Using Exercise Weight Machines Effectively

Using the right exercise machines in you fitness facility can be fast and effective in helping you to lose weight. In fact, studies show that resistance weight training can help boost weight loss by up to twenty percent when used in combination with diet and cardio training. There are many different varieties of machines available in most fitness facilities, and choosing the right one for you can sometimes be challenging. Today we will focus on some of the most effective machines available.

There are many different styles of machines available to choose from making resistance training safe and easy to approach. Styles include hydraulic resistance, plate loaded, weight stacks and resistance bands, but whatever you have available will be suitable for our purposes. Let’s look at how to get a full body workout with just a few single purpose exercise machines.

Chest press: This machine will simulate a bench press and comes in many varieties including inclined, declined and standard, but all these variations will work the same muscle groups: the chest (pectoralis major) is the main muscle worked during this exercise with the shoulders and triceps acting as support muscles. This is a great machine to use to effectively work one on the major muscle groups.

Abdominal Crunch: As with the other machines, this will come in a variety of designs, but they will all work to effectively add resistance to your abdominal crunch movement. As the name of the machine implies, it will work your abdominal muscles, (your rectus abdominus, specifically). There are abdominal machines that twist from left to right as well, working more of your core muscles, but it puts an unnecessary amount of strain on your lumbar spine without much benefit to your side abs (obliques); it’s not worth the possible strain to your spinal ligaments.

Lat Pull-down: This is another great staple of machine equipment. Acting as the counter-balance and “pull” movement opposite the chest press, this great movement will mainly work the large muscles of your back, (the latissimus dorsi or ‘lats’) as well as the biceps, middle back and shoulder muscles to a lesser degree. There are a ton of great variations on this one too, including behind the neck, reverse grip, wide grip and close grip. For starters, stick to the standard grip with hands a bit wider than shoulder width apart.

Leg Press: Another great compound exercise that can be performed safely and effectively on a machine will finish the full body machine workout. Being mostly analogous to a squat, (minus the stabilizing muscles), the leg press mainly works the quadriceps, as well as the calves, glutes and hamstrings. This is a great movement to hit most of the main muscle groups of the lower body.

All these movements can be done with free weights as well as machines, and as your strength and confidence in form improves, it is a great idea to mix up your routine and include barbell and dumbbell movements as well as machine exercises. All strength training will aid in weight loss, so don’t be afraid to try something new.

Choosing A Type Of Free Weight

Free weights are weights that are not enclosed in a machine. You have probably seen barbells, dumbbells, and medicine balls. These can be good for you because it will make you use more stabilizing muscles as you have to keep your balance. Deciding which free weights you use means knowing what types there are and what you can do with them.

A standard barbell is generally a rigid, 7-foot long bar with weights on the ends. Some you can add disks of weight to, and some you can’t. The standard barbell is used in chest presses, where a person reclines on a bench and pushes the barbell up. They can also be held behind the neck while a person stands from a squatting position. A safety squat, or yoke bar, is a type of barbell made specifically for this exercise. It has thickly-padded arms that come off the middle of the bar. You place the arms on your shoulders and grab the handles at the end of the bars. A cambered, or arched, bar is bent in the middle; this works out the posterior muscles more than the standard bar.

Dumbbells have the benefit of not being as risky and also encourage balanced muscle-building. You can’t subconsciously push more on one side than another because they work each limb individually. They are just like barbells, but the rods are shorter. Dumbbells can come in sets of graduated weights and can have adjustable weight as well. If you are using them, you will want to check for anti-slip grips on the bars. They can work most muscles by lifting them through a range of motion. Dumbbells are used in curls by pulling them up to your chest; you can lift them straight out from your sides, and you can use them in extensions. You can exercise your back forearms with dumbbell wrist extensions; you hold the dumbbell in your hand with the palm up and raise lower it with your wrist.

If you prefer something without rods, medicine balls and kettle bells might appeal to you. The medicine ball is a weighted ball; you can throw one to combine power training with your cardio training. Kettle bells are small weights with handles on them. You can use them as an alternative to barbells when you do squats, and this will tone your legs.

Whatever type of free weight that you decide to use, remember to only use weights that you can lift with proper posture. If you can’t, it is too heavy for you to use safely. Good luck finding the weights that are right for you.