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As anyone who has spent any decent amount of time in a gym can attest; it can be a daunting experience for beginners. 

The gym is, of course, a judgement free zone (or it should be, anyway) but it should be acknowledged that most of us go first go there motivated to correct some sort of self-perceived flaw. Maybe you want to lose a little weight, or maybe you want to tone up or perhaps you want to work on your cardio ahead of the new season of five-a-side football. Either way, the best possible way to achieve any of these goals is not just to add gym visits to your personal schedule, but to make sure you are spending your time wisely while you are there.

Below we’ll take a look at some of the most common machines you’ll find in your local gym as well as tips on how to use them. Remember though, there is absolutely no substitute for having a personal trainer give you an introductory lesson when you join. Most gyms will offer this for free.


The chest press machine boosts your pectorals and triceps. Ensure that the weight is equal on both sides and that you aren’t extending your elbows past your chest or torso as this is an overextension. Keep your back flat against the seat and do not arch it. To use properly, slowly push away from your chest and then return to set position with resistance.


Use the wide grip to effectively impact your latissimus dorsi, the main muscle at the top of your back. Face the machine with your back straight and your legs slotted under the control pads. Slowly lower the bar to below your chin and return with resistance. This will effectively help train your muscle groups to perform pull-ups.


This machine somewhat simulates the rower, which your gym will likely have available too. This machine helps your perform a seated row, an exercise which will target your back and biceps. Make sure to keep a slight bend in your legs and tuck your elbows into your body when pulling until your elbows get to your abs. After a full extension, slowly return to the weight with resistance.


This is one exercise which can be taxing on your knees under particularly circumstances, so we recommend to be cautious with the weight you select. Grab the bars with your hands and push forward slowly with your legs to almost full extension but, crucially, do not lock your knees.


Again, anyone with knee problems will need to be cautious here but there is not better way to workout your quads. Just be very careful with the weight you think you are capable of.