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Most Common Gym Machine Mistakes & How To Avoid Them

Today I’ll be talking about the most common gym machine mistakes amongst gym goers. I’ve taken the liberty to pick a couple machines, that I’ve seen as a trainer, being used with some mistakes and provide some pro tips on correct usage. Alright, here I go!

Leg Press


The first on my list is the massive machine called the Leg Press. Now, you as a new gym goer may look at it and go “no way am I ever going to use that, it scary looking” or be really motivated to make some leg gains like your fan favourites Ronnie Coleman, Larry Wheels or Paige Hathaway!

When starting out, you may be inclined to slap on some big weights and get moving only to realize that you may have caused yourself some knee, hip or low back discomfort. How? You may ask, well let me explain.

When we focus on moving weight in regards to ego lifting, we tend to throw form out the window. But you’re like “Erick, you can’t get the form wrong on a machine!” Now, this is where we need to change that notion of ours! Even though we may be seated and locked into position, we still have some major movements that involve our joints such as knees and hips.

How to properly use the Leg Press machine. then?

When we get ourselves into a leg press, there’s a couple check points we want to run with ourselves before moving weight. First, lets make sure that the seat is adjusted so that our hip crease sits at a 90-degree angle and our low back nicely cushioned up against the back pad.

Now, when we prop our legs up on to the pad/platform our foot position can vary from narrow hip width stance to wider shoulder width stance. The former will target your quads more effectively while the latter will target hamstrings. When we begin to move the weighted platform down towards our torso, make sure to go as far as your mobility allows you to and enough so that your low back does not lift off the back padding.

When we go to push the weight back to starting position, go as far as keeping a slight bend in your knee. This will keep the strain off your knee joint and into the muscles being used instead.

Keeping these little check points in mind for the leg press will keep you pain free and bring you all the appropriate lower body gains you’re looking for!

Lat Pull Down


The next on my hit list is the lat pull down machine! This one is notorious for being misused at the gym, you may often see it on your social media feed where someone is frantically swinging back and forth trying to move weight.

So what is the lat pull down and how do we actually use it?

The lat pull down machine is used to target your back, more specifically your lats! Lets start by adjusting the height of the seat so we’re sitting with our feet flat on the ground and our knees snug under the pad. Now that we’re comfortably seated, adjusting the weight to a modest amount and grab the bar overhead. Here, the width of the grip will also dictate which part of your back is being targeted.

For simplicity sake lets talk wide grip which will target our lats. Now, when we go to pull the bar down, make sure to keep your torso at a slight 45-degree angle and core braced. Keeping your core braced will eliminate the swinging movement. When you’re pulling the bar down, pull towards the top of your chest as you try and draw your shoulder blades back and down. And don’t forget to squeeze for muscle contraction.

As we let the bar up back to starting position nice and gently, make sure to keep lats engaged so that your shoulders and arms don’t go above your collar/neck line. Keeping these few pointers in the back of your mind will allow for maximum back gains this spring/summer. 

I hope that you have found this to be useful! If you’re looking for more pro tips, don’t be afraid to come see me at the Kitsilano location. Happy & Safe Lifting!

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