Maybe you want bulging biceps or you just want to be able to lift a bag of groceries without help. Whatever your goals, you should be doing some strength training exercises. Don't worry that you are going to start looking like a professional bodybuilder--strength training on machines two to three times each week will build muscle without bulking you up. Don't be intimidated by all the complicated looking exercise machines at the gym. You'll be using them like an expert after just a few minutes of training!
Why Strength Train?
Strength training on exercise machines offers numerous health advantages besides the obvious ones that involve muscle and strength building. Your body will burn more fat as you build more muscle. Muscle helps burn fat and keeps fat off. For every pound of muscle you gain, you will lose more than 2 pounds of fat and burn up to 50 more calories per day just doing every day activities. The extra strength you gain by strength training on machines will make it easier for you do to those daily activities, too. The resistance provided by weight machines also helps to strengthen your bones. As you become more fit and stronger by using weight machines, you will reduce your risk of developing a number of diseases, including osteoporosis, heart disease and diabetes.
The Smith machine is a whole body strength training machine. A Smith machine, named for its designer, works by way of a system of cables and locks that prevent the weight from falling on you. You lift a barbell and you control the amount of weight and resistance. You can do bench presses for your chest and arms. You can also do lunges and squats for your abs, legs and buttocks. Just stand in the middle of the machine with the barbell across the back of your shoulders, spread your feet about hip-width for stability and then lift the weight bar off the support pegs to begin lifting.
A bench press machine can do wonders for your chest! Build the pectoral muscles behind your breasts for a fuller-appearing and more toned chest. Start slowly by adding only about 5 pounds of weight and gradually add weight as your arms, chest and abs get stronger. This machine is easy to use. Simply sit down on the comfortable seat and grab the handles. Keep your feet on the floor to stabilize your body and press the bars out and away from your body. Push it smoothly with strength. Do as many repetitions as you can before you give out.
Seated Leg Press
If you want to focus on developing strong, muscular, toned legs, then the seated leg press is for you. The seated leg press also tones your butt and lower abs and strengthens your hips. Sit on the machine and put your feet flat on the resistance plates. Grab the handles and push the plates away from your body by straightening your legs, but don't lock your knees. Relax and slowly allow the plates to come back toward your body until your knees are bent and then do it again. Spread your feet wider apart on the plates to really work your butt and lower abs.
Robin Reichert is a certified nutrition consultant, certified personal trainer and professional writer. She has been studying health and fitness issues for more than 10 years. She holds a Bachelor of Arts in psychology from the University of San Francisco and a Master of Science in natural health from Clayton College.