These are my favorites, for their ability to work my legs, back, or a full body combination. I found some great pictures online of the activities, so thankfully I didn’t have to ask someone at the gym to snap some of me.
This machine, if done both front facing and rear facing, will work the shoulders, back, and arms. If you pull your belly button in, it can also give minor benefits to your core as well.
The Chess Press works many of the same muscles as a push up. Below, you will see my opinion of a push-up If you aren’t able to perform a proper push-up this machine can help to get you there. There are two ways to perform it. There is the above method, with palms facing down. Also, if you grasp the side handles, with palms facing in, it adds extra emphasis to the triceps. I alternate methods between sets, but you can also pick and choose.
The Lat Pulldown is another full body exercise. Even though it is only supposed to focus on the back and shoulders, I find that by keeping my core tight, it also works my abdominal muscles. Additionally every muscle in my arms are also worked, depending on my grip.
The Back Extension is something I do 2-3 times per week, mainly because my back is weaker than other people. I hold my core very tight, and push back. Instead of following the methods from the above plans, I tend to choose a rep, and repeat that number as I increase reps until it hurts. I begin at 20, and increase 10lbs until I cannot increase anymore. By the end I am shaking, and my legs are sore from holding firm. It’s a great exercise, if done this way.
Leg Curl is good at toning the legs, which is one of the two most important muscle groups! It works just about every muscle in your leg, even though it is designed to only work half. Sometimes it can be paired with a Leg Extension, but personally I feel this alone gets the job done.
This is the leg press machine. I could not find a picture of the Calf Extension machine. But calf extensions can be done on the leg press as well. With your legs mostly straight, press your feet against the pad, and then point your toes. It’s that easy! Except its very hard. If you use enough weight, you will have perfect legs for high heels in no time. This machine is also very good for runners. I tend to double my sets on this machine, to get heightened results.
2 Body Weight The above are the machines I use, however I am a huge fan of body weight exercises! If you do not have access to a gym, putting a high intensity regimen of the following two exercises could very well be enough to give you a great body.
I am a huge fan of the push-up. I try to do 10 every morning when I wake up, and before I go to sleep. A push-up works more than just your arms. You have to hold your every muscle in your core, torso, and legs tight to maintain proper form.
The important thing to remember when doing a push-up is proper form. The moment your butt goes in the air, your back aches, or your chest puffs, you lose all effectiveness.
Another great core exercise is the Plank. Similar to the push-up, rest your body-weight on your elbows and tighten your core. Hold the position for as long as possible. Sometimes I set goals for myself. I try to reach at least 1 minute per plank, and total 5 minutes.
- One-Legged Romanian Deadlift
This is it. If you never do any other exercise, on a machine or on the floor, but do this one exercise, you will have the tools necessary for a great body. This is the miracle worker.
The one-legged Romanian dead-lift can be done without any weights, despite being shown with dumbbells above. Without arching your back, reach down and touch the ground by your one foot, while the other raises behind you. Return to the upright position. This activity works the core, chest and back, as well as improves flexibility and balance. I find that I struggle on my left leg. I all truth, the weight does not make it harder. I think it is easier because it pulls me down, instead of using my muscles to control my weight down.
I tend to do 2-3 sets of 10 reps per side. However, sometimes I will perform 3 minutes of 4-step ladders. These are when I perform 1-2-3-4-3-2-1 on each leg, alternating legs, until the time is over. It combines this intense activity with cardio and endurance.