highly utilized.

The captains chair offers several different variations. In all cases, your arms are bend and you are stabilizing yourself with your core.

What I liked to advise my clients is to keep their knees lower than their belly button in order to make sure the abdominal were engaged rather than the back muscles.

Ab Solo Machine
Ab Solo Machine

Ab Solo Machine

The Ab Solo piece of fitness equipment is relatively new in the health clubs. Many local clubs are now carrying this piece because it brings together functional fitness with fun. Simply sitting and throwing the ball is to many child's play but to your muscles for toning and stability this motion is important.

With so many of us sitting for a living, this piece of equipment returns our fitness routine to what it should be - functional movements that are needed for an active lifestyle.

Back Extension

This one at first mystified me when I was first introduced to the health club in my late 20's - yes, I was a late bloomer - perhaps still!

This one looks complicated until you see the body positioning.

The key to this exercise as with all exercises is to never hyper extend your back. Look closely at this diagram and you see the movement never extend the body beyond the hips.

This like many exercise movements is a small movement. It should be executed carefully and thoughtfully. If you feel any discomfort in your back, stop immediately, this exercise may be too advanced for your level of fitness. See a personal trainer or a medical professional for more guidance.

Incline Sit Up Bench

This bench is at every gym and is an old mainstay. It adds resistance to your sit ups by simply changing the incline.

Do position the bench low at first and work your way up into a higher incline.

Low Impact Exercise

Low impact leg lifts for target toning the legs
Low impact leg lifts for target toning the legs | Source

Low Impact Leg Lifts with the Body Bar

Include this exercise in your fitness routine and you will be investing wisely both in your body and in your time.

Easy Exercise

Body Bar

The body bar is often shown for upper body exercises and yet one of the very best exercise is for the legs. The low impact exercise the body bar offers is invaluable. If your health club does not have these, do ask about adding them. They are exceptional.

Woman we struggle with our leg muscles. We often carry too much weight in our thighs and our legs quickly loose muscle tone as we age. Yet, the impact exercises of group fitness may not appeal to you and swimming often is not an option.

This is where the Body Bar excels. As a personal trainer, this exercise is an essential. Remember target toning can change a person's metabolism? This low impact exercise can deliver big results.

Include this exercise in your fitness routine and you will be investing wisely both in your body and in your time.

Low Impact Leg Exercises Can Protect Our Knees

Changing our metabolism, target toning are great objectives that many of us pursue. What is often overlooked is the ability of stronger muscles to protect the knees.

Colorful Exercise Poster Promoting Burning 100 Calories

colorful purple and black poster that says "burns 100 calories: 40 jumping jacks, 30 crunches, 20 squats, 10 push-ups"
colorful purple and black poster that says "burns 100 calories: 40 jumping jacks, 30 crunches, 20 squats, 10 push-ups" | Source

Assisted Chin Dip - Assisted Chair Dip

I like to call this machine the reverse machine. Why? Because the less weight you scale on this machine, the more resistance you will have. For you see, the real name of this machine is the "assisted chin dip" or the "assisted chair dip", it is essentially training wheels to get you started.

This machine is fabulous for shoulder stretches because you determine the amount of weight.

OK, you caught me - this machine does have scalable weights. But the scalable weights are in the assisting not in the increasing.

This machine is often overlooked and yet is one of the most valuable machines in the health club. If your health club offers this machine and you are not using it - shame on you! This is a little gem that is often not understood or when somewhat understood, it is forgotten.

Woman this machine is a must because it can effectively target the often difficult to train triceps.Chair dips with 100% of your weight is not a possibility for most of our populace.

This machine I would like to see added to a fitness test - chin up for men and chair dips for women. Upper body strength is essential to everyday functions.This machine highlights the need to train these muscles.

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Fitness Industry Innovation Needed

These machines are often curious items for new fitness clients. As I have written before out on my popular hubs about promoting exercise posters, posters are visual reminders and motivators and trainers. We can do more than just train and educate, if presented in a colorful presentation, we can also motivate the user to try adding new movements to their exercise routine. Best case scenario is for the client to see the poster and ask questions about that specific exercise and how it might be helpful to their needs.

Sadly I am unaware of an exercise poster that showcases the proper body position for these pieces of equipment.

What the fitness industry needs is a poster showcasing ALL of these pieces of equipment and the body positions.

We all learn in different manners, we all are motivated by different factors. The walls of the health club should promote new exercise and provide illustrated examples of optional exercise movements to discuss with your personal trainer.

© 2013 Kelly A Burnett


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    • Easy Exercise profile imageAUTHOR

      Kelly A Burnett 

      5 years ago from United States

      Hi the writingowl,

      I love most any home exercise products - they offer so much convenience for us. The cross trainer offers a wonderful exercise program for cardio and for toning the legs. We can change our metabolism if we change the amount of muscle in our body and our legs contain our longest and largest muscles so exercising the legs is pivotal to weight loss and cardio health.

      Keep up the program - remember the key is consistency.

      Thank you so much for sharing - I greatly appreciate it.

    • thewritingowl profile image

      Mary Kelly Godley 

      5 years ago from Ireland

      Interesting, I started using a Cross Trainer in January. What do you think of this, is it good?


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