What’s that called?
If you have ever found yourself:
Looking at a piece of gym equipment wondering what it’s called or…
Wanting to talk to someone about what you used today at the gym, but are at a loss when it comes to workout equipment names…
Then you are in the right spot!
This gym equipment guide for beginners will give you all the gym based vocab you need to sound like you know your way around a gym and talk about your workout without sounding like a dink.
I am going to do you right by including the name and picture side by side, flashcard style, so you can quickly identify each piece and be able to confidently identify all the gym equipment names.
I will also include a brief description, what muscles the equipment targets and other stuff you should know. Ya’ know?
I know you don’t have all day, so let’s get to it.
- Weight Room Strength Training and Power Lifting Equipment
- Flat Bench Press
- Incline Bench Press
- Preacher Curl or Bicep Curl Bench
- Squat Rack or Squat Stand
- Power Rack (Cage)
- Smith Machine
- Olympic Barbell
- Olympic Weight Plates
- Bumper Plates
- Collars, Clips & Claps
- Fixed Weight Bars
- EZ Curl Bars
- Hex Bar or Trap Bar
- Other Specialty Bars – Safety Squat Bar, Cambered Bars, Apollon’s Axle, Strongman Logs
- Dumbbells, Hex Dumbbells or Free Weights
- Chest and Arm Machines
- Back, Core & Leg Machines and Equipment
- Cardio Machines
Weight Room Strength Training and Power Lifting Equipment
Flat Bench Press
- Description: Most people are familiar with the bench press, and it is one of the first exercises most weightlifters start with. The Flat bench press lays flat and has a barbell stand for the barbell.
- Muscles used/goal: As the name implies, this equipment is used for the classic bench press. The bench press works the upper body, focusing on the pecs, shoulders and less on the triceps and back.
- Recommended: Valor Fitness Flat Bench Press
Click here to see our Best Bench Press Recommendations & Reviews 2020
YouTube How To: Barbell Bench Press
A Few Pointers: Please don’t be deceived, just because the bench press is basic and you are probably already familiar with it, it CAN be done wrong and cause damage or lack results.
Watch the how-to video to master this essential exercise.
A bench press can also be done with a flat bench and a rig or power rack instead of a bench press machine.
Many Gyms use the cage/flat bench setup instead of the bench press equipment shown above and I personally prefer the rig & flat bench setup because they are safer, allow you to lift more and are more versatile.
See below for more info on racks and rigs.
Incline Bench Press
- Description: Similar to the flat bench press above, just done with an incline bench instead of a flat bench. The incline bench press machine has a barbell stand as well.
- Muscles used/goal: Same as the flat bench press, except the incline causes the focus to shift to the upper pec whereas the flat bench focuses on the entire pec. Both exercises are beneficial for your routine.
- Recommended: Body Solid Incline Bench Press Machine
Click here to see our Best Bench Press Recommendations & Reviews 2020
YouTube How To: Incline Barbell Bench Press
Preacher Curl or Bicep Curl Bench
- Description: The preacher curl pad is used to do both dumbbell and barbell curls. It can be used with all manner of barbells and is often used with an EZ curl bar.
- Muscles used/goal: Preacher curls work the biceps.
- Recommended: Reflex Preacher Curl with Adjustable Arm
Click here to see our Best Preacher Curl Bench Recommendations & Reviews 2020
YouTube How To: Preacher Curls – How to Perform It Correctly
A Few Pointers: What’s the difference between bicep curls and preacher curls? The Preacher curl pad holds your arms in place and prevents you from swinging the bar or dumbbell up.
This prevents you from using the swinging momentum to “cheat” on the curl, and forces you to lift the weight using just the bicep muscle.
Squat Rack or Squat Stand
- Description: A squat rack or squat stand has two upright bars, connected by an overhead bar. A squat rack should have wide sturdy, stable feet to prevent tipping over.
- Muscles used/goal: For barbell squats, works quads and glutes.
- Recommended: Rogue Monster Lite Squat Stand SML-2C
Click here to see our Best Squat Rack Recommendations & Reviews 2020
YouTube How To: How to set up approach the squat rack
A Few Pointers: Avoid squat racks that do not have an overhead bar. They are unstable. The Monster lite squat stand above is ideal because you can add a pair of Safety Spotter Arms to catch a heavy barbell in the event you fail the lift.
In my opinion, if you use a squat rack, these safety arms are a must.
