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Lady demonstrating how to use a pec fly weight machine

How to Use Basic Weight Lifting Machines

By Julie Cobos, MS, CPT July 08, 2019 Posted in: Wellness

Today we will give you a short introduction on how to use weight equipment that is found in most fitness facilities. It is always a good idea to setup a free fitness assessment and equipment orientation that are offered at most fitness facilities. A few notes before beginning:

  • Before starting an exercise program, it is important to consult with your physician. 
  • Make sure that each machine is set up to your height before beginning the exercise to help with proper alignment.
  • Make sure that you are performing proper breathing during lifting - you should always exhale during the hardest part of the movement.
  • Avoid lowering the weight stack all the way down between each repetition making sure never to drop the weights.

Seated Leg Extension

The leg extension focuses on isolating the quadriceps. Position your legs under the pad and grasp the side bars with your hands. Extend your legs to the maximum range of motion, exhaling as you do this. Pause a second at the top, and then lower the weight back to the original position under control. Make sure the legs don't go past 90 degrees.

Seated Leg Curl

The seated leg curl works the hamstrings and the back of your legs. Sitting on the machine, place the lower legs on the pad. Secure the lap pad against your thighs and above your knees. Grasp the handles, and pull your heels towards the back of your legs, flexing at your knees. Keep your torso stationary at all times. Contract for a moment, and then slowly return to the starting position as you breathe.

Seated Leg Press

The seated leg press machine will help your quadriceps, or the front of your thighs. Sit down and place your feet about shoulder-width apart on the foot platform, making sure that you can see your toes. Press the weight up so that your knees are extended but not locked. Keeping your core engaged, lower the weight under control. 

Lat Pull Down

The lat pulldown works several muscles in the back and the arms. Adjust the seat to a comfortable position that allows you to keep your feet in contact with the floor and your thighs in contact with the pad. Grab the bars with an overhand grip, and pull your elbows down to the side to about shoulder height squeezing the shoulder blades together pause and then slowly return to the starting position. 

Shoulder Press

The shoulder press works mainly the shoulders. Sit down, engaging your core, and grab the handles. Press your arms to full extension without locking your elbows. Pause for a moment, and then return to the starting position. 

Chest Press

The chest press works the chest and the shoulders. Sit down on the machine ensuring the handles are at about chest height. Grab the handles, and press your arms to full extension making sure to not lock the elbows. Pause for a moment in full extension and return to the beginning position.

Bicep Curl Machine

The bicep curl machine works the biceps or the upper front part of our arm. Sit down and find the handles with an underhand grip. Engage your core while pulling your elbows from next to our side up to your shoulder. Pause at the top and then returning to the starting position with hands by your waist.

Glute Isolator

The glute isolator works the back of the legs, the glutes and the hamstrings. First adjust the machine to your proper height. Bring your heel to the pad and press the leg back avoiding full extension, but finding a comfortable range of motion. Pause for a moment and return to the starting position. 

Pectoral Fly

The pec fly machine works the front of our chest. Grab one handle at a time, pull them in front of you and towards the center. Then, take the arms back out to the sides, but avoid full extension of the shoulders. Repeat by squeezing the weights back together in front of the body.

Rear Delts

The rear delt machine works the back muscles. Sit down facing the machine finding the handles with an overhand grip. Pull the arms out to the sides and squeeze the shoulder blades together. Pause for a moment and returning to the starting position.

Good luck with your new weight lifting routine! If you need any additional support or would like to learn new equipment, please ask one of the Lakeside Wellness Fitness coaches.

Julie Cobos, MS, CPT
Julie Cobos, MS, CPT

Julie Cobos, MS, CPT is a Team Lead Member Services at Lakeside Wellness Center.

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