The Most Important Piece of Equipment in the Gym

Earlier this week, I started a series of articles about essential home gym equipment.  My take is a bit different than those blogs that are trying to sell you a product or bias you towards a certain type of training.  I want to challenge you to think about the question a little bit differently.  I promise that I will get to talking about actual exercise equipment eventually, but for now, I started the series with:

But What’s the Most Important Tool in the Gym?

Think about what you’re doing in the gym.  You’re moving.  You’re practicing muscle contractions, coordinating joints, challenging heart rate and respiration.  All those systems you’re stimulating and training are part of one big system that is at the same time the target of training and the tool to accomplish it: the body.


The body IS the most important piece of equipment in the gym.  If you lack awareness of how to use this tool, any other exercise tool merely becomes another way to hurt yourself.  However, if you understand some things about how your body works, your other exercise tools become useful extensions of the body, or apparatus to challenge the body in new ways.

The human body is a big topic, and rather than write a long treatise on anatomy and physiology (which I’d probably screw up), I just want to highlight a few key points you should have in mind when following your home exercise program:

  • Your body is made up of a LOT of complex, underlying systems, such as your digestive system, nervous system, and endocrine system.  These systems need to be functioning very well before your body will be able to perform for you in training, or be able to adapt positively to training.
  • Your body is held together by a skeleton.  That skeleton is moved at the joints by muscles.  Muscles are connected to bones by tendons and bones are connected to bones by ligaments.  When we exercise, we’re using muscles to move or stabilize joints.  The result is to make our bones, muscles, tendons, and ligaments stronger.
  • Your brain sends signals through nerves to tell your muscles what to do.  The more times we’ve practiced doing a certain movement perfectly, the better our nervous system gets at telling our muscular system to repeat that pattern.  That’s why repetition and proper form are important.
  • Your body derives fuel for activity from various sources.  By challenging and training these fuel systems, you can improve the function of your heart, lungs, circulation, and cellular metabolism.
  • Your body needs nourishment, sleep, and a calm state in order to recover from training and regenerate itself in the ways intended by your training.  This is why what you do in the bedroom, in your mind and emotions, and in the kitchen, are arguably more important than what you do in the gym.

With a basic understanding of a few of these big ideas, you should be able to get the most out of your body in training.  Once you’re in touch with how your body works in training and how it responds to training, you’ll be better able to make use of those external pieces of exercise equipment.

Published by nicnakis

Nicholas |nik-uh-luhs| n. a male given name: from Greek words meaning "victory of the people" John |jon| n. a male given name: from Hebrew Yohanan, derivative of Yehohanan "God has been gracious" Nakis |nah-kis| n. a Greek family name derived from the patronymic ending -akis (from Crete) Amha |am-hah| n. an Ethiopian given name meaning "gift", from Geez Selassie |suh-la-see| n. Ethiopian name meaning "trinity", from Geez

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