Fit Tip: Finding Your Way Around the Weight Room
August 14, 2012 / Category: Fitness Advisor
Understanding how to use and progress through the weight machines at the gym helps you not only get a good workout, but also avoid injury. Weight machines offer a fixed motion system where exercises are guided by the machine, helping target specific muscle groups in a stabilized, controlled environment. It’s a great way to add variety to the functional strength training workouts you may already be doing with free weights, balls and bands. Because range of motion is consistent for each repetition, this type of movement may feel more familiar and intuitive and can help prevent injury and promote good form.
Every fitness level can benefit from weight machines at the gym, but beginners often feel more comfortable starting with this type of equipment. Advanced exercisers are also attracted to the consistent and dependable range of motion because they can safely use heavier weight to build more strength in specific muscle groups (like a very heavy bench press).
Keep these tips in mind when using weight machines:
- Select the proper weight machine for the part of the body you wish to work. All weight machines at the gym will have placards that show which muscle groups are being worked.
- Review the instructions and reference the on-product diagram to make sure you’re comfortable with the movement.
- Take the time to adjust the weight machine to fit your body. Most machines will have a seat adjustment or options for moving the arm and leg position.
- Pick a weight appropriate for your fitness level. Challenge yourself to fatigue in 10-12 reps. Complete three sets of 10-12 repetitions with a few minutes rest in between before moving to the next machine.
- Be respectful of the next user. Wipe down the weight machine and return the settings to the neutral position.
Here are a few of our favorite machines to get you started and give you a full body workout:
Chest Press Machine: Flat or incline, you’ll sit or lay down, grip a pair of handles, and then push your arms out and away from your body.
Leg Press Machine: Lie down, bend your knees, place your feet on the platform and press your legs away from your body.
Abdominal Crunch Machine: There are several variations of this machine with the main movement crunching forward and contracting the abs.