When you decide to workout in a gym, you have to be fully prepared and aware as well. While bodyweight workouts have different forms and techniques, using machines is a whole other ball game. Each and every machine in a gym has been designed to target a specific set of muscles, which means that the wrong technique could actually prove to be fatal.
Getting the technique right is what makes the workout effective in the first place, so understanding the technique is very essential. Why?
- To avoid any injuries
- To make the target muscles work
- To take full advantage of a particular machine
- To strengthen and isolate muscle groups
A prime strategy for getting shredded would be to start working out at home. This means you don’t have 75% of the normal excuses available as regular gym goers.
Let’s take a look at 7 of the most used machines in a gym and their proper technique:
- Elliptical trainer or “CrossFit”
Cardio is always an essential part of anyone’s workout regime. It’s what gets the adrenaline pumping and also is important for burning calories and warming up the body before starting on weights. The great thing about elliptical trainers is that they give a full body workout; the arms, legs, and core too.
Technique: Always keeping your feet flat on the foot pads and don’t lose the rhythm of motion. Gripping the poles or handles is also important, because that’s what makes the motion even more effective. For a more challenging workout, increase the resistance in the machine.
- Leg press
The leg press is great for working on your hamstrings and glutes, giving you the benefits of squats but making it slightly easy to do so. Being a weighted machine, the leg press can be quite easily adjusted as per your convenience and ease of use.
Technique: Keep your feet slightly apart, at least as wide as your torso. Remember to push with the strength that you get from your legs and not anywhere else. The aim is to feel a pull in your thighs and hamstrings. Also, make sure you test a weight set before using it, because the legs can become too sore after using very heavy weights.
- Leg extension
Another very popular and effective leg workout equipment is the leg extension machine. This machine is amazing for building muscle in the legs. First timers usually struggle a bit with this machine, as they almost immediately feel the soreness in their thighs.
Technique: The most important thing is to make sure your feet are securely supporting the rolling leg handle. If the grip is improper, you could lose control of the machine. Secondly, use the handles on the side of the seat for support, and this really does assist with the exercise. Finally, set the right weights and make sure it’s not too heavy or light.
- Lat Pulldown
For better upper back muscles and shoulders, the lat pulldown machine is a very good option. This machine works for the Latissimus Dorsi muscle group and is also fairly easy to use, once the technique is understood. It also works as an arm workout when the weights are increased.
Technique: Your legs need to be perpendicular to the ground, the knees need to be secured under the cushioned support. You need to grip onto the main handles while standing itself, and slowly lower it as you get yourself seated. This machine works best with a wide grip on the bars, so make sure you hold them appropriately.
- Rowing machine
The rowing machine is another one that provides a full body workout. It works your legs, arms, and your lower back as well. The machine needs to be used carefully, and very swift movements could defeat the purpose of this workout. With a rowing machine, resistance is what matters the most.
Technique: Your knees need to be bent as you grip the handle of the pulley. Make sure you’ve set the resistance level first. Next, you need to push the seat backward first, straighten your legs out, and then extend the pulley all the way. This has to be done just below the chest and on the waist. Then, slowly release the pulley and go back to the bent-knee position. Remember to not let go of the handle at any time.
- Triceps pull down
This machine works primarily with a cable, and handle and weights. It is a great way to tone and condition the triceps. To be able to do push ups, pull ups and other strengthening exercises, having strong triceps is a must.
Technique: You need to keep your feet together and not wide apart. Once you reach up and grip the handle, keep your entire tower arm close to your body. Pull down the to just below the chest level. Next, pull it all the way down, as low as you can go, and release back up but only till the waist again. The whole point of this machine is to make sure that only your forearm is in motion.
- Chest press
The chest press machine is one of the most effective ways to work your chest and arm muscles out. It mimics the movement of a push up essentially. Being a weighted machine, it’s a good way to put stress on the chest muscles and get rid of flab in the area.
Technique: Make sure you are comfortable and firmly seated. Firmly place your feet on the foot pads and then grip the handles. Now, push the handles forward and try to localize the strength from your upper arms or biceps. Also, remember to keep your back straight on the seat and not bend it forward at any point.
Simple precautions to keep in mind while using machines:
- If you’re a first-timer, don’t experiment. Make sure you ask a trainer for help.
- Watch a lot of videos to understand the technique properly.
- Start off with lesser weight for the first set and then slowly increase it with the next one.
- Don’t overdo it on just one machine and try to balance it out.
- Also, before using any machine, remember to check that it’s in good, working condition.