How to Use Gym Machines

Written by michelle inglesby
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How to Use Gym Machines
Always follow gym machine instructions for proper use. (Man exercising shoulders in the gym image by Elzbieta Sekowska from

Knowing how to use gym machines can keep you from getting an injury, but it also helps you to work out the right muscles with the right amount of weight or resistance. Typically, at a fitness centre or health club, each muscle has its own gym machine. Even if you are visiting a gym with staff on hand to show you how to work the equipment, it is still important to have an overview yourself.

Skill level:

Things you need

  • Exercise clothing
  • Sneakers
  • Gym membership
  • Water or sports drink

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  1. 1

    Select which muscles you plan to work out and find the different machines that work those muscles. A fitness instructor or gym staff person can help you locate the machines you want to use for specific muscles. For example, if you want to work your quadriceps--front thigh muscles--you will use a leg press or a leg extension machine.

  2. 2

    Adjust the machine to fit your height, by pulling the levers. Machines can change position to fit your height and leg length. When trying to adjust the machine to fit your body, make sure the appropriate parts of your body are situated in the right areas, for example on the chest press, you'll want the press where your hands fit to be right at chest level.

  3. 3

    Choose the appropriate weight setting. You'll do this by choosing one weight and doing a few reps with the machine. If it is too easy, increase the weight. If it is too hard, decrease the weight. You don't want to overwork your muscles. You should be able to do three sets of at least 12 reps and feel your muscles working, but not painfully so.

  4. 4

    Complete at least three sets of 12 reps on each machine you've chosen to use. Reps should be done slowly and steady, using correct form. Doing them fast you won't work the muscles as well. Each gym machine should have a picture of correct form and the motion to use.

  5. 5

    Follow gym rules about cleaning equipment or resetting weights and seat adjustment.

Tips and warnings

  • Check with the staff at the gym about using the equipment. Some gyms require an initial training session before members can use the machines.
  • If your gym offers personal training sessions, you may want to take advantage of at least one to learn which machines are best for you to use and the weights, sets and reps that will gain you the best results.
  • Seek the assistance of a gym staff member prior to using the machines in case they have specific directions for gym members.

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