Have you noticed how much equipment you find in gyms these days? There’s no end to the amount engineering genius on display – you can pretty much replicate any movement on contraptions reminiscent of medieval instruments of torture. It got me thinking, does it make it easier or more intimidating?

I’ve always pretty much stuck to the safety of the familiar machines in the shallow end of the gym. Wading out into the depths of the free weights section (heaven forbid the pull-up bar), seemed a little too hardcore. What if I do it wrong? Or pick Desperate Dan’s favourite bench? It’s always seemed like a foreign place. I reassured myself that a quick round of cardio and some basic machine-assisted lifting and dumbbells was on par with my level of strength and fitness. That was gym.

In truth, I hid amongst the machines, relying on what I knew rather than really challenging my body and pushing for solid gains. Sure, I built up a sweat and left feeling better than when I started, but I never ventured into the heavy metal corner. Sound familiar?

We’ve published countless features extolling the virtues of cross training and the benefits of free weights, how to switch up your workout and boost your cardio. Surely enough to give anyone a sense of confidence to make your way across to the bench?
Yet many men avoid the free weights section out of ignorance or preference. Up till now, me included.

If the machines work for you, stick with them, but consider mixing it up with some bar basics. Here’s an old school workout you might want to try. Later this week we’ll be posting perfect form videos for each move so you can take them on with confidence.

Over the past four weeks, the daily workouts at Roark have taken me back to basics, using nothing more than barbells, the pull-up bar, benches and boxes. With a few ropes and tyres thrown in. Not a machine in sight. So imagine the looks when we saw chains (see pic below) now hanging up next to the bands (whips?) after some new equipment arrived at the gym. Here’s trouble. No doubt they’ll be introduced into a euphemistically named “Daily”.

I’m still building up the confidence to ask where the chains come in…