The Only 7 Gym Machines Worth Using

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.

“Beginners can start with an under grasp (palms facing you), which uses more biceps and tends to be a little easier,” Munro says.

You can also bring your hands closer together or spread them farther apart (so your arms make a V shape) to make the move more challenging.

3. Cable biceps bar

What you’re working: Biceps

Why it’s worth it: “These are great for avoiding the swinging that happens with dumbbells,” if you not training with personal Trainer may be easy to lose the form of the correct exercise.

As with all these movements, you’ll get the most out of it when you slowly raise and lower the weight. The cable here helps force you to do that.

4. Cable triceps bar (or triceps pushdown)

What you’re working: Triceps

Why it’s worth it: As with the lat pulldown or the cable biceps bar

Building strong triceps is über-important for pushups and pullups and for maintaining balanced strength in your arms.

5. Chest press

What you’re working: Chest, biceps, triceps

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.

6. Hanging leg raise

What you’re working: Core, hip flexors

Why it’s worth it: “This is easy to operate and a great way to work your abs by propping up on your forearms and simply lifting — not swinging — your legs up,

7. Cardio: Rowing machine

What you’re working: Total body, particularly the posterior chain, and building cardio endurance

Why it’s worth it: While there’s nothing wrong with a treadmill, the rowing machine can be a great way to change things up.

“It’s got the upper-body and lower-body aspect of resistance training and will help balance the whole hunch-forward-from-sitting-at-computers,”


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