How to Use Machines at the Gym Other Than the Elliptical

If you’re like many of us collegiettes, working out is probably an important part of your week. But if you have a regular date with the elliptical and the other machines at the gym look more like Transformers than workout equipment, it’s time to revamp your workout!
Curious about everything else the gym offers but overwhelmed by the army of ironclad machines next to the all-too-familiar treadmill? Fear no more -- HC did the work for you and demystified the contraptions that you’re most likely to see.
Lat Pull-down

Works: Lats, biceps
This machine will help define your biceps and firm up your arms!

Start by gripping the bar with one hand on each side, palms facing forward. Keeping your arms straight, abs engaged and chest lifted, pull the bar down towards your chest. Try to use your arm muscles as little as possible, therefore working your lats — you should feel it in your back. Hold for 1 count, then slowly return to the starting position as you complete one rep. You should complete three sets of 8 to 10 reps.
Leg Press

Works: Quads, glutes
Think of the leg press as a “do-it-all” machine for amazing legs. Bonus: it’ll work your butt too!

Sit back and place your feet on the plate. Slowly push your legs out until your knees are just slightly bent-don’t straighten them all the way. Then lower the weight, bringing knees back towards your chest — that’s one rep. Do three sets of 8 to 10 reps.
Ab Bench

Works: Abdominals
This versatile platform allows you to perform several variations of ab exercises, working different muscles to sculpt your core.

Sit with your legs tucked underneath the rollers, as shown. Place hands behind your head, keeping your shoulders and neck in a straight line. Slowly lean back until your shoulders are just a few inches from the bench. Keeping abs engaged, lift yourself back up (this should resemble a basic sit-up motion). In order to really work your abs, be careful not to lean forward with your head as you sit up. For a full workout, do five sets of ten reps.

Leg Curl Machine

Works: Hamstrings
This machine will tighten your hamstrings and help shape your legs!

Start by sitting on the machine with your legs under the pad and your feet pointed forward. Using your hamstrings, extend your legs upward as you exhale. Keep the rest of your body stationary on the seat. Hold for a second, then slowly lower the weight back to its original position as you inhale to finish one rep. Complete three sets of 8 to 10 reps.

Pec Deck

Works: Pectorals, deltoids
The pec deck is often thought of as a guys-only machine. But don’t overlook its ability to strengthen your arms and tighten up your chest!

Sit with your back pressed against the chair. Squeeze your forearms and elbows together as you draw the grip bars toward each other. (Try to almost touch them together at the peak of the exercise.) Engage your chest muscles during the movement by pressing with your elbows. Return to the starting position to complete a rep. Do at least two sets of ten reps.

Dani Wong is a sophomore at the University of San Francisco, where she is double majoring in media studies and journalism. After her short story was published in a recent book, she decided to explore a new facet of writing and became involved with student newspapers and magazines. Between interning, taking classes, and exploring San Francisco, Dani is embracing the new opportunities that city life brings. Her true loves include traveling, taking photographs, playing sports and anything food related!

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