Show off your weight room savvy by incorporating both free weights and machines into your strength-training routine. When set correctly for your body, machines guide your joints and muscles through the proper range of motion for an exercise. Free weights require balance and stability, which means you are working multiple muscles and burning more calories. For a trim and toned physique, include machines and free weights in your workout program.
Supersets are an effective way to combine free weights and machines while maximizing your results. A superset includes two back-to-back exercises without rest between movements. Start each of your supersets on a machine and move quickly to a free-weight exercise. Complete eight to 12 repetitions of each movement and one to three sets.
Lat Pulldown and Barbell Chest Press
A lat pulldown trains your back and biceps, and a barbell chest press tones your chest and triceps. Select an appropriate resistance before sitting at the lat pulldown machine. Take a wide, palms-down grip on the overhead bar and anchor your thighs under the leg pads. Bend your elbows to 90 degrees as you pull the bar toward your chest by contracting your back and biceps. Release the contraction to return the bar to its starting position. Complete all repetitions before transitioning to a barbell chest press. Lie on a bench holding a barbell in your hands, palms down, with your arms extended in front of you. Bend your elbows to 90 degrees as you lower the barbell toward your chest. At the bottom of the movement press through your palms while contracting your chest to raise the barbell back toward the ceiling.
Leg Curl and Dumbbell Squat
Leg curls sculpt your hamstrings and dumbbell squats target your thighs and glutes. Sit on a leg curl machine with your legs extended on the foot pad and your thighs anchored under the leg pad. Choose a challenging resistance level and grasp the handles for stability. Contract your hamstrings as you curl the foot pad toward your glutes by bending your knees. Release the contraction to extend your legs to their starting position. After you finish all leg curl repetitions, stand holding two moderately heavy dumbbells at your sides with your palms facing in. Lower into a squat by hinging your hips backward as you bend your knees to 90 degrees. Press into your heels and drive your hips forward to return to standing. Keep your chest lifted, your core engaged and the dumbbells at your sides throughout the movement.
Back Extension and Dumbbell V-Up
Back extensions work your lower back, and dumbbell V-ups sculpt your abdominals. Select a manageable weight on the back extension machine. Sit with your feet placed in the foothold and your upper back resting against the back pad. If available, clasp the machine's seat belt around your hips. Contract your core and lower back as you press into the back pad, extending your upper body backward. Reverse the movement to return to your starting position. Complete your workout with dumbbell V-ups. Lie face up on a mat holding a single dumbbell between both hands. Contract your abdominals to lift your upper body off the floor as you extend your right leg toward the ceiling. Reach the dumbbell toward your right toe at the fully contracted position. Return your upper body and right leg to the ground then repeat the V-up with your left leg.
Amanda McVey has been teaching fitness and personal training since 2008 in the San Francisco, New York City and Seattle markets. She is an ACSM certified personal trainer, AFAA certified group fitness instructor and UGI master trainer. McVey has many credits to her education including indoor cycling, pre- and postnatal, TRX, rip training, and trigger point therapy.