It isn't always easy to find your way among all the strength training machines available at the gym... Who has never got themselves lost amidst these fitness machines, without knowing what they're really used for… What machine to use? Which exercise for which muscle? Here are a few practical tips to help you get your bearings.


Strengthening the pectoral muscles

  • Machines to use: chest press.


  • The right exercises:


Bench press with barbell or dumbbells. Lie on a bench, hold the bar shoulder-width apart, then lower it down to your chest. Exhale and push the bar back up. Think about contracting your abs and keeping your core engaged during the exercise. Do 4 sets of 10 to 12 repetitions, with 1 minute of rest between each set.


Strengthening the arms (biceps, triceps)

  • Machines to use: the biceps machine and dips machine.


  • The right exercises with a bar or dumbbells:


Straight bar curl for biceps: stand, hold the bar shoulder-width apart, palms facing the ceiling (supination), exhale and lift the bar under your chin, while keeping your elbows in contact with your sides. 4 sets of 8 repetitions, with 1 minute of rest between each set.


Front bar for triceps: lie on a bench, hold a bar with your palms facing the ceiling, and keep your elbows close in. Inhale, flex your arms and bring the bar towards your forehead, then exhale and push the bar back up. Be sure to keep your elbows vertical and don't let them move apart. 4 sets of 8 repetitions, with 1 minute of rest between each set.


Strengthening the back

  • Machines to use: vertical row.


  • The right bodyweight exercises:


Pull-ups: based on your grip, try to bring your shoulder blades up to the height of your bar, keep your back straight and shoulders low, and don't arch your back. Exhale as you raise up and inhale as you lower. Feel free to vary your grip so that you work on all your back muscles. Do 4 sets of 8 to 10 repetitions, with 90 seconds of rest between each set.


Strengthening the shoulders

  • Machines to use: shoulder press.


  • The right exercises with a bar:


Military press: stand, bar placed at the shoulder blades, hands shoulder-width apart, exhale and press the bar over your head. Do 4 sets of 8 repetitions, with 90 seconds of rest between each set.


Strengthening the abs

  • Machines to use: abdominal bench.


  • The right exercises:


Core strengthening: while resting your weight on your forearms and toes, raise your hips until your legs, hips and core are aligned. Squeeze your glutes and contract your abs to put your back in place and then hold the position. Breathe slowly and deeply as you hold the plank position. Ensure that you tilt the pelvis whilst contracting the buttocks and abdominals throughout this exercise.


Crunches: lie on your back, bend your legs and bring them towards your stomach until they are at a 90°angle. Place your hands behind your neck for support (but don't pull your head forward). Inhale, then exhale as you roll your chest forward and up (keep your chin tucked). Contract your abs and keep your lower back on the ground. Smoothly and gradually return to your starting position.


Leg raises: lie on your back, legs stretched vertically, exhale while pushing your legs upward. Return to your initial position gradually by controlling the descent of your hips to the ground.


Strengthening the legs

  • Machines to use: thigh press.


  • The right exercises:


Squat with a bar or your body weight, depending on your level. Stand, feet hip-width apart, inhale and flex your legs while pushing your hips slightly backward, then exhale and push back up. Stop before your legs are fully extended. Do 4 sets of 10 repetitions, with 90 seconds of rest between each set.


Now you have a few points of reference for choosing the right machine at your gym. To exercise correctly and give your body time to recover, give yourself at least 2 days of full rest during the week. The ideal is not to work out for over 2-3 days in a row. From session to session, don't forget to vary your muscle groups (example: work on 2 different muscle groups each session). Enjoy your workout!

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How can you get maximum muscle in a minimum amount of time? Our weight training expert Florent will tell you how to do just that.


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