Machine weight exercises are a great option for a lot of people, especially if you:
• Are new to exercise
• Have an injury or mobility issue
• Are unsure how to perform exercises safely
• Have weak joints and stabilising muscles
Here are 4 of the best machines for upper body exercises, and how to use them in your routine.
Please note that all machines will be slightly different and they will have an instruction sticker on them which shows how to use them. Failing this, ask a professional and ensure you have a gym induction before using any of the machines. You do not want to hurt yourself.
1. Shoulder Press
The shoulder press machine will work on your shoulder muscles and also the triceps (back of the arms).
You will sit on the machine with your back against the backrest, squeeze your abs and push the handles upwards. Ensure not to extend your lower back off the seat. If you’re doing this, the weight is probably too heavy for you.
This is an exercise you can use a moderate weight for 10 to 20 reps.
2. Chest Press
The chest press will be one of your strongest positions. Some machines are seated, while others are laying, but how to use them is roughly the same.
You want to pull your shoulder blades back and together, to create a stable base to press from. Control the weight down, getting a stretch at the bottom and then breath out as you press the weights out.
This machine will work on your chest muscles, and the triceps (back of your arms). It’s best to use a moderate to heavy weight for 8 to 16 reps.
3. Seated Row
The seated row is a great exercise for strengthening the back muscles and improving posture. The muscles of the mid back are very important for posture and health, but are often neglected by exercise plans.
On the seated row you will sit facing the machine, with your chest resting against a pad. Breath in and pull your elbows back, whilst also pulling the shoulder blades back. You want to think of moving the elbows and shoulders backwards.
Try not to focus on moving the weight with your hands, because this uses too much of your arms and not your back. To get the most effective workout, do moderate to high reps with a slow tempo and hold each rep at the back, pinching the shoulder blades together.
4. Lat Pull Down
The lat pull down is an upper back exercise that will also shape your shoulders and arms. It’s good for improving overall upper body strength and posture.
Sit with your knees under the pad and hold the bar, breathe in and pull the bar down to your upper chest. The whole movement should be controlled, without swinging your body. If you are doing this, the weight is too heavy.
Focus on pulling the elbows down to the rib cage, pinch and hold the shoulder blades down and back, and maintain control on the way up. This is best performed for moderate to high reps.