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Top 3 Fitness Tools

Updated on April 13, 2015

The fitness room for many can be a scary place. If you don't understand the equipment and have not been trained, you are well advised to stay away until you are properly trained by a certified fitness professional. Our human body is remarkable but exercise is complicated and without proper form you can harm your body. Yet, the fitness room offers an abundance of equipment that can make us stronger, leaner and more flexible. Let's explore some of the top equipment that personal trainers use and explain/show the proper use. Some of pieces reviewed are so simple, this will surprise you. Some of the fitness equipment is inexpensive and some is cost prohibited for many home gyms and even some health clubs yet do the benefits outweigh the cost? Only you the user can decide. Explore these underused and under appreciated pieces of fitness equipment and share your thoughts of what are your favorite pieces of fitness equipment.

Here are three of my personal favorites:

  • The Hyperextension
  • Weight Assisted Pull Up/Dip Station
  • The Roman Chair

Three Great Body Weight Fitness Tools

Fitness is All About Proper Form

colorful black white and purple poster with quote: Proper Form in Fitness is Everything
colorful black white and purple poster with quote: Proper Form in Fitness is Everything

"Proper Form in Fitness is Everything"

Cannot Review the Machine Unless We Know How to Properly Operate It

First and foremost, we must fully understand the purpose of the machine and examine the proper way to use the machine. Because we all learn best from our mistakes, I always prefer to highlight what the most common mistakes are and show both the do alongside with the don't. If I miss a common mistake - please leave a comment below. It is important to have a second set of expert eyes.

How to Use the Life Fitness Assisted Dip/Chin Up Machine

Assisted Chair Dip Machine

Man using the assisted chair dip exercise machine
Man using the assisted chair dip exercise machine

Assisted Chin Up Machine / Chair Dip Machine

The key to this machine is "counterbalance". I don't care for that big word, I prefer to advise my clients that this machine is the reverse machine - the less weight means more help - thus the name "assisted". For you see, our human body sometimes cannot handle the full weight of our body.

This is especially true for beginners and for the elderly and my favorite fitness group that includes me the aging baby boomers.

Yet, once my clients understand this machine, often it becomes their favorite. What is fantastic about this machine is the upper body stretching that it provides.

Women over 40 have a tendency to have an ailment called frozen shoulder. It is very painful. I know I have had both shoulders with this ailment and it was one of the worst times in my life.

This machine is one of the few machines in the world I believe should be in every hotel fitness room in the world. Yes, it is expensive but the muscle groups it engages are muscles that are hard for us to effectively reach. From young to old, this machine is a five star winner and is always included in premier health clubs.

If we could do exercises to prevent this ailment and remain healthy, we can avoid pain and disruption of our daily lives.

The key to this machine like all exercise is form is critical. Our typical human reaction is to arch our back.

IMPORTANT REMINDER: Do not arch your back

Common Mistakes with the Assisted Chip Up Machine/Chair Dip Machine

  • Arching Your Back
  • Too much range of motion - don't come up too high
  • Dropping suddenly - your movements should be controlled and steady and slow

From Frail to Fit - This Machines Serves Us All!

The "reverse machine" machine offers something for everyone - from old to young and most importantly from frail to fit.

You can simply counterbalance with the amount of your body weight to get started and slowly back off as your strength improves.

Home Gym Applicable?

The machine I herald for the young and old alike, the one I call the "reverse machine" offers a hefty price tag that will prevent many home gyms from having this piece of equipment. Yet hotels and fitness centers need to take note, this is a machine that can offer both essential stretching and strength training for the upper body. What I love about the assisted chip up / chair dip machine is allows all us, from frail to fit to target tone the difficult muscle groups in the upper body. For you see, you customize the weight upon your specific need. If you need more help, you add more weight - remember, it is the "reverse machine" to me and adding help is adding weight. The counterbalance is a great invention and a must for any well equipped gym.

Roman Chair


Roman Chair

On the opposite spectrum from the Assisted Chip Up/Chair Dip Machine or what I call lovingly the "reverse machine" is the roman chair.

This piece of equipment has no moving parts, no weights and completely depends on your body weight.

One of the keys in using this machine is not to engage your back muscles. The most common mistake made by clients is raising the legs too high. This has a tendency to engage the back muscles more than the core muscles.

To use this machine properly all you need to remember is to key your knees lower than your waist and to move very slowly.

IMPORTANT REMINDER: Do not arch your back

Common Mistakes with the Assisted Chip Up Machine/Chair Dip Machine

  • Arching Your Back
  • Keep knees lower than your waist - make sure you feel your core engage
  • If you feel your back engage - adjust your form, if you still feel your back muscles, this piece of equipment may be too advance for your muscle groups. Seek out alternative exercises for your core muscles.
  • Too quick of movements - move slowly with controlled and steady movement

Home Gym Applicable?

Absolutely. The price tag of the roman chair is relatively achievable by the homeowner. The item that is important, is the benefits for the core strength greatly outweigh the cost. The roman chair would be one of my top picks.

Ab Bench - Hyper Back Extension

Advanced Ab Bench - From Abs to Obliques

Targeting the Obliques on the Hyperextension

hyperextension targeting oblique
hyperextension targeting oblique | Source

Ab Bench - Hyper Back Extension

The ab bench is so simple that it is complicated! Yes, I really did say that! Stay with me on this one. Once you understand its use and see it being used, it makes perfect sense but encountering it initially in the gym can be disconcerting. Like the roman chair, the ab bench is designed to use your own body for toning our mid section.

