Navigating your way through aisles of heavy gym equipment marked with knobs, handles, pulleys, and cables can feel more than a little intimidating. Those “in the know” make strength training on these machines look effortless, but if you’re new to the gym, how are you supposed to know where to sit, how to move, or what adjustments you’re supposed to make?
Compounding the challenge is that every gym manufacturer and brand makes their equipment slightly different. All chest press machines will work more or less the same way, but the knobs, handles, and adjustments won’t be identical when using a Life Fitness model or a Cybex model. This can put new gym-goers at a slight disadvantage. Chest press machines will work more or less the same way, but the knobs, handles, and adjustments won’t be identical when using a Life Fitness model or a Cybex model. This can put new gym-goers at a slight disadvantage.
The good news is, strength training on machines isn’t rocket science. Machines are designed to make strength training comparatively easy by guiding your body through controlled ranges of motion, rather than forcing you to control your own movements with free weights. And fitness manufacturers want to make the process as simple for you to follow as possible, so keep these broad tips in mind:
Once you’ve set the machine correctly, choose a weight that feels challenging. You should be able to perform roughly 10 to 12 repetitions in a row, where the last one or two reps push you to your limits. If you’re able to churn through 12 reps without a problem, it’s time to increase the amount of weight you’re lifting. If you have a hard time getting through four or five repetitions, you might want to consider going a little lighter. Otherwise, keep these lifting tips in mind:
The seated leg press machine is a great way to target your quads, glutes, and hamstrings in a more controlled manner than doing squats or lunges. The trick is setting the machine up correctly.
You can typically make adjustments to the location of the footrest or seat to accommodate different heights. You may also be able to adjust the seat back to allow a more comfortable body angle.
Plate-weight loaded leg presses are another popular and accessible option for new gym-goers, but there are a couple important things to keep in mind:
Plate-loaded leg press machines aren’t hard to use, and most don’t have many adjustments to think about.
The leg extension machine isolates your quadriceps muscles. The movement itself is fairly straightforward, but the machine can be more challenging to adjust.
The goal is for the backrest to be positioned at a location that allows your knee to bend just past the front of the seat—you don’t want your thighs extending too far past the edge of the seat, and you don’t want the seat to be pressing into the back of your calves.
After the appropriate adjustments are made simply sit on the machine, select a weight, and perform the exercise by extending your knees fully, then bending them again to lower the weights. Control the movement through the extension and lowering phases.
The lying leg curl machine isolates the hamstrings. Like the leg extension machine, the exercise is fairly straightforward, but adjusting the machine can be a bit of a challenge.
The goal is for you to lie on your stomach on the machine’s pads with the calf pad positioned just above your ankles at a height that doesn’t make your knees feel like they’re hyperextending. In the starting position, your legs should be straight from your hips to your heels.
Typically there are two adjustment points on the leg curl machine—one where the calf pad is, that allows you to move it closer to your body or farther away, depending on your height, and the other at the knee’s hinge point that enables you to move the calf pad up or down as needed.
When you’ve made the appropriate adjustments, the exercise is simple:
The assisted pull-up and dip machine is typically a combination machine, where depending on which handles you hold during the exercise, you change the muscle groups you’re targeting. If you hold the handles high above your head, you’re targeting your upper back, shoulders, biceps, and core, as you perform an assisted pull-up. If you hold the handles positioned just to the outside of your hips, you’re targeting your triceps, shoulders, and core, as you perform an assisted dip.
The main thing to remember about this machine is that selecting a weight is opposite of how you typically select a weight. On most selectorized machines, the weight you choose from the stack is the amount of weight you’re lifting. On the assisted pull-up and dip machine, you’re responsible for lifting your own bodyweight, so the weight you choose from the stack is the amount of weight you’re getting assisted with.
For example, if you weight 150-pounds, and you selected 20-pounds from the weight stack, that means you’re only getting assisted with 20-pounds of weight, so you’re responsible for lifting 130-pounds. This means if you’re new to the exercise, you want to choose a heavier weight from the weight stack—possibly one close to your own body weight—before trying the exercise.
Regardless of which exercise you perform, the basic parameters are the same:
The lat pull-down machine targets your upper back, especially the expansive latissimus dorsi muscles. Most machines don’t have many adjustment points, but you may need to adjust the seat height or the thigh pad for comfort. Test this before you start the exercise. You should be able to plant your feet flat on the floor with your knees bent comfortably; your lower thighs, just above your knees, should press firmly into the thigh pad.
The chest press machine targets your pecs, shoulders, and triceps. The key is to make adjustments to the seat, backrest, and the position of the handles to ensure you’re enjoying a full range of motion.
The seated selectorized row machine targets the large muscles of your mid- to upper-back, especially your trapezius, rhomboids, and lats, as well as your biceps. The key is to make sure the chest rest is adjusted appropriately so you don’t have to roll your shoulders forward or hunch your upper back to reach the handles. You should be able to sit tall, your feet flat on the ground, your chest pressed comfortably into the chest pad with your shoulders rolled back when you grip the handles. When the appropriate adjustments have been made, the movement is simple:
The seated cable row is similar in function and intention as the selectorized row machine, you just have a little more control over your body’s positioning and the handle attachment you use, which can alter the targeted muscle groups slightly.
The shoulder press machine looks a lot like the chest press machine, but instead of pressing the handles straight out in front of you, you’ll press the handles straight over your head to target the muscles of your deltoids. Like the chest press machine, though, the main adjustment point is the seat height. You want to position the seat so the machine’s handles are aligned with your shoulders. When you’ve made the appropriate adjustments, simply:
Link to the original article: https://www.verywell.com/what-you-need-to-know-about-joining-a-gym-3495996
Tags: gym equipment, gym help, gym tips, how to, how to exercise, how to lift, Lifting, lifting tips