6 Reasons To Stop Avoiding Weight Machines

Beyond the jungle of treadmills, ellipticals, stair climbers and bikes is another maze of machines: contraptions with weights or cables or weights and cables. If you don't know what you're doing, we don't blame you for speed walking right past that equipment for another 45 minutes on the cardio machines.

That's why we called on Ali Gritz, the assistant fitness manager at Crunch Gyms, to talk us through the best of the weight lifting machines. "A lot of woman are scared of the machines because they don't want to get too big, muscularly," she says. "But the reality is that creating lean muscle mass helps you get rid of body fat. Too many women do cardio for too long at an intensity that's too low — that's where weight lifting can actually help you." And, realistically, you'll never produce enough testosterone to get really jacked, anyway. So, go ahead. Follow Gritz's tips below, and we bet people will be asking you for how-tos.

Cable Rowing Machine

Start with feet up on the footrests. Keeping the body straight, pull cable into chest by bringing shoulder blades together behind you. "Make sure to drop the shoulders away from the ears and keep chest lifted," says Gritz. Easy-breezy — and a great way to make up for what sitting at a desk all day does to your body. To challenge yourself, "Move your feet to the floor to better engage your core," she adds.

Chest Fly Machine

Start with arms out to the side and a medicine ball under feet. Exhale and bring hands together in front of the chest, keeping your chest lifted and your shoulders away from your ears. "These machines are built for bigger people, so if your feet dangle, the medicine ball is an easy fix to keep you in alignment and work your core," says Gritz. "You can also stack dumbbells for a solid base if you don't have a medicine ball nearby."

Lat Pulldown Machine

Start holding the bar with hands shoulder width apart and palms facing away from you. Pull the bar down to the chest and squeeze your shoulder blades together behind you. "You should feel the pinch between your shoulder blades," says Gritz. "It's also really important to keep your shoulders lowered during this exercise."

Leg Press Machine

Start by lying down on the machine with feet hip width apart — feet can be facing straight ahead or slightly turned out. Press upwards through the heel of the foot, then squeeze your glutes and extend your legs until they are almost all the way straight. "Make sure to never lock the knees fully straight or let the knee go past a 90 degree angle," instructs Gritz.

Outer Thigh (Abductor) Machine

"This is one of the most misused machines by women," says Gritz. To get it right, sit on machine with hips lifted about three to five inches off the seat. Squeeze your glutes and push knees away from each other, and then slowly bring them back together. "Keeping your butt off the seat will engage the core," explains Gritz.

Inner Thigh (Adductor) Machine

Sit on machine with hips lifted about three to five inches off the seat. Next, squeeze you inner thighs together while bringing knees towards each other. "Keep your weight low and go for higher repetitions," she says. "It's very effective burn."

Main Image: Dmitriy Melnikov/Fotolia

Workout Images: Courtesy of Ali Gritz