Exercise machines are easier to use once you understand the names often reflect the equipment function. Most have names with words like "press," "curl" and "pull." Others describe the position you need to be in to perform an exercise, or they identify the muscle group the machine works.
The bench press exercises the chest or pectoral muscles. It also works the triceps or small muscles in the upper back of the arm and shoulders. Bench machines come in many forms. You may find a seated bench press where you can sit upright, or a supine bench press, which means you use it face-up. The decline places your feet in a position higher than your head. The incline bench has you sitting at a slight angle facing upright so you can work the upper and lower pectoral muscles.
This machine provides many of the same benefits a traditional squat might, but this one doesn't demand you hold a barbell across your back. That's a safety risk since it places unnecessary pressure on your spine. Novice users may find the machine easier to use and safer than traditional squats because there's less room for error. It also allows you to perform squats using more of the quadriceps or muscles in the front of the leg. Traditional squats engage more of the hamstrings, glutes and quadriceps.
The lat pull-down works the latissimus dorsi muscles, which run along the side of the back. You have to pull the bar down in front of your head to your collarbone, and not in back of your head. That could bring on shoulder impingement syndrome.
Seated Hip Abductor
The Hip Abductor works the thighs and glutes without placing pressure on the spine. You can also perform it while standing. You have to loop a resistance band around both legs below the knees, then take small steps. Go to the left 20 feet, and then side-step back to the right for 20 feet.
Hyper Extension Bench
This bench works the lower back, hamstrings and glutes. You can also do sit-ups on it to work your abdominals. To increase resistance, you can hold a weight in your arms or hands while performing on the bench.
Leg Press Machine
The leg press machine is set at a 45 degree angle. It allows you to lift weights at a healthy and safe level without having to worry about them falling on you. It also places less stress on your back and knees than you'd have with traditional barbell or free weights. You can use the leg press for both legs or one leg at a time.
The leg extension is good for isolating and strengthening the quadriceps muscles. It's a safe and effective machine to warm up the knee joints before you move on to challenging exercises such as the leg press or squat machines.
Many machines work several muscles like the hamstrings, quadriceps, calves and glutes. The leg curl machine is what you want if you're isolating the hamstring muscles. Some gyms combine the leg press and leg curl. You can also warm up the hamstrings using a leg curl machine before moving on to more challenging exercises.