The Only 6 Gym Machines You Need to Be Using
Looking around at all the different gym machines in your fitness facility is probably a recipe for overwhelm. Where should you start? Which machines work which body parts? How in the world do you use these various machines?!
That’s a normal response, and it’s okay. Not to worry. We’ve broken it down for you to the only gym machines you really need to be using for an effective workout at your gym.
First Things to Consider
Before trying out all the fancy gym machines, it’s important to consider a few things:
- What is your level of fitness?
- Are you a beginner, intermediate, or advanced weight lifter?
- Do you have any injuries?
- What are your personal fitness goals?
Once you have determined your goals, you can narrow down the machines that will be best for you and your personal needs.
Only 6 Gym Machines You Need to Be using
1. Lat Pulldown Machine
The lat pulldown machine should be a staple in any fitness program. It’s difficult to work the back muscles without some sort of machines or free weights. If you aren’t quite strong enough to do pull-ups on your own, this is the perfect machine for you to increase your abilities.
A lat pulldown machine also offers you the ability to use different grips and handle widths. There are many options that will work your back, rear shoulders, and even chest differently.
The pulling motion is also helpful for functional movements used in other sports and everyday activities.
2. Leg Press Machine
The leg press machine can come in many variations: single leg press option, different angles for the foot plate, different angles for the seat. Some machines hinge at the hip, some simulate more of a squat motion, some a hack squat motion. Some leg press machines will have weight stacks, so you can select the weight, and others may require you to load it with plates.
You can also change the placement of your feet on the foot plates to hit different areas of the legs. For example, placing your feet high on the pad will work more of the glutes and hamstrings while a lower placement of the feet will produce more force on the front of your legs, i.e., the quads.
You can also vary your stance from narrow to wide, depending on your goals. A wider stance will typically hit more of the glutes, and a narrower stance will usually target the quads more fully.
Why is this machine so great? It allows you to get the benefits of squatting without putting as much pressure on your knees, back, and neck as you might with regular free-form squats. You also have the safety of being able to “catch” the weight at the bottom of the repetition if necessary, and you can set the lower level accordingly.
3. Assisted Pull-Up and Dip Machine
Because pull-ups and dips tend to be too difficult for the average gymgoer, the assisted pull-up and dip machine can help you get stronger over time and build the muscles you need to help you do regular versions of these exercises.
You can adjust the amount of “help” you get by adjusting the weight that counteracts your own bodyweight. The more weight assistance you add, the easier the exercises will be for you to do.
This machine doubles as a pull-up assist and as a dip assist, so it’s a fantastic upper body trainer. It also allows you to get used to the mechanics of the exercises as you get stronger with practice and time. You can also try various hand and arm positions to see what works best for you and to hit different areas of your upper body.
4. Elliptical Machine
This beauty will have you working up a sweat in no time without any undue stress on your joints. Due to the circular elliptical motion of the pedals, there are no jarring “hard stops” for your joints and tendons to mitigate. This easy movement allows you to glide through your cardio workout while still working up quite a sweat. Many machines also offer moveable handles that increase your calorie burn. And, because this machine requires you to use so much leg power, it’s a fantastic way to tone your lower body while burning off tons of calories. That means you’ll lose weight and shape up at the same time without overtaxing your joints.
5. Cable Machine
This machine is pretty common at most fitness facilities and can offer you quite a variety of exercises and workout alternatives. You can work virtually every body part with an adjustable cable machine, including back, biceps, triceps, chest, legs, shoulders, and abs.
The trick is in the placement (height) of the cable. Most cable machines allow you to move the apparatus up or down to adjust for the needed angle and height you want for your current exercise. Also, there are many different types of handles to choose from that you can use to vary your workouts, including cables, bars of all shapes and widths, handles, and more.
6. Smith Machine
This machine offers a “guide” and a safety catch to assist you through any number of exercises. Not only can you do a plethora of leg exercises with this machine, you can also work the upper body and even abdominals as well. The machine consists of a bar that slides up and down on a track. You can latch the bar at many different intervals. This allows you to get used to a movement and get stronger before trying the exercises with free weights. It also lets you lift more weight than you would without the support of the machine, allowing for greater gains in strength and muscle mass over time.
You may be faced with dozens of different choices in the gym when it comes to machines and types of exercise. If you struggle with gymtimidation, you’re not alone. Fortunately, with just six options, you can enjoy an amazing workout.
Use this list as a good starting point to check off the types of equipment you want to see in a gym before committing to a membership. At the end of the day, your favorite gym machines might differ slightly from our list, but what’s important is that you find machines that mesh with your personal goals, fitness level, and any physical limitations you might have.