Cardiovascular Equipment

The goal during cardiorespiratory training is to increase the heart rate through targeting large muscle groups. Intensity can be monitored on the following pieces of equipment by using a Heart Rate Monitor, the RPE scale or the talk test.

Heart rate monitors are small pieces of equipment that are attached to the client’s torso and send information to a computer. When using a heart rate monitor it is important the train at a certain intensity of HR Max. Maximum HR can be calculated by 220 – age. Decreased intensity 60% Max HR, moderate exercise 60% max HR, high intensity 80% Max HR.

RPE is another way of measuring cardiorespiratory intensity. The RPE stands for the Rate of Perceived Exertion based on the patient’s impression of how hard they are working. Please see below:




Treadmills are amongst the most commonly used cardiorespiratory equipment. They can be used for walking, jogging, running and interval training. Treadmills are a great weight bearing exercise, meaning that not only the cardiorespiratory system is targeted, but also the large muscle groups found in the lower body. Difficulty can be adjusted on the treadmill by increasing the incline and or the speed. Treadmills are an effective piece of equipment in both warm ups, cool downs and the bulk of cardiorespiratory training. Treadmills do place a load on the knees and lower back in the case of injuries.

Elliptical Trainers


Elliptical trainers are a very effective full body workout, targeting both the upper and lower limbs as well as the oblique system of the trunk. Elliptical trainers, which are also weight bearing, are considered to be non-impact and place a gentle motion on the knees and back. Intensity can be increased by increasing the resistance.



Exercise bikes are an effective lower body, non-weight bearing piece of cardiorespiratory equipment. Bikes come in many different types, such as stationary bikes, recumbent bikes, watt bikes and virtual bikes. Bikes are a very effective cardiorespiratory modality, offering less impact on the knees and often with added back support. Intensity can be increased through the resistance or wattage depending on the type of bike. It is important to get the seat height correct, which can be measured with the client standing next to the bike. Make sure the seat site is at the height of the hip. Make sure the patients knees don’t bend too much or are too straight when cycling.

Rowing Machines


Rowing machines are a full body, non-weight bearing, and low impact piece of equipment. The movement involves pushing of the legs and pulling with the arms. All though it is considered low impact, it can place pressure on the lower back, knees and shoulders. It is important that correct technique and posture is maintained throughout the motion to ensure no injuries arise.

Rowing machines are very useful as workout tools when used properly. Rowing machines allow you to strengthen your core, legs, arm, and back muscles; however, to have an effective workout, you need to use the rowing machine correctly. Moving your body in the correct sequence is vital for a successful and safe work out on a rowing machine.

  1. Beginning the Rowing Movement

Lock your feet into the straps. Before you begin, make sure your feet are secured to the foot plate. To do so, use the straps provided on the machine. Pull the straps across the top of your foot. Secure them until they’re tight to the point your feet do not slide around on the foot plate.

  1. Get into the starting position.

The starting position for rowing is known as “the catch.” To get into the catch, bend your knees until your body is near the handle at the front of the machine. Grab the handle securely with both hands. Make sure your back is straight. Hinge forward at the hips so the torso is tilted in a forward leaning position over your legs. Keep your back as straight as you can. Make sure to grab the handle firmly. You do not want it to slide out of your hands while you are rowing.

  1. Starting the Row

Push off the foot plate with your leg muscles. When using a rowing machine, you’re moving one body part at a time — start with the legs. When you push off the foot plate, you will be using your quads and glutes to extend your legs. Do not make the mistake of using your full-body all at once during this exercise. Rowing properly means you are progressing from using your legs, then your core, then your arms in succession — not all at once in a single full-body move. The muscles used for a rowing machine should be 60% legs, 20% core, and 20% arms/shoulders. Keep your arms and torso in the original position.

Lean back into a 45 degree angle. Once your legs are straightened out, use your core and hamstrings to lean back to a roughly 45-degree angle, keeping your spine straight.

Your core muscles keep the pelvis and upper torso locked together — this will stabilize your back, preventing movement along the spine which could lead to injury.

  1. Completing the Movement

Practice arm isolations. Once your legs are straight and your back is tilted, you can practice including the arm movements. Your core will remain engaged, holding your torso at a 45-degree angle as you pull the handle toward your chest. Bend your elbows to pull the handle towards your chest. Pull the handle inward until it touches just below your chest. This move will cause your latissimus dorsi to contract to stabilize the shoulder, the deltoids and triceps contract to pull the elbow back and the handle towards the sternum.

