Multi-gyms, also known as universal machines or home gyms, are versatile exercise options that don’t restrict you to only bodybuilding. Using less resistance and performing faster reps, you can use these machines to get an effective toning workout. Familiarizing yourself with how a multi-gym works will help you take advantage of all of its benefits.
Read the directions that come with the machine to learn how to use mechanics safely, effectively and quickly. This will help during circuit-training workouts. Read the sections on troubleshooting and exercise suggestions before you begin using the machine. Download a copy of the owner’s manual from an Internet site if you don’t have a copy. Type the brand name and model number into a search engine, along with the phrases, “user’s guide,” and “owner’s manual.”
Walk around the machine and look at its various components. Learn how to change the weight or resistance settings. Move the bench or chair if it’s adjustable and perform a few reps of each exercise you plan to do during your workouts, using little or no resistance.
Warm up without using the machine by performing dynamic movements to get blood flowing to your muscles. Do a wide variety of arm, leg and core movements such as jumping jacks, butt kicks and arm circles and swings. Warm up for several minutes until you are breathing hard.
Perform cardio routines using light resistance to prevent muscle fatigue that would cause you to take long breaks. Use only enough resistance for each exercise so you can perform quick repetitions for up to 60 to 90 seconds before you have to stop. The amount of resistance you use should cause your heart rate and breathing to rise to the same level as when you jog. Take a short break between each exercise and alternate upper-body, core and lower-body exercises to prevent muscle fatigue. Perform several minutes or more of rowing while sitting, kneeling or lying if the multi-gym comes with a moveable bench and cables.
Use more resistance, perform fewer repetitions and perform your reps slowly if you want to build muscles. Use enough weight that your muscles will be sore after you perform eight to 12 reps. Perform the exercises slowly, using muscular effort to resist the machine as it tries to return to your starting position. For example, if you lift cables around your shoulders, don’t let the machine pull the cables back -- return them slowly to your starting position. Alternate body areas with each exercise to let your muscles recover.
Finish your workout with several minutes of cooling down by walking around the room or in place. Raise and lower your arms occasionally. Stretch thoroughly after your breathing has returned to normal.
Sam Ashe-Edmunds has been writing and lecturing for decades. He has worked in the corporate and nonprofit arenas as a C-Suite executive, serving on several nonprofit boards. He is an internationally traveled sport science writer and lecturer. He has been published in print publications such as Entrepreneur, Tennis, SI for Kids, Chicago Tribune, Sacramento Bee, and on websites such Smart-Healthy-Living.net, SmartyCents and Youthletic. Edmunds has a bachelor's degree in journalism.