Free weights are great, but machines have their place too - especially for newbies. Learn how to make the machines your friends in the gym.
If you're a woman just starting out in the gym, you may be feeling intimidated. Not only is the array of machines overwhelming, but most gyms are replete with muscular men who look like they'll crush anything in their way - including you.
If this describes how you feel, you're not alone; many women can identify. But if you're willing to take a tiny step beyond your comfort barrier, you'll be on the road to some fantastic fitness progress.
Let's review some of the key points you need to know to design a machine workout that will get you started on a weightlifting regimen.
1. Kiss: Keep It Simple, Sister
First, keep your workout as simple as possible. Your objective at this point is to get the muscles used to the stress of the weight lifting stimulus and prepare yourself for more advanced programs.
Since you're new to the concept of weightlifting, your body will respond quickly to even basic exercises. So progress will happen quickly. Track these changes for motivation - it's called positive reinforcement!
Machine weight training is great because the apparatus helps you through the correct pattern of movement with no stress on your part. You won't have to worry about proper form as much as you would with free weights. Machine exercises will also help you get comfortable in the gym.
2. Focus On Form
At this stage, the goal is not to lift as much as possible. You don't need to be concerned with personal bests. For now, get comfortable and ensure you're performing each exercise correctly.
While the machine will guide you through proper form, there are still some things you need to be careful about.
One, make sure your back is pressed flat into the bench or back pad in machine exercises like the leg press, chest press and shoulder press. And two, don't hyperextend your knees or elbows as you do the shoulder press, horizontal chest press, horizontal row, triceps press-down or leg extension.
3. Don't Push Far Beyond Your Comfort Zone
Work hard, but not so hard that your comfort zone disappears and you want to quit. If you leave the gym feeling exhausted because you worked so hard, you may develop negative feelings toward working out.
Obviously, you should avoid feeling bad about working out. Instead of feeling exhausted, you should leave the gym feeling energized and excited about your next workout.
There's a difference between challenging yourself and pushing yourself to the limit. Save the extreme workouts for after you have a solid training base. Then knock yourself out.
4. Remember To Rest
Finally, rest enough to recover. This is a critical part to success with any training program, but some beginners tend to overlook it.
Leave at least one day between each of your full-body machine weightlifting sessions. If you're just starting out and know that you have a slower recovery system, rest for two days.
More rest beats not enough rest, so make sure you're fully recovered and feeling great each time you step in the gym.
As long as you get in at least two workouts per week, you will start seeing fitness improvements and more lean muscle mass. If you can do three sessions, excellent! But don't force yourself if you feel like you could use another day off.
On To The Programs
So now that you know the key components of what makes for a successful machine workout program, here are a few routines to follow.
You can either repeat one of them two to three times per week, or cycle among all three. Each workout will work every muscle group in your body while also help to boost your metabolic rate.
Grow comfortable with these machine-based exercises and when you're ready, you can move into the free weight section and expand your exercise repertoire!