Gym Machine Workout
Looking for extra support and guidance during strength training? Try these seated, beginner-friendly gym machines.
One of the best parts of fitness is there are typically many different ways you can perform a given exercise. Rows, for example, are a terrific exercise for the upper back. You can do them seated on the floor with a resistance band or standing up with dumbbells.
But what if getting on the floor is a no-go? Or if standing rows cause pain in your lower back? No problem. You have another great option: the row machine.
Often overlooked, gym machines offer a few key advantages:
- Many machines are seated so you’ll have extra support. You don’t have to get on the floor or stand on your feet.
- Most machines guide you through the basic movement pattern of an exercise. All you have to do is set up your machine and move along a predetermined path.
- Machines add variety to your fitness program. Using a range of equipment will work your body and brain in different ways.
Ready to give them a try? This seated, beginner-friendly gym machine workout is a good place to start.
Build strength and endurance with a SilverSneakers Circuit class! This workout combines upper-body strength work with low-impact cardio to maximize fitness benefits. It’s offered both in-person at participating fitness locations and online with SilverSneakers LIVE.
How the Gym Machine Workout Works
You’ll need a variety of gym machines. If you don’t have access to a particular machine, simply use the ones that are available to you, or try one of the suggested alternatives. You may also want a towel to wipe down machines after use.
Warm up with at least five minutes of walking or the warmup exercises from this 20-minute cardio follow-along workout. Perform each exercise for one round, and aim to do three rounds total. Cool down with deep breathing and stretches of your choice.
As always, safety is key. The exercises here may be different or more advanced than those you’ll experience in a SilverSneakers class. If you have a chronic condition, an injury, or balance issues, talk to your doctor about how you can exercise safely.
Set Yourself Up for Success
Before you start moving on any machine, set it up properly. Just like you wouldn’t start driving a car without checking the seat and mirrors, you don’t want to use a machine that’s not set up for you. Use these tips to get it right.
If you’re using a machine for the first time, ask gym staff for instructions, or read the instructions that are typically posted on each machine. Equipment can vary from model to model, so you want to know how the version in front of you works.
Always choose a lighter weight to start. The general rule for all types of strength training: Start light before going heavy.
Check your machine settings. You want to make sure the machine is set for you—and not the person who used the machine before you. Is the right amount of weight selected, and if there’s a pin, is it fully inserted? How’s your seat positioning?
Let the machine support and guide you—not do the work for you. As with any exercise, you’ll get better results with good posture and good form. Engage your whole body, and move with control.
Exercise #1: Leg Extension
Do 15 reps
Straighten your legs. Pause, and lower them to starting position. Do 15 reps, resting as needed.
If you have bad hips or knees, you may want to try a seated leg extension without any weight or a squat that works for your body.
Exercise #2: Shoulder Press
Do 15 reps
Squeezing your upper back, press your arms up. Pause, and lower them to starting position. Do 15 reps, resting as needed.
The shoulder press machine can help you master the same movement you’ll need for the dumbbell shoulder press.
Exercise #3: Leg Curl
Do 15 reps
Bend your knees to pull your heels down. Pause, and straighten them to starting position. Do 15 reps, resting as needed.
If you don’t have a leg curl machine available and can get down on the floor, you can do a leg curl with a dumbbell. Otherwise, squats and related exercises like sit-to-stands are good substitutes.
Exercise #4: Chest Press
Do 15 reps
Keeping your back against the pad, press your arms forward. Pause, and bend them to starting position. Do 15 reps, resting as needed.
The chest press machine can help you perfect your form for the dumbbell chest press.
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Exercise 5: Mid Row
Do 15 reps
Squeezing your shoulder blades together, bend your elbows to pull the bar toward you. Pause, and straighten them to starting position. Do 15 reps, resting as needed.
No row machine? Grab a resistance band, and do a seated row in a chair. If your lower back is healthy, you can also do a bent-over row with dumbbells.
Exercise #6: Biceps Curl
Do 15 reps
Keeping your elbows tucked to your sides, bend your elbows to curl the handles toward your shoulders. Pause, and straighten them to starting position. Do 15 reps, resting as needed.
The biceps curl machine can help you prepare for a seated curl with dumbbells or a standing biceps curl with a resistance band.
Exercise #7: Lat Pulldown
Do 15 reps
If it’s comfortable, set up with your palms facing you. Squeezing your shoulder blades together, bend your elbows to pull the bar down in front of you. Pause, and straighten them to starting position. Do 15 reps, resting as needed.
The lat pulldown machine can help you progress to a standing lat pulldown with a resistance band.
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