Also note, a power rack, which has 4 upright bars connected together, is preferred over a squat rack because it is more stable and sturdy and they (should) always have a safety bar to catch a failed lift.
Power Rack (Cage)
- Description: A power rack or cage has 4 upright bars, connected by 4 horizontal bars at the top.
- Muscles used/goal: Racks are used for so many exercises it could potentially be used for the entire body. You can use a power rack to perform bench press, squats, pull ups, and so much more.
- Recommended: Rogue R-4 Power Rack
Click here to see our Best Power Rack Recommendations & Reviews 2020
YouTube How To: Bench Press in Power Rack
A Few Pointers: A power rack is the centerpiece of any Free weights gym, and is an investment. Don’t go cheap on this.
- Description: A weight training machine with a barbell set between two rails. The rails guide the movement of the barbell up and down, and the two safety stops prevent injury.
- Muscles used/goal: Smith machines are used for squats, bench presses and similar exercises.
- Recommended: Valor Fitness BE-11 Smith Machine
Click here to see our Best Smith Machine Recommendations & Reviews 2020
YouTube How To: Smith Machine
A Few Pointers: A smith machine is good for beginners because it is safe, stable and allows you to lift heavy without a spotter.
However, I prefer a bench press using a power cage and barbell or dumbbells because the smith machine limits movement and works less of the muscle than free weights or the barbell.
- Description: A Men’s Olympic barbell is 7.2 feet long, weighs about 44 lbs and is about 2 inches in diameter at the end where the weight plates go, and about 1.1 inches in diameter in the center. This is different from a standard size barbell which is smaller, much lighter and only 1 inch in diameter where the weight plates go.
- Muscles used/goal: Barbells are used for the bench press, deadlifts, clean and jerk, squats, overhead press and about a million more exercises.
- Recommended: Rogue Ohio Bar
Click here to see our Best Olympic Barbell Recommendations & Reviews 2020
YouTube: Rogue Weightlifting Bars Explained
A Few Pointers: A women’s Olympic barbell is shorter and lighter than the men’s bar. Women’s Olympic bars are 6.6 feet long and weigh about 33 lbs with a .98 inch center diameter. Also, a women’s bar has no center knurling.
Note: Not all gyms have women’s bars, and it is perfectly acceptable for females to use the men’s Olympic bar at the gym.
Olympic Weight Plates
- Description: Olympic weight plates are different than standard plates because they have a 2-inch diameter hole whereas standard plates have a 1-inch hole. Olympic plates also have a bit of a lip to assist picking them up.
- Recommended: Rogue Olympic Plates
Click here to see our Best Olympic Weight Plate Recommendations & Reviews 2020
- Description: Bumper plates fit Olympic barbells. The difference between bumper plates and Olympic plates is that ALL bumper plates have the same diameter and are made of dense rubber, whereas Olympic plates have a diameter based on the weight, eg. Less weight means a smaller diameter plate and are usually made from iron.
- Recommended: Rogue Bumper Plates by Hi-Temp
Click here to see our Best Bumper Plate Recommendations & Reviews 2020
YouTube: Bill Talks Bumper Plates
A Few Pointers: Why do bumper plates all have the same diameter? Because the uniform diameter, along with the fact that bumper plates are made of rubber, means it is OK to drop the plates on the ground without damaging the plates, barbell or the ground.
Dropping the barbell happens sometimes in CrossFit, or even weightlifting if the lifter is going heavy or lifting to failure.
Collars, Clips & Claps
YouTube: Which Collars Should You Use On the Bar?
A Few Pointers: Collars and clamps are round, and have a small clamp that locks down on the barbell.
Clips have a spring that you compress to open, and release to close. Clip springs are less expensive than collars but can potentially slide a bit on the bar, especially if you drop them.
Clips should be checked and adjusted on each lift.
Fixed Weight Bars
- Description: A fixed weight bar is a bar that has the weight permanently attached to the end of the bar.
- Muscles used/goal: Fixed barbells are most often used for bicep curls.
- Recommended: York Barbell Fixed Barbell
A Few Pointers: The best feature of a fixed barbell is they are always ready to go, no need to adjust or mess with weight plates. Fixed barbells are usually straight bars or “Z” form EZ curl style bars.
See EZ curl bars below.
EZ Curl Bars
- Description: EZ curl bars are designed for bicep or preacher curls. The bar has a bit of a “Z” to it, hence the name EZ curl.
