Weight machines at the gym help you to achieve strength-training goals. Healthy adults should perform at least eight to 12 repetitions of 10 different strength-training exercises twice a week, as recommended by the American College of Sports Medicine. If you are a beginner, schedule time with a fitness or personal trainer who can show you how to use the machines properly.
Set the Weights Correctly
For optimum benefits and safety, select a weight that you can lift for one set, which is eight to 15 repetitions. The first few repetitions should require moderate exertion; the last two repetitions should require considerably more. If you complete the set easily, switch to a heavier weight and try a second set or add more weight at the next workout. If your body starts shaking after a few repetitions, reduce the weight and try again. Increase repetitions, sets and weight gradually as your strength increases.
Work on Technique
Learn the proper technique for each machine before you use it. Sit or stand with a straight back when lifting. Do not hold your breath while lifting weights, as it elevates blood pressure and can cause fainting. Exhale during the exertion portion of the exercise. Target the same muscle groups a maximum of three times a week. Write down the name of the machine, the amount of weight you use and the number of sets and repetitions on a workout log card to track your progress.
Routine for Beginners
Beginners can perform this 30- to 60-minute, gym-machine workout at least two times, but no more than four times, weekly for six to eight weeks. Complete one to three sets of 12 repetitions for each exercise. Start with the leg press, followed by the chest press and seated row machine. Move on to the shoulder press, lat pulldown and leg-curl machines, followed by the leg extension and chest-fly machines. Find the cable stack to perform triceps pushdowns and biceps curls. Finish with the ab crunch machine.
Routine for Women
Women can target common problem areas with a gym weight-machine workout. Perform biceps curls on the cable tower; advanced moves include doing singlehanded curls or standing on one foot. Switch to the lat machine for pulldowns; a narrow grip targets your arms, and a wider grip targets your latissimus dorsi. Exercise your buttocks and thighs on the leg press; perform leg-press exercises, with your legs apart and feet rotated 45 degrees outward, to target inner thighs. The Smith machine, which can also be set up as a bench press, tones your pectoral and triceps muscles; setting the bench at an incline targets your upper chest. Finish with the shoulder press; switch hand positions to activate smaller "helper" muscles.