Extend your arms while reaching your torso forward. You will now begin to return to starting position, following the reverse sequence of movement — arms, core, legs. Extend your arms from your chest, then tilt your torso forward out of the 45-degree angle. Extend your arms first and then hinge your torso forward at the hips. Bend your knees to return to the starting position. Keep bending your knees until you’re back in the original position. You should have your knees bent and your body close to the front of the machine, with your hands firmly grasped around the handle. You can now do the movement again. Keep in mind that the movement is not a two-count movement — one count out, one count in. Rowing properly is a three-count movement, with one power-driven count as you extend your body out with the stroke. Returning to the catch should take two counts, which gives you time to recover for your next pull.

  1. Correcting Common Mistakes

Start at the right setting. If you work out at a gym, the rowing machine may be set to a very high or low setting when you’re starting out. Make sure to check the settings before you begin rowing. If you’ve never rowed before, you do not want to start out on a very high setting. The higher the gear, the heavier the machine will feel as you move your body back and forth. For beginners, a setting between three and five is recommended.

Engage the right muscles when rowing. Many people use the rowing machine to work their arms; however, you’re better off using something like free weights if you’re just looking for an arm workout. Remember, the rowing machine engages your legs, core, and arms. Use all these muscle groups when rowing instead of just using your arms. Concentrate mostly on your legs when moving your body back and forth on the rowing machine. Again, about 60% of your body’s movement should come from your legs. Only about 20% of your body’s movement comes from your arms. The other 20% should come from your core.

Do not move your arms and legs at the same time. Remember that there is a specific order that you should move your body on a rowing machine. You start with your legs, then move onto your core and hamstrings, and finish with your arms and back. Make sure to row in order instead of moving your legs, arms, and core at the same time. Keep your back straight. If you hunch while rowing, you’ll end up with a sore back later. Be aware of your posture through the entire rowing process. Make sure to keep your back as straight as possible during every step of the rowing movement.

Stair Climbers

Stair climber

Stair climbers duplicate the movement of climbing upstairs with the focus being the lower body. It is an effective way to increase HR and strengthen the lower limbs through weight bearing movements. When placing the heals onto the steps the participant activates the glutes more, where as if they push through their toes they activate the calf muscles more. It does place pressure on the knees and is not advised for beginners or participants with knee injuries.

Resistance Training Equipment

Free Weights

Free weights

Free weights exercises are exercises where the resistance is provided by any free moving object such a dumbbell. It always comprises of moving the weight from one point to another. For example, the bicep curl. The movement replicated when using free weights are often natural movements that occur through a range of motion. Weights can range from very light for beginners, too very heavy for more experienced athletes.

Free weights activate both the agonist and antagonist muscles coupled in most force couples. As in the bicep curl where both the Biceps Brachii and the Triceps muscles are activated. Free weight exercises enable normal active daily living movements to be replicated, increasing one functionality.

Free weights can get some getting used too, and it’s important that proper technique is applied whenever using them. There is also a risk of injury when dropping the weights.

Body Weight

Where ever resistance is provided by your own body weight is defined at body weight exercise. This type of exercise is effective for beginners and can be used to teach clients how to use correct technique before adding any weight. This type of exercise has a decreased risk of injury and can be used to focus on co-ordination and increased ROM. It can be very functional whilst replicating normal movements of active daily living.

Body weight exercises can however be very difficult for overweight clients. Exercises such as pullups or pushups may be impossible for them with their excessive weight. In this case free weights would be a better option to build up the strength of a muscle before moving onto body weight resistance.

Exercises can include: squats, pushups, pull ups and lunges.

Varied Fitness Machines

Adjustable Benches


Adjustable benches resembled normal benches but are designed more for weight training. The bench can be adjusted depending on the body part you wish to train. When inclining the bench, you tend to work the muscle fibers of the upper chest, whilst declining the bench will emphasis the lower chest. The seat can also be adjusted to sit upright, which can be used as back support during bicep curls or shoulder press. Benches are not to be used for exercises other than weight lifting, such a stepping or aerobic exercise. The five-point contact when using the bench can help maintain proper posture whilst lifting. These 5 points of contact include: feet flat on the floor, buttocks and lower back on the bench, shoulders on the bench and head on the bench.


Smith machine

This self-spotting piece of equipment is used for weight training. It is a barbell that is fixed within steel rails. The movements it allows are vertical or near-vertical movements only. The Smith Machine is a safe and effective way of training with heavy weights that does not need to be re-racked after each set. Models often come with locks or pegs to stop the barbell at any given height. It does not go to say that this piece of equipment comes without any risk of injury. Large loads can be placed on the spine and it is important to maintain correct technique and safety measures always. The Smith Machine is an effective piece of equipment for beginner weight trainers before showing them how to perform exercises with free weights or barbells. It can be known to produce sheer stress on the body and only includes one movement pattern, therefore decreasing its functionality. The most common exercise done with the Smith Machine is squats.