- Muscles used/goal: Biceps.
- Recommended: Titan Fitness EZ Curl Bar
YouTube How To: Inside-Grip Bicep Curl with E-Z Bar Curl
A Few Pointers: The Z shape allows you to hold the bar using different grips, which works the bicep slightly different, depending on how you hold the bar, allowing you to build well-rounded guns.
Hex Bar or Trap Bar
- Description: A Hex bar is a barbell with a large Hex shape you stand inside.
- Muscles used/goal: Hex or Trap bars can be used for squats, deadlifts, farmers carry or walk, among others. The trap or hex bar engages the traps more than a traditional bar.
- Recommended: Rogue TB-2 Trap Bar
YouTube How To: Do Trap Bar Deadlifts
A Few Pointers: There are benefits and disadvantages to the hex/trap bar. On the plus side, they do help activate traps more. They also prevent you from slamming your knees into the bar, and most people can lift more weight using a hex bar.
On the downside, they limit the range of motion and you start your lift from a higher position, which limits effectiveness.
Other Specialty Bars – Safety Squat Bar, Cambered Bars, Apollon’s Axle, Strongman Logs
There are potentially many barbells you will find at the gym, and while I cannot detail each and everyone, here are some popular barbell variations:
- Rogue Safety Squat Bar – The safety squat bar allows you to squat with your spine more upright, improves your form and allows better range of motion while squatting.
- Titan Rackable Camber Bar – A cambered bar places the weight toward your lower body-hips, glutes, and hamstrings and lower back. It also readily swings, forcing you to engage your core more to stabilize.
- Rogue Stubby Axle – The Axle bar is designed to increase your grip strength. The axle bar has no knurl, is nearly two inches thick, and is fat and hard to hang on to.
- Titan Strongman Log Bar – Log bars are not common but they are gaining popularity and if you belong to a specialty gym or box, you may see one. The benefit is they have a neutral hand grip which is more comfortable and forgiving to your wrist joints, plus they are unstable, forcing you to engage the core and stabilizing muscles. Most people lift less with a log bar than they can with a standard bar because it’s more awkward to lift. They also look cool AF and that makes them more fun to lift.
Dumbbells, Hex Dumbbells or Free Weights
- Description: Most folks know what dumbbells are. Dumbbells are handheld weights you can lift in pairs or individually. Hex weights are dumbbells with 6 flat sides. Hex dumbbells don’t roll, plus they can be used as stands for push-ups, mountain climbers and other exercises.
- Recommended: XMark’s Premium Hex Dumbbell Set
Click here to see our Best Hex Dumbbell Sets Recommendations & Reviews 2020
YouTube: 8 Best Dumbbell Exercises Ever
A Few Pointers: It is good to use dumbbells and not rely solely on the barbell. Dumbbells force you to lift the same amount of weight with each arm and cause you to use more stabilizer and core muscles than barbells.
Chest and Arm Machines
In addition to knowing all the gym equipment names, you should also know there are two types of weight machines.
Those that use a weight stack, and those where you load weight plates onto the machine yourself.
The advantage of the stacks is their easier to use and you don’t have to mess around with loading them.
The advantage of plate-loaded machines that you load yourself is sometimes you can load more weight than the stack machines, and usually, the plate loaded machines have a better ROM (Range of Motion) allowing you to work more of the muscle.
Incline Chest Press Machine
- Description: The incline chest press is done on a slightly inclined bench, hence the name. It is a press machine that works the chest.
- Muscles used/goal: Chest, shoulders, and triceps.
- Recommended: Reflex Incline Press
Click here to see our Best Incline Bench Press Machine Recommendations 2020
YouTube How To: Incline Chest Press
A Few Pointers: The incline of the incline chest press engages the shoulders more than an upright position would.
Look for a machine with an adjustable back to change the angle and vary the shoulder muscle engagement.
Cable Crossover, Pulley Machine or Cable Tower
- Description: A cable crossover machine is a machine with one handle for each hand, attached to a pulley system. You use the cable crossover machine while standing.
- Muscles used/goal: Chest and chest adduction.
- Recommended: Titan Fitness Cable Crossover Machine
Click here to see our Best Cable Crossover Pulley Machine Recommendations 2020
YouTube How To: Properly Do Cable Crossovers
A Few Pointers: The cross movement engages the chest muscle in a different way than a simple press. As you pull your arms in from an open position you really work the upper and side of the pecs.
