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By Amanda Cupido

The weight room at the Ryerson Athletic Centre (RAC) is like a maze to fitness newbies. Nondescript white machines and fluorescent exercise balls crowd the facility. Here’s what to do if you’re lost at the RAC.

How to get physical

It’s important that beginners seek advice from a certified professional before jumping into the crazy world of lifting weights.

“Any beginner should be shown the proper technique and form to get started,” says Nino Robles, the fitness coordinator at the RAC.

“They can get feedback about starting weights and developing a program.”

You can be like Richard Simmons

Using machines can be tricky since they only work isolated muscles. Robles advises that beginners avoid machines and use stability balls, medicine balls and resistance tubing.

He says it’s easier for beginners to work on muscle groups rather than putting focus on specific muscles.

Baby got back

Squats are known to help strengthen quads, hamstrings and your rear.

For regular squats, plant your feet shoulder-length apart and stand with your back against the wall.

Slowly bend your knees until your lower leg and upper leg are at a 90 degree angle. Have your hands on your hips so your legs can do all the work. Hold for 30 seconds and slowly move upright.

Try adding weight plates to your routine. While you do the squat, have your elbows slightly bent with the weight in front of you and plant your feet wider than shoulder width apart. Don’t add too much weight in your first try — you aren’t Arnold.

For added difficulty, use bosu balls. They look like half of a yoga ball stuck onto a black base.

Put the yoga ball part on the ground and the black base up. Do the same motion from the previous exercise, using your arms for balance.

The burning sensation isn’t so bad

Other than the usual sit ups and crunches, there are a lot of simple exercises that can get those washboard abs we all secretly want.

Try the pike crunch — using your butt as a pivot point, lie on your back and lift your legs in the air while bringing your arms toward them. Your legs and arms should stay straight at all times. Slowly return back to the starting position.

For more core action, try the horizontal leg raises. Lie on your back and have your hands underneath your butt. Keep your legs straight and slowly raise them up until they reach a 90 degree angle with your body. Hold for a second and then slowly bring them back down, without touching the ground.

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