Cable Crossover Machine

x over

This is an effective full body workout piece of equipment and can use for many exercises from hip extension, rows or pulls downs. The cable machine is a low-impact machine consisting of a pule system attached to weights. There is a low risk of injury when using the cable cross over machine and it is great for beginners.

Leg Curl and Leg Extension

Leg curl
Leg extension

These machines focus on the hamstrings and quadriceps respectively. It is vital that the knee joint is aligned with the fulcrum arm of the machine. Therefore, the machine seat and or leg pad must be adjusted to ensure this. The leg pad for both machines must be positioned above the ankle at the start position, allowing it to roll to a position in line with the ankle at full knee flexion or extension. Placing the leg pad at a higher position, closer to the knee, will shorten the lever and make the exercise easier. This is recommended for beginners.

During the movements, it is important that the hips don’t lift

Leg Press

Leg press

This machine targets the gluteal muscles, quadriceps and to a lesser extent, the hamstrings. It is not recommended for beginners, as it requires coordination and leg strength. The risk of injury is high for beginner participants.

When performing the movement, the feet must be placed just outside shoulder width in the middle of the footplate. The force of the press must be through the whole foot, not allowing the heels or toes to lift. Once the plate has been lifted, the safety catches can be released to allow for a greater range of motion when flexing the knees and hips.

It is not advisable to allow the knees to flex beyond 90 degrees. The back and head must also be in contact with the bench throughout the movement.

Calf Raise

Calf raise
Seated calf raise

The calf raise can be performed using the standing apparatus or seated apparatus. The standing calf raise is more functional in nature and focuses on primarily the gastrocnemius. The seated calf raises focuses on the soleus.

The standing calf raises requires an unlocking of the knees (slight flexion), with an upright posture and head facing forward. The ball of the foot is placed on the foot plate, with the rest of the foot hanging off. The movement involves raising the heels to engage the calf, and then lowering the heels as far as possible to increase the range of motion for the heel raise.

The seated calf raise involves a start position with the knees in 90-degree flexion. The back must be upright throughout the motion, and head facing forward. When raising the heels, the participant must not lean back, and avoid pulling with their upper body.

Lat Pull Down

lat pull down

The lat pull down machine targets the latissimus dorsi muscles and the biceps. The starting position is seated with the back upright and head facing forward. The goal of the movement is to pull the bar down to the sternum without lifting the head or leaning back. The lower back will need to arch to engage the lats appropriately. The position of the hands on the bar can be adjusted to allow for comfort, but the position demonstrated in the picture above is usually ideal.

Pec Deck

pec dec

The pec deck machine targets the pectoral muscles. It is a simple exercise, and ideal for beginners. The seat height must be adjusted to ensure the participant can sit with their elbows in contact with the bottom of the arm pads, and the elbows bent at 90 degrees. The elbows should be positioned just below or level with the shoulders. The hips of the participant should not lift during motion, and their back should stay in contact with the back rest and the head should always be relaxed and looking forward.

Chest Press

chest p[ress

The chest press machine engages similar muscle to the pec deck, but also engages the triceps. The setup is like that of the pec deck, with the seat being set at a height where the hands are placed slightly below or level with the shoulder at the start of the movement. The back must stay in contact with the back rest always and the head must be relaxed and looking forward.

Shoulder Press

shldr press

The shoulder press machine engages the deltoid muscles and the triceps. The seated position is identical to that of the chest press. The seat height should be set at a position where the handles of the machine are just below the level of the shoulders at the start of the movement. The back must stay in contact with the back rest always and the head must be relaxed and looking forward.

Seated Rows

seated row

The seated row machine engages the latissimus dorsi and bicep muscles. The start position involves a seat height where the participant is comfortable with their knees and hips at 90 degrees, and the handles of the machine just below the level of the shoulder. It is important that the lower back is always slightly arched throughout the movement and the chest is always pushed out. The head must remain relaxed and looking forward.

Core training

Yoga Ball


The yoga ball is a large ball that comes in 3 different sizes. It can be used for many different core exercises. It is important that correct technique is applied whenever using the yoga ball as exercises can place some pressure on the lower back.

Bosu balls


This is a yoga ball ‘cut in half’ with a stable base. This ball can be used for both core and stability training. It is more stable than the yoga ball and is great way to introduce beginners to a core program that utilizes equipment.

Medicine Balls


These balls are the size of a soccer ball and can weight anything from 1 – 10kgs. These balls can be added into any core routine to increase the intensity of the exercise. For example: when do a V-sit crunch, hold the medicine in your hands or between your knees for added resistance.

Click here for guidelines related to the following tasks