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Don’t waste time on useless exercise equipment: These gym machines offer an efficient workout

Exercise equipment 101: Work out on these 7 machines

Lat pulldown machine.
FitNish Media / Unsplash

For many gym newbies, knowing the right equipment can be a dilemma. If you fall into this category, chances are that you are probably using some workout equipment because they are available, not really because you understand what it helps to achieve.

This article centers around seven pieces of gym equipment that will help you work out efficiently. You will also learn about the muscle groups each piece of equipment targets, the recommended sets and reps, and why they are easy to use. 

In essence, this article could be an eye-opener for gym newbies or those who simply need a bit more guidance. It is time to dive in. 

Chest press machine.
RDNE Stock project / Pexels

Chest press machine

The chest press machine is a popular gym equipment that enhances the chest’s pectoralis major and minor muscles. It also works on the triceps, anterior deltoids, and latissimus dorsi, which promotes upper body strength.

It is a user-friendly machine even for beginners in the world of workouts. The controlled movement of this machine reduces injury risks and upholds proper form. 

The recommended sets and reps often differ, but the common practice is three sets of eight to 12 repetitions, where you can achieve muscle hypertrophy based on strength gains. 

Beginners should start without weight on the bench until their form is correct. The chest press machine is adaptable to various fitness abilities. It provides a controlled movement that increases focus on the workout, improving the appearance of external muscles and acquiring functional upper-body strength.

Man doing lat pull-downs.
Creative Family / Shutterstock

Lat pulldown machine

The lat pulldown machine is an excellent piece of gym equipment that targets the latissimus dorsi muscles, commonly called lats, and several upper back muscle groups. This back exercise involves pulling a bar with weights down towards the chest while seated and using your lats to power up this movement. Also, it trains the biceps together with rhomboids and trapezius muscles, contributing to upper body strength.

The recommended starting point for sets and reps is approximately two to three sets of 10 to 12  repetitions to generate maximum outcome. However, you can adjust it according to your level of fitness and needs. 

The machine is user-friendly to beginners as it provides a regulated and directed motion. The variable weight settings enable users to increase the resistance level gradually as strength builds up. Using lat pulldown as part of a workout improves your back appearance, promotes good posture, and contributes to upper body strength.

Tricep pressdown machine.
Samuel Girven / Unsplash

Tricep press down machine

A tricep press-down machine is a piece of equipment ideal for tricep workouts. It works with an emphasis on targeting muscles at the back portion of the upper arm. This apparatus can isolate the triceps, encouraging muscle building and toning. 

Appropriate for those training to improve arm strength and definition, the tricep press-down machine enables controlled motion that keeps the triceps active through each repetition.

When planning a comprehensive upper body workout, fitness experts usually recommend three sets in which you perform repetitions between 10 and 15. One of the areas where this machine stands out is its simplistic design, which allows users of different fitness levels to operate it effortlessly.

The system based on cables guarantees progressive resistance, limiting the possibility of trauma and enabling you to concentrate on muscle involvement. The tricep press-down machine is important for efficient tricep sculpting and strengthening.

Leg press machine.
RDNE Stock project / Pexels

Leg press

The leg press is also called the machine leg press, seated leg press, or machine squat press. The leg press machine works on the crucial lower body muscles, such as the quadriceps, hamstring, and glutes. It is a powerful strength-building device that exercises the calf and several stabilizer muscles.

Usually, fitness enthusiasts advise three to four sets of eight to 12 repetitions to promote muscle hypertrophy, while strength-oriented routines are used around a set of three to eight reps. Unlike free-weight squats, this machine stabilizes the body, making it easier to perform for beginners and reducing injuries. The controlled movement pattern guarantees coordinated muscle engagement; however, you should always ensure you maintain proper form.

Using the leg press as a part of a lower body workout plan leads to better strength and muscle development in your legs, which ultimately translates into improved athletic performance. Whether working for aesthetics or functional fitness, the leg press is an excellent addition to any complete workout routine.

Calf raise machine.
Wavebreakmedia / iStock

Calf raise machine

In strength training, the calf raise machine is one of the gym equipment pieces targeting the gastrocnemius and soleus muscles primarily positioned in the lower back part of the legs. This lower leg strength training exercise supports the development of the entire lower body. The suggested sets and reps differ, but standard practice is three to four sets of 10 to 15 repetitions.

The machine is user-friendly because of its simplicity — you place your shoulders or quads under pads, adjust the height, and lift weights by extending your ankles. The simplicity of use makes it easy for beginners as well as advanced lifters to use.

The controlled motion reduces the chances of injury and enables better targeting of muscles. Adding calf raises into a workout routine ensures muscle balance and stability and prevents injuries related to the lower limbs. The calf raise machine is an integral factor in a complete set of leg workout routines that promotes perfect development and appearance of the legs.

A male athlete doing leg extensions on a machine in a gym.
antoniodiaz / Shutterstock

Leg extensions

The leg extension is a single joint strength training exercise that primarily targets the quadriceps muscle of the thighs. The isolation movement includes knee extension against resistance using a leg extension machine.

Various sets and reps may be advised, but three to four sets of 10 to 15 reps is a great place to start. The equipment used for leg extensions is easy to use, making them suitable even for beginners who may not be familiar with the machine.

This quad exercise is also helpful in improving the overall stability of the lower body. On the other hand, one should maintain good form and not use excessive weight to prevent stress on the knee joint.

Man doing leg curls
Ground Picture / Shutterstock

Hamstring curls

Hamstring curls, also called leg curls, is a vital exercise targeting the muscles at the back of the thigh, specifically the hamstrings. This exercise mainly involves the biceps femoris, semitendinosus, and semimembranosus muscles that help to develop leg strength and stability. Aim for three to four sets of 12 to 15 reps with this exercise.

The simplicity and ease of the machine are among its major strengths as an exercise machine because people of different fitness levels can use it. Hamstring curls are useful for strengthening muscle tone, improving capacity in sports, and reducing the risk of injuries induced by existing imbalances between the muscles of the front and back sides of the legs.

Christine VanDoren
Christine is a certified personal trainer and nutritionist with an undergraduate degree from Missouri State University. Her…
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