Weight lifting machines are a type of customizable workout equipment that help users maintain correct posture and form while working a specific muscle group. There are dozens of different types of weight lifting machines for nearly every part of the body. Using weight machines as part of an exercise plan can be a good way to improve muscle tone and fitness level.
Core weight lifting machines target the abdominal and pectoral muscles as well as the back. In a chest press machine, the user lies on his or her back, grabbing handles that are slightly above and away from the body, and pushing up until arms are almost straight above the body. While this machine can also be done with free weights, using a weight lifting machine makes sure that the correct muscles are used and that the weight is distributed evenly across the chest.
To work the back, many people use weighted rowing machines, which mimic the movement of rowing. Some models are stationary, but others have a sliding seat that increases the range of motion. The handles of rowing machines are generally attached to a weight stack that can be adjusted to increase or decrease resistance. Sliding rowing machines have the advantage of also being used for cardiovascular workouts.
Arm-related weight lifting machines may target the shoulders, biceps, triceps, and forearms. Some of these machines may be combined with chest or back exercises to provide a more comprehensive move. In a shoulder press machine, the user is seated with handles at shoulder level. Pushing upward on the handles, the user tries to straighten the arms over the head, then lower the arms while resisting the weight.
Tricep and bicep press machines may look nearly identical at first glance, but actually focus on different muscles. Both may have a padded seat below a triangular or angled cushion, but the placement of the handles and the direction of movement set these machines apart. In a bicep press, the user starts with arms extended and bends them up toward the body, gripping the handle. For a tricep press, the elbows are bent at the beginning and arms are pushed down to a straight, extended position.
Weight lifting machines for legs often have much higher weight stacks, since the legs are usually the strongest part of the body. One slightly intimidating machine common in commercial gyms is for the gluteus muscles. This machine requires the user to lay face down with hips at the top of a triangular pad, arms gripping handles and resting on a lower pad, and calves pressing underneath a movable weight arm. The exercise is performed by pushing calves up in an attempt to curl legs up toward the glutes. Though it may look silly, this is a great exercise for a muscle group that is difficult to isolate.