Updated: Nov 5, 2019
Despite the fact that free weights and bodyweight exercises might win the gym popularity contest right now, fitness pros agree: Not only are exercise machines totally fine to use, they might be especially helpful if you’re new to working out.
When you’re getting started, using selectorized equipment (the machines with weighted plates) and just learning the movement pattern is OK.
Another bonus: “If you haven’t got full strength or balance or full range of motion, machines are much safer,”
For those who have been on a gym hiatus or are gaining back strength post-injury, weight machines are an easy way to get back in the game — without the risk of dropping anything heavy on your foot.
And, as you’ve likely noticed, weight machines remove the guesswork since they usually have helpful how-to cards right on them in the mostly healthy clubs.
1. Horizontal seated leg press
What you’re working: Quads, glutes, hamstrings, calves
Why it’s worth it: This was their go-to lower-body machine. “If people use this with correct technique, it can help you move toward squats off the machine,”
2. Lat pulldown
What you’re working: Latissimus dorsi (“broadest muscle of the back”), shoulder girdle
Why it’s worth it: If you’re interested in ever doing a pullup, this is a great place to start. You’ll build your back muscles and start activating the entire posterior chain.
Why it’s worth it: “The chest press machine is a similar motion to a push. If you’re new to working out, building up your chest, your biceps, and even your triceps will be helpful for more compound movements later on.