I don't care for the name "hyper back extension" because form is paramount to fitness, to actively encourage hyper extension is something only the well trained the elite should be considering. As we age, all forms of hyper extension are dubious to our health. Trust me, I am half a century old, when in doubt, we must yield to the number one rule - safety first.

What Personal Trainers Love About the Ab Bench

Probably much like many other personal trainers and fitness professionals, the ab bench has the ability to not only target tone the core but also isolate the hard to reach obliques. The obliques are the muscles that are on the side our waist - some people have or many people today struggle with the "love handles".

Home Gym Applicable

Absolutely - look at the price tag and all the benefits. This machine is great for your core and fantastic for the hard to reach obliques.

Hamstring Muscles and Glute Muscles

Colorful human anatomy poster showcasing Hamstring Muscles and Glute Muscles
Colorful human anatomy poster showcasing Hamstring Muscles and Glute Muscles

Hamstring Exercise Options

Click thumbnail to view full-size
hamstring exercise with the balance ballhamstring exercise with a personal trainerblack and white diagram of how to perform hamstring exercise with personal trainer
hamstring exercise with the balance ball
hamstring exercise with the balance ball
hamstring exercise with a personal trainer
hamstring exercise with a personal trainer
black and white diagram of how to perform hamstring exercise with personal trainer
black and white diagram of how to perform hamstring exercise with personal trainer | Source

Glute Machine Instructions - AKA Hamstring Machine

Hamstring Machine - What Lifefitness Calls the Glute Machine

Hamstring Machine - What Lifefitness Calls the Glute Machine
Hamstring Machine - What Lifefitness Calls the Glute Machine | Source


This fourth machine - I know I promised three machines but this one is very specialized and often not seen except in elite health clubs.

In short, it is a sad fact that this machine is hard to find.

If your club has one, congratulations is owed to your club manager/owner.

This machine is outstanding for the aging female. Men, I know you may be completely confused on this machine. For you see, women have a natural tendency as we age to have weak hamstrings. Men, in general, their physic is geared toward strong leg muscles and rarely do men have lack of strength in their hamstring muscles.

Having stated that men do have a strong tendency to have tight hamstrings. This is particular true for men over 50 who have jobs that mandate they sit behind a desk or study over a computer. Yet strength training and stretching are different. I am not saying strength will not help but if your muscles are tight - you need to stretch, if your muscles are weak, you need resistance training. Of course, the best of both world is always combining resistance training with stretching.

Name Is Deceiving - "Glute Machine"

This machine, I feel is marketed completely wrong. Lifefitness I fear will be mad at me but this machine is wonderful and yet it does so much more than the "glutes". Yes, this machine will work your glutes but if you have ever tried it, I dare you to name the glute as the primary muscle that is worked. I feel it first in my hamstrings and second in my glutes.

I also feel it in my sartorius muscle and combining the hamstring with the sartorius muscle means this machine has the ability to expedite my weight loss program by changing my muscle structure and thus increasing my metabolism.

What is in a name? Too often, people ignore this machine because it is labelled "glute". A better name I feel would be the hamstring machine.

Superior Fitness Machine - Lifefitness Glute Machine

If you compare the other pieces of equipment in the marketplace, you will quickly see the Lifefitness Glut machine is substantially superior.

Share Your Opinion

Is Glute Machine The Best Possible Name for This Fitness Tool?

See results

Share Your Experience

Have you tried the Lifefitness Glute Machine That I Call the Hamstring Machine?

See results

Share Your Opinion

Whether you are a certified personal trainer or a gym junkie or the aging babyboomer who needs more fitness in their life, your opinion counts. What are your thoughts? Are these machines mis-understood and underutilized? Can you readily see the value that these four machines can offer to your health club or home fitness room? If you had to choose, what would your top three choices be?

© 2013 Kelly A Burnett


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    • Easy Exercise profile imageAUTHOR

      Kelly A Burnett 

      4 years ago from United States


      I strive to educate and train. The hard part is motivating others and myself. Reading is not doing but if we can understand the benefits, it is easier to put forth the effort.

      Thank you for stopping by.

    • joedolphin88 profile image


      4 years ago from north miami FL

      Great exercise list, you seem to be very knowledgeable. These three tips are very important to maintain your body.

    • Easy Exercise profile imageAUTHOR

      Kelly A Burnett 

      4 years ago from United States


      The Roman Chair is fascinating and when it is explained, my swim fitness clients loved it. I took on the challenge of cross promoting the workout room with my swim fitness clients and I was thrilled. The ones who had back pain understood the value of the gravity based exercises and once they understood the Roman Chair, I found them adding this to their fitness routine!

      It is a great tool but often so underutilized.

      Thank you so much for sharing - this information is very helpful and I greatly appreciate your perspective.

    • ChristyWrites profile image

      Christy Birmingham 

      4 years ago from British Columbia, Canada

      I have never used the Rowan Chair but it does sound like a good workout. Thanks for another quality hub here.

    • Easy Exercise profile imageAUTHOR

      Kelly A Burnett 

      4 years ago from United States


      Fascinating information. It is so great to hear real results. Yes, I had no idea what these pieces were called. We visit them at the gym and sadly too many of us walk right past them.I want to try more of these exercises and seeing the photos really helps to motivate me. Even as personal trainers, we all get in our routine and branching out into new areas is so critical for our development and our energy level with our clients. Thank you for sharing your personal experience and expertise.

    • DustinJ profile image

      Dustin Jones 

      4 years ago from San Jose, California

      I love doing back hyper extensions on the hyper bench. Its basically the only way to get the Erector Spinae group bulkier, my back looks like I have two boa constrictors running down my spine thanks to that beautiful piece of machinery.

      Thanks for the hub, I had no idea the pieces were called :)


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