During any discussion on the greatness of Fort Collins, Best of CSU and the Rec Center have always been mentioned in one hallowed breath.
Of course, the gym at CSU has been hailed as one of best in the nation, rated a LEED certification of gold by bestvalueschools.com and ranked third best in the country by universityprimetime.com. Those are some top-level credentials right there.
It should be no surprise that with such a great facility, the student body takes full advantage of the center. A haven for the student looking to build his/her temples of greatness, College Avenue presents four exercises and machines at the Rec Center that should be incorporated into the weekly workout.
1. Flat Bench Press
No surprise to the seasoned veteran cranking out those pre-workout-induced reps, the bench press is a top exercise to perform. A great overall upper-body exercise, the bench press works your abs, pectorals and triceps, not including the stabilization of shoulder and biceps.
This classic exercise helps increase physical strength, mass and overall athletic functions. To perform at the bench press, place your hands shoulder-width on the bar, or farther apart if you are going for a wide-grip press.
Raise the bar in the air until your arms are extended and then lower the bar to your chest. Inhale while doing so, then when your triceps are parallel to the ground, explode upward while exhaling.
“I like this exercise because I can feel it work my chest,” said Josh Bender, a gym-goer and a construction management freshman.
There is a reason why, every Monday evening, there stands a line of rippling muscle waiting for a turn on the lowly bench press. It works.
The bench will not cause you to miraculously gain swollen arms. The only way for muscle mass to increase is through higher weights and lift to failure, so performing this exercise with a low weight and high reps will tone those arms to a pinnacle of perfection you will be proud to show off.
2. Barbell Squat
This is a favorite for males and females alike. If you do not incorporate this exercise into your weekly workout, then you should look in the mirror and question your life choices. A great exercise that mainly works quads, it will also train glutes, hamstrings, calves and muscle in the lower back and core.
Barbell squats are the ultimate leg exercise. To perform the barbell squat, start with legs planted shoulder-width apart and the bar on your shoulder blades, hands gripping the bar to stabilize the weight.
Then, lower your body as if sitting in an invisible chair, until your thighs are parallel to the ground. It is important that you do not hunch your back; make sure to keep your back straight as you squat. One tip to doing this workout: envision a bowl balancing on your head (weird, but it works).
After you are in the squat position, drive your legs and push up until you are in the start position. That constitutes one rep. It is important that you push up through the heel of your foot and not the ball, as the exercise will be more effective that way.
Jonny Tran, a CSU grad and workout fanatic, explains why squats are his favorite exercise. “It’s like a metaphor for life, if there’s weight on your shoulder, then just get up,” Tran said.
The exercise is so great that people have symbolically connected it to our existence. Just another reason to try it out.
3. Overhand Pull-Ups/ Assisted Pull-Up
Okay, Rams, look here. Word around the gym is that 70 percent of the people there cannot do a pull-up. Do not be another statistic.
Why is the statistic so high? The pull-up is difficult, as you are lifting your own body weight using only your arms and back, and many people lack the skill to do so. The difficulty comes with the strength that is needed to perform the task.
The muscles worked are primarily the biceps and back, along with minor training everywhere else. The benefits of performing a pull-up are more than rewarding, though, physically and mentally.
“Pull-ups challenges my weaknesses,” said Joe Mpumuro, an undeclared freshman. “It’s one of the few exercises to work everything in your body.”
To perform the overhand pull-up, start with arms shoulder-length apart, gripping the bar with your palms facing away from you. Crossing your ankles makes the exercise easier and more effective by keeping the body balanced. Hanging from the bar, pull your body up until the bar is level with the collar bone.
The exercise is as simple as that and even more effective. If you cannot do it on the bar, then fear not, for the assisted pull-up machine will help you go through the motions. The pull-up is an essential exercise that will help build strength, and ultimately, health.
Those who hit the Rec Center on the regular will have noticed the new machines upstairs that popped out of nowhere. Where the old leg machines used to rest on the second floor is a brand new herd of cable machines.
These new machines are like the limited-time deals at Taco Bell. You were used to that Dorito-shell crunchy taco, and now, as you enter the domain of your midnight snack, your horror-stricken face is greeted with the new special deal of that one burrito-quesadilla pizza combo mix.
Many gym-goers favor these new machines for their durability, horizontal adjustments and wide options of exercises to perform.
Though multiple exercises can be done on the machine, let’s focus in on the standing cable fly. It is an exercise that will isolate and train the pectoral muscles.
To perform the standing cable fly, set the vertical height of the cable arms to between a setting of two or three, or just high up on the scale.
Grab the left handle with your left hand and vice versa. Take a step forward with either the left or right leg forward in a slight lunge, just a little bend in the leading knee. Lean forward at a 30-degree angle, keeping your back straight.
By leaning forward, you isolate the chest. Standing straight will work the shoulders, which is not what we are looking for. Now, with both hands on the handles, brings the handles to the front of your chest, while trying not to bend the elbows too much.
The exercise should be felt in the pectoral region. A great chest workout, exercises on this machine are like the metaphorical burrito-quesadilla pizza combo mix. You were not sure of it in the beginning, but now you are going to order it on the daily.
Have fun getting fit, Rams.
This article was created for the 2014 Best of CSU issue produced by the College Avenue Magazine staff.