If you’re new to a gym, you may have trouble knowing how to use gym exercise machines. They can look very complicated and intimidating, but this is no reason to miss out on an excellent workout routine.
- Use light weights. When learning to use gym exercise machines, many beginners want to work out with heavier weights to try to get the most out of their workouts. This is called “going heavy” in workout lingo. The problem with this is that it’s not only unsafe for beginners but it also makes the task of using gym exercise machines even harder. Always make sure to put the pin in the weight stack at a lighter weight; failure to check the weights before you seat yourself in a machine can result in accidentally lifting a heavier weight than you’re prepared for if the user before you required a more substantial weight. To test if a weight is light enough to avoid injury but heavy enough to challenge you, choose a lighter weight and attempt ten repetitions. If you can make it to ten easily, try the next heaviest weight. Repeat this process until ten reps are a challenge, then you’ll have the right weight for you.
- Adjust the seat size. Some gym exercise machines have seats for you to sit in. If you look underneath the seat, you will probably find a lever that allows you to adjust it. A good rule of thumb is to adjust the seat so that when you sit down your thighs are parallel to the floor and your feet are flat on the ground. This ensures that your legs can support your body throughout the exercise. If the machine requires a different seat height, the instructions on the machine itself will indicate this.
- Use slow movements. Any time you’re in a gym, you’ll see people lifting weights on the exercise machines like they’re in a hurry to complete their workouts. Not only is this unsafe, but it can also undercut your workout by forcing you to compromise proper form and tempo. Make sure your back is always straight throughout the exercise. A good way to keep good form is to perform each movement with a 2-1-3-1 tempo. Take two seconds to perform the lift movement, pause for one second in that position, take three seconds to finish the movement, and pause for one second before starting the movement over again. By keeping the exercise slow you will maintain a greater control over your form and will get more out of the exercise.
- Read the instructions. Nearly all gym exercise machines have printed instructions somewhere on the machine. Most of them can be read easily once you have been seated. This helps you to be able to check your form against the instructions whenever you need. Most instructions also have diagrams to complement the text. This allows you to see what the movements should look like and enables you to better duplicate them.
- Ask the gym personnel. If push comes to shove, and you find yourself on a gym exercise machine that doesn’t include printed instructions, feel free to approach an employee and ask her to demonstrate the machine for you. The staff has been trained on the various machines in the gym. Let their know-how help you to get the workout you desire.
Using gym exercise machines for a great workout doesn’t have to be a chore. By following these few simple guidelines, you’ll be on your way to getting in a good workout and becoming an expert in the gym in no time.