If you have ever had a gym membership and aren't a professional bodybuilder, you probably have been intimidated by the sheer volume of gadgets and doohickeys that cover the floor.

Where to start?

Relax. The folks at the website Thrillist.com have simplified things for you. You really only need five machines to get an effective workout.

  1. The rowing machine. It burns a ton of calories and forces you to use about 80% of the muscles in your body. A lot of people don't use it because they're not familiar with it. Or a lot of gyms will only have one and someone else is always on it.
  2. The pull-up machine. This is for those of us who can't do actual pull-ups, which is pretty much most of us. You kneel on a bench with a counterweight that assists you. Pull-ups are good because you have to use almost every muscle in your upper body.
  3. The cable pulley station. That's the huge thing you stand under that has cables with handles on either side. You can do a multitude of exercises with this contraption. Just google "cable machine exercises".
  4. The preacher curl machine. That's where you do curls with your arms on that padded thing and it targets your biceps. This machine is a bit better than dumbbells in that it keeps you from swinging them and using the momentum to cheat.
  5. The leg press machine. If back problems keep you from doing squats, use this machine. (Although some claim that the leg press causes back problems.) The point is, don't ignore legs.

Keep in mind that only the rowing machine gives you a good cardio workout. So if you only use these five machines, you probably should be jogging or biking too.