Lat Extension, Lat Pull Down Machine
- Description: The lat extension is a straight bar, attached to a pulley, positioned overhead with a bench below where you sit.
- Muscles used/goal: Widening the back-works traps, rhomboids, rear delts and triceps.
- Recommended: Vanswe LAT Pulldown Machine
YouTube How To: Lat Pulldown
A Few Pointers: Always pull the weight in front of you, not behind your neck. Focus on NOT using your biceps to pull the weight so your back gets the workout instead.
Shoulder Press Machine
- Description: This is a press done with an upright bench, in a seated position. You lift the press, exercising the shoulders.
- Muscles used/goal: Shoulders, delts, anterior delts.
- Recommended: Body-Line Shoulder Press
YouTube: Workout 101- Machine Shoulder Press
A Few Pointers: Use all different handle position options for the most well-rounded shoulder workout, hand position affects how the muscle is used.
Chest Fly, Pec Fly or Pec Deck Machine
- Description: This machine is used while sitting at the upright bench. You grab the handles and move your arms inward, elbows extended, towards your midline.
- Muscles used/goal: Pecs.
- Recommended: Body Solid Pec Fly
YouTube How To: Pec Deck Flys
A Few Pointers: Chest flys must be done with relaxed traps in order to fully engage the pecs. Also, you will need to adjust the seat to a height where your arms are neither too high nor too low.
Your arms should move out in front of you naturally.
Cable Row Machine or Seated Row Machine
YouTube How To: Properly Perform the Seated Row
A Few Pointers: It’s easy to mess this exercise up and not get much benefit, including not working all the intended muscles. Watch the how-to video before getting started.
Triceps Extension Bar
- Description: The triceps bar is used with a pulley machine, in a standing position.
- Muscles used/goal: This attachment works with a cable machine to work triceps.
- Recommended: Triceps extension Bar
YouTube: V Bar Tricep Extension
Dip Station or Power Tower
- Description: A tower with two arms used to perform dips.
- Muscles used/goal: Main focus on the pecs, less focus on the anterior delts, triceps and lats.
- Recommended: HYD-PARTS Power Tower Dip Station
Click here to see our Best Power Tower and Dip Station Recommendations 2020
YouTube How To: Do Dips – Chest & Triceps Exercise
A Few Pointers: Dips use your bodyweight as resistance. If you need more challenge, weighted dip belts are an option.
Back, Core & Leg Machines and Equipment
Roman Chair, Back Extension or Hyperextension Bench
- Description: An angled bench with a foot rest or roller pads that hold your legs in.
- Muscles used/goal: Lower back and glutes.
- Recommended: Body-Solid Back Hyper Extension Machine
Click here to see our Best Roman Chair Recommendations & Reviews 2020
YouTube: 9 Roman Chair Exercises and the Muscles They Target
A Few Pointers: Roman chairs are often considered to work the lower back, which they do.
But they are also great for building a nice round butt and help exercise stabilizing muscles in the back as well.
The Roman chair deserves more love!
GHD Glute Hamstring Developer
- Description: The GHD machine is different from a roman chair in that you lie in a horizontal position instead of an angle.
- Muscles used/goal: Glutes and Hamstrings, as the name implies. Plus the posterior chain in general. GHD machine is also great for core and abs too!
- Recommended: Rogue GH-1 GHD Glute Hamstring Developer
Click here to see our Best GHD Machines Recommendations & Reviews 2020
YouTube How To: Using the Glute Ham Developer (GHD)
A Few Pointers: Show some love to the GHD because it offers more than you might think!
If a sculpted lower back, round booty, and six pack abs are what you are after, make this machine a regular in your routine.
Leg Press or Hack Squat Machine
- Description: A weight machine where you push weight up using your legs.
- Muscles used/goal: Similar to a squat you use your Quads, calves, Glues and hamstrings.
- Recommended: FORCE USA Monster Ultimate Leg Press/Hack Squat Combo
Click here to see our Best Leg Press Recommendations & Reviews 2020
YouTube How To: Seated Leg Press
A Few Pointers: Push through with your heels to avoid knee pain and locking your knees.
Leg Extension Machine & Leg Curl Machine
- Description: This machine is used sitting on a bench and hooking your feet around the roller pads and pulling or lifting up using the quads.
