I know that initially some gym machines might look "scary" but they are actually not! I've put together a few tips to help you master what I consider to most "intimidating" pieces of equipment at the gym. Check it out!
The Leg Press
Load on desired weight, place feet at shoulder width stance, extend legs and unlock the safeties, then lower the weight with legs at a 45 degree angle or lower. Foot placement can vary from wide stance for hamstring and glute engagement, or a narrow stance for higher activation in the quads. A single leg press is also a great way to switch things up and fix any existing muscle imbalances!
The Smith Machine
With a desired weight, unlock the safeties. This machine can be used for a variety of exercises from upper to lower body. It adds stability, which is great for a beginner who is not yet used to a free-weight barbell. It helps specifically target a specific muscle group, for example squats on this machine will focus solely on building lower body strength, taking out the proprioceptive challenge of a free weight squat.
This machine targets the lat muscles in the back. It can be used in a variety of ways, from a wider grip to a narrow grip or an inverted grip. The wide grip engages the outer lats and reduces resistance placed on the biceps and forearms. Adjust the knee pads of the machine to prevent your body from being raised with the resistance. Lean back slightly, pull the bar down to your chest and keep your shoulder blades down and back.
Lying Leg Curl
Adjust the machine lever to fit your height and lie face down with the pad at the back of your legs just under your calves. Fully extend your legs and curl the weight up, holding on to the handles at the sides of the machine.
Place the back of your torso against the pad of the machine, with your shoulders just below the pads provided. Place your feet at a shoulder width stance with feet slightly pointed outward and lower into a squat, then push back up. Stance may vary from narrow to feet further apart into a sumo squat.
This can be a great full body workout for any experience level. The trick is to push with your legs first, lean back so your shoulders pass your pelvis, and pull your arms toward your chest.
This machine is great for burning major calories without placing too much stress on the joints. It targets all muscles of the legs and builds stamina. It mirrors the action of going up the stairs and the speed is easily adjustable to your desired level of difficulty.