Work the room: Tone up like a pro in the gym’s weight-lifting area

When used correctly, weight machines can help you lose fat, increase strength and tone muscle structure

Tarek Yacoub
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You’ve broken the ice and are now a regular gym-goer, but there is one section of your fitness playground you daren’t visit. You skirt the edges and avoid eye contact with its muscle bound regulars – the weights section.

The truth is that you don’t have to be a professional athlete or a bodybuilder to reap the benefits of training using weight machines and free weights. When done correctly, it can help you lose fat, increase strength and tone muscle structure whilst improving bone density.


Most training machines follow a set of principles. You can start off by selecting the resistance of your choice by either sliding a pin into a weight stack or loading some weight plates. Some also have push buttons to increase and decrease hydraulic or electronic resistance.

To correctly use the weight lifting machines and avoid injury, it is important you follow certain techniques.

Chin-up machine (Assisted)

Using the chin-up machine is an excellent exercise. Chin-ups work a number of muscles simultaneously: trapezius, deltoid, infraspinatus and triceps included. It’s preferred, by some, in contrast to your average chin-up because it’s not as tough on your lower back – there is lessened risk in twisting your hip tendons.

Incorporating assisted chin-ups in your training routine will help increase the size and formation of your upper back, enhancing the functional strength of your back and biceps.

Proper usage:

Step 1: Hands on the grip – the wider, the more you’re going to work the top portion of the upper-back, the closer the grips the more it will focus on muscles around the shoulder blade.

Step 2: Pull yourself upward with back arched and chest protruded.

Step 3: As you’re going down, extend your arms all the way – but don’t lock your arms.

Biceps Curl machine (Cable)

This machine works your upper arms with a precise, continuous motion hence it uses more of those muscle fibers, which is better for developing your overall strength.

Contrary to dumbbells, using cables induces constant strain on the muscles throughout the exercise.

Proper usage:

Step 1: Adjust the pulley on the machine so it’s close to the floor.

Step 2: Then curl the bar up toward your chest.

Step 3: Do a full extension – lowering the bar all the way down until the back of your hands almost touches your thighs. Then pull half way till your elbows are at a 90 degree angle.

Seated Leg Press machine

The leg press triggers more muscle fibers than the other isolated leg machines, unlike the seated leg machine. It targets your quads entirely (medialis, femoris and lateralis muscles).

Proper usage:

Step 1: Place your feet lower on the plate.

Step 2: Bring your knees all the way to your chest.

Step 3: Push back by extending your legs - but not fully – so much that you still feel tension in the quads.

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