- Muscles used/goal: Quads!
- Recommended: Body-Solid Cam Series Leg Extension and Curl Machine
Click here to see our Best Leg Extension Machine Recommendations & Reviews 2020
YouTube How To: Leg Extension
A Few Pointers: Take the time to adjust the back, seat and foot pad to get the most out of this machine.
The seat handles are for when you are able to lift more than you actually weigh, so you can hold yourself in place.
Leg or Hip Abduction
- Description: A seated weight machine that works your hip abductor (think: side butt) muscles as you push your legs out.
- Muscles used/goal: Hip abductor muscles including the gluteus medius and gluteus minimus.
- Recommended: SPORTSART Leg Hip Abduction
YouTube How To: Hip Abduction
A Few Pointers: Do one set seated upright and one set leaning forward to engage the glutes a little differently.
Abdominal Crunch or Cable Crunch Machine
- Description: This weight machine allows you to do weighted crunches that do not kill your back like sit-ups will.
- Muscles used/goal: Abs, obliques.
- Recommended: The Abs Company Vertical Crunch
YouTube How To: Use Abdominal Machines
A Few Pointers: You can use this machine to work obliques too! Just sit with your legs to one side or the other to target them.
Seated Calf Raise or Calf Press Machine
- Description: A calf raise done by sitting on the seat pad and lifting the weight with your calves.
- Muscles used/goal: Calves. Specifically the Soleus.
- Recommended: XMark Fitness 11-Gauge Seated Calf Raise
Click here to see our Best Calf Raise Recommendations & Reviews 2020
YouTube How To: Seated Calf Raises – How to Perform Them Correctly
A Few Pointers: Calves are notoriously hard to target. You MUST use your mind-body connection or in other words, focus your mind on your calves, to get them bigger and stronger.
Reverse Hyper Machine
- Description: The Reverse Hyper Machine is a weighted pendulum where you lie on the pad face down and lift your legs up with the strap around your ankles.
- Muscles used/goal: The entire posterior chain including glutes, hamstrings, lower and upper back.
- Recommended: Titan Reverse Hyper Machine
YouTube How To: How to Use the Reverse Hyper Machine
A Few Pointers: An excellent booty and back building machine. Also great for functional fitness and building supporting back muscles.
Truly an underappreciated and underutilized tool.
Rower, Erg or Ergometer
- Description: This is a rower machine designed for cardio. It is also called an Erg.
- Muscles used/goal: Back core and arm muscles including traps, lats, rear delts, biceps, and forearm.
- Recommended: Black Concept 2 Model D Rower
Click here to see our Best Rower Recommendations & Reviews 2020
YouTube: Rowing Machine Technique and Benefits
A Few Pointers: Most people start out with the bad form. This is one of the more challenging cardio machines and a lot can go wrong in terms of form.
Watch the how-to video to get the most from this hard to master cardio machine.
- Description: A cardio bike, sometimes called a fan bike, that uses a large fan for wind resistance.
- Muscles used/goal: Cardio workout that uses glutes, quads, hamstrings and calves primarily with some arm engagement thanks to the arm handles.
- Recommended: Assault AirBike Classic
Click here to see our Best Air Bike Recommendations & Reviews 2020
YouTube How To: Use The Assault Bike
A Few Pointers: Always adjust the seat to fit your legs. Your leg should be able to nearly fully extend and the seat should be back far enough so the handles don’t hit you as you pedal.
- Description: A cardio machine designed to simulate climbing.
- Muscles used/goal: A full body cardio workout targeting the glutes, hamstrings, quads, and calves.
- Recommended: MaxiClimber
Click here to see our Best Vertical Climber Recommendations & Reviews 2020
YouTube: MaxiClimber Full Body Workout
- Description: An upper body based cardio machine that somewhat mimics a skiing motion and really gets your heart pumping.
- Muscles used/goal: If you have the best form, you can work the lats, triceps, abs, pecs, and less the quads, hamstrings, glutes and claves.
- Recommended: Concept 2 SkiErg
Click here to see our Best Ski Erg Recommendations & Reviews 2020
YouTube How To: SkiErgTechnique
A Few Pointers: If you don’t get your form right, you may miss the lower body potential with this machine, so watch the video and see how it’s done.
That wraps up this list of gym equipment names.
I sincerely hope that this guide was helpful and something you can bookmark as a reference when you want to see a list of gym equipment names and pictures.
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