Machines at the gym can be a bit scary at first. After all, until you know what they actually do, resistance training machines just look like complicated, giant steel contraptions. Women can really benefit from resistance training, and the machines at the gym are your friends. Today’s resistance training machines are safer and more effective than ever. It’s just a matter of giving them a try.
Keep it Simple
As a beginner, you don’t need a complicated workout plan that will eventually just get your frustrated and ready to quit. Instead, keep it simple. Use the resistance training machines that target multiple muscle groups at once. This will help save time, maximize the effectiveness of the workout and help keep the exercise routine simple.
Adult women should lift weights at least twice per week, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Two workouts per week is a good starting point. Schedule your workout days at least two days apart, so your body has enough time to recover between workouts. Each workout should span 30 to 45 minutes. Lifting weights too long can actually do harm to your muscle tissue, so avoid going longer than 45 minutes.
Exercise your major muscle groups once per week to start. The CDC lists the major muscles groups as: legs, hips, chest, shoulders, abs, back and arms. An effective workout plan is to work half of these muscles during your first weekly workout and the rest during the second workout of the week. Here’s a sample workout plan: Monday – chest, back, hips, abs; Thursday – legs, shoulders, arms.
Some effective upper-body resistance training machines include: Bicep curl machine, triceps pullovers, lat pulldowns, shoulder press machine, ab machine/exercise ball crunches and seated rowing machine. You can target your lower-body muscles using these machines: squat machine, Smith machine squats, leg press, calf raises, leg curls and reverse leg curls. Be sure to consult a gym staff member or personal trainer if you’re unsure how a machine works.
Weight, Repetitions and Sets
Aim for 10 to 12 repetitions per set. Targeting each major muscle group with three or four sets is ideal for strengthening and toning. You want to use enough weight on each machine so that it gets a bit difficult to lift by rep number eight or nine. As you become more comfortable with the workout and your strength begins to increase over a period weeks, you can begin increasing the weight slightly and/or increasing the number of sets you do for each muscle group.
Joseph Eitel has written for a variety of respected online publications since 2006 including the Developer Shed Network and Huddle.net. He has dedicated his life to researching and writing about diet, nutrition and exercise. Eitel's health blog, PromoteHealth.info, has become an authority in the healthy-living niche. He graduated with honors from Kellogg Community College in 2010 with an Associate of